aimee suzanne kruse-ross | gb film fest 2017 | feb. 2017
Film festivals are the place to discover what's new in independent film. It turns out there's a lot more being offered than the 20 pictures being shown at the local cinema. If you're not film savvy, you probably aren't aware that there are hundreds of thousands of filmmakers making creative films on a variety of different budgets. That's where the Green Bay Film Festival comes in and this year's lineup includes more than 100 films that span a variety of genres. Many of these films would go virtually unseen and unnoticed if not for the effort of such festivals. The Green Bay Film Festival has quickly become another of the city's most anticipated events. Now in its seventh year, this festival brings audiences the opportunity to see the latest in a variety of films of all genres, while introducing them to the talents and creativity of independent filmmakers both locally and abroad.
As flagship event for Film Green Bay, a 501(c)(3) corporation, this event seeks to promote Green Bay as a hub for filmmaking and film appreciation while providing a rich and educational experience to both the community and its visitors. Film Green Bay recognizes the growing interest in independent filmmaking and strives to create activities and opportunities that encourage appreciation for this art form.
“Showing independent film and having filmmakers from all over the world come to the festival and talk to our audiences, this provides a place where people can mingle and find out more, but these festivals are really the place to see the latest in film," says Cyndee Sweetland, the festival's director.
Films Around Town
Last year the festival added a new feature and now includes a “Films Around Town" series with independent films being shown at a variety of locations around the city prior to and after the festival weekend extravaganza. This gives audiences the opportunity to see films at more intimate locations. This lineup includes documentaries, animated films, historical films and films that take an honest look at community concerns. Several of these films will have special discussions immediately following, where audiences can discuss these important issues with a professional.
Alive with Animation – A series of short animated films including “We Can't Live Without the Cosmos," “Bubble Yum," “A Coyote Tale" and “Agrinoui." Presented at Mackinaw's Grill & Spirits on Feb. 8 — 7 p.m.
I Do – A perfect selection for Valentine's Day, “I Do" is a light-hearted documentary about the crazy concept of marriage. This is a special holiday feature that includes an optional Valentine's dinner and movie night at The Village Grille on Feb. 14. Dinner at 6:30 p.m., movie at 7 p.m.
Church of Felons – A harrowing tale of four recovering addicts seeking redemption for their crimes in the unforgiving heart of addiction country. Shown at the Jackie Nitschke Center on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Community discussion following the film.
Hidden Histories – Hidden Histories is a touring program of four short narrative films about Japanese American confinement during WWII. Each film tells a personal story dramatizing a different period of this history, starting from the Executive Order 9066 (which authorized the confinement sites) to the present-day legacy for younger generations. Shown at the Neville Museum on March 1 at 7 p.m.
Tickets for each Film Around Town are available at the door of their respective venues for $7 ($5 for students).
Film Festival Proper
The film festival proper makes its official opening on March 2 – 5 at the Cassandra Voss Center at St. Norbert College. This year's event boasts the showing of more than 100 different films. Represented will be dramas, silent films, documentaries, horror, animation and more. These films have been selected for inclusion after a lengthy jurying process and represent the best of the best.
“It's actually heartbreaking," says Sweetland. “We have to make a gut decision about which films get in and which don't."
The festival weekend also includes seminars that discuss distribution, film stories, special effects and more.
“Film Green Bay, through the Film Festival, is geared toward offering free education to our community about filmmaking," says Sweetland. “Our current culture of communication is using video more often to share information. So whether you are a filmmaker or a student of film, or want to be able to communicate well in your business or with your family events, I'm sure that just about anyone will gain from the seminars we offer."
While it's impossible to highlight all the films that will be presented during the festival, here are a few selections this author found of particular interest:
“If I Retaliate"
Directed by D.J. Hale
A college-bound athlete contemplates joining his neighborhood's gang after a retaliation drive-by shooting from their rivals takes the life of his best friend. “If I Retaliate" is a gritty hard hitting short film that sheds light on how our communities can be affected through the senseless cycle of gang violence festering within our neighborhoods. Shown at the Cassandra Voss Center, St. Norbert College on March 2 at 7 p.m. Community discussion following the film.
“Requiem for a Running Back"
Directed by Rebecca Carpenter
Director Rebecca Carpenter's father, Lewis Carpenter, was a world championship running back for Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. When he dies, her family receives a surprise call from Boston University's brain bank requesting his brain - with shocking results. Lew becomes the 18th NFL player diagnosed postmortem with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurocognitive disorder that can cause episodes of rage, social withdrawal, and other unusual behaviors. In disbelief, Carpenter finds herself at ground zero of an unfolding public health controversy and embarks on a three-year odyssey across America to explore the far-reaching implications of this new disease. Shown at F.K. Bemis Center, St. Norbert College on March 4, at 7 p.m.
Children's Short Films
Not only will you find family-friendly feature films like Luc Campeau's “Turtle Tale" at this year's festival, you'll also find a series of special Children's Sessions which present an hour of short films just for kids. The Children's Short Films begins on Sunday morning at 11:15 a.m.
The Future Filmmakers Competition
In connection with Film Green Bay's mission, education plays an important role in the future of film. The company looks to educate, not only audiences and established filmmakers but also young filmmakers through seminars, Q &A sessions and programs designed to set the young filmmaker on the right path. The Future Filmmakers Program aims to further support the aspiring filmmaker, set designer and cast or crewmember of the future. Sweetland sees the future of film is in the hands of the youth, which makes it vital to create opportunities for them to learn filmmaking early on, including grade school.
To help support this mission, Film Green Bay holds a yearly competition with awards for budding young filmmakers and the group is still accepting entries for their Future Filmmakers Competition. Entries will be judged on the expression of creativity, and the ability to communicate the message or storyline. In addition, technical ability in audio, camera work, lighting and editing will be juried. Submitted projects may win a cash scholarship, passes to the festival or other prizes.
Entries must relate to one of the following categories: Celebrating Your Hometown, Favorite Things About Green Bay or Favorite Things About Organizations in Green Bay. Films must be three minutes or less in length and be produced for under $100. For more information about further guidelines on how to submit your film in time for this year's festival, please visit http://www.gbfilmfestival.org/future-filmmakers.
Deadline for submissions is February 18, 2017.
High school senior Marisa Jacques became involved in the filmmaker's event two years ago. Using computer software, her film, “More Than Puppy Love" took two years to complete and includes a collaboration with another student, Lyndsey Agar.
An amateur music composer, Agar wrote a musical score for Jacques' film, and with the help of a local editing studio, took special care with the score to ensure “it aligned with the tone of the movie … to convey emotion to the viewers."
After the score was completed and recorded, Jacques then learned how to use editing software that merged the music with film. The process was both new and lasting.
“I learned so much about sound editing, something that I had no idea how to do before," says Jacques. “With this skill I'll be able to do my own sound effects to my films."
Students will learn a variety of skills in the Future Filmmakers Program, regardless of their filmmaking experience.
“Whether you like to make home videos with an iPhone camera or you use advanced software and professional programs … it's such a great opportunity for you to grow your skills and branch out," says Jacques. “It's been one of my best experiences for filmmaking so far, and I'm so glad this program is available to anyone!"
Such competitions used to be open only to high school students, but Sweetland says they've since opened up the program and competition to all ages as a result of some very young talent.
“We actually have gotten filmmakers that have submitted films that were very entertaining and were included in our program that are 10 or 13 years old — they're not high school students, but we didn't want to limit the creativity by age."
The competition is free to enter and open to all Wisconsin students enrolled in elementary, middle or high school. A panel of judges will select ten finalists. Three of those ten will be named the first, second and third place winners of the competition during the 2017 Green Bay Film Festival awards ceremony on March 5, 2017.
Advancements in the availability of technology may be partly behind the increased output from junior filmmakers, with many children owning a phone or similar device capable of recording images, the future of film may be in very capable hands in the years to come. Says Sweetland, “[These kids] are living it, they're living with the tools of the trade and they're all over it. For everything that's going to be happening in the future, video will be a big part of it."
For more information on the Future Filmmakers Competition, please visit www.gbfilmfestival.org/future-filmmakers. For consideration in this year's film festival, deadline for submissions is February 18, 2017.
The Green Bay Film Festival invites you to be a part of their Films Around Town series, as well as their festival events. The festival runs March 2 – 5 at the Cassandra Voss Center at St. Norbert College. Tickets are only $7 at the door and students can come two-for-one at any show for just $5! Day passes are $20 and an all-inclusive Goldpass is available for $75. For ticket packages and more information visit www.gbfilmfestival.org.