2009 Wisconsin Film Festival | April 2-5, 2009 Support the Festival through the Real Butter Fund
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2009 Festival TV Spot and Trailer

tv spot trailer
Click here to watch the 2009 TV spot, a collaborative project by Nate Theis of Planet Propaganda; UW student Cassie Wentlandt; Madison musician Wendy Schneider; and Erik Gunneson of the UW Dept. of Communication Arts.
[4.76 mb Quicktime file]
The 2009 trailer ran before every film at the Festival; it’s based on an hour-long 1966 promotional film made by the State of Wisconsin (read more here). Heavily edited by UW Dept. of Communication Arts graduate student Stew Fyfe and faculty associate Erik Gunneson, the footage and music is nearly all original. Special thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society for loaning their 16mm film print of “We Like It Here.”
[9 mb Quicktime] [37 mb Quicktime] [70 mb Quicktime]

Steep & Brew Audience Awards
as voted on by Wisconsin Film Festival attendees for films 60 minutes or longer

Winner, Best Narrative Film

Japan, 2008, 131 min
dir: Yojiro Takita

Departures follows Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled Departures, thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a Nokanshi, a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others are repulsed by the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of Nokanshi, acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and death. [more]

Departures will be released in theaters starting 29.May.09.

Winner, Best Documentary Film

Being BuckyBeing Bucky
USA, 2008, 80 min
dir: Scott Smith

When you are Bucky, you are forbidden to tell anyone. You do not get paid. You do it for the privilege of upholding a time-honored tradition. The time commitment is grueling enough. The smell of the head is worse. You never know when you’ll get to use a bathroom, but it doesn’t matter because you sweat so much. You can’t talk and you can barely see. When you are Bucky, everyone wants to shake your hand. All the girls want to hug you, and children are in awe. When you are being Bucky for the first time, you’re confused and disoriented and wondering why you ever got yourself into this. By the time you’re done, you don’t ever want to stop. Being Bucky changes you forever. Meet the seven students who play Bucky Badger, the mascot at the University of Wisconsin–Madison during the 2007–2008 school year. [more]

Wisconsin's Own Jury Prizes

USA, 2008, 4 min
dir: Dan WiersGalla

Choreographed snowmobilers break it down on frozen Little Lac Courte Oreilles. [more]

Immortal CupboardImmortal Cupboard: In Search of Lorine Niedecker
USA, 2009, 76 min
dir: Cathy Cook

On the shores of Lake Koshkonong, near Fort Atkinson, lived Lorine Neidecker a poet who wrote concise, economical verses about nature. Niedecker’s life and work is explored in this inventive documentary. [more]

USA, 2008, 78 min
dir: Josh Rosenberg

Cat’s a fairly average student at Milwaukee’s Shorewood High School. Her family is a typical suburban one: no hardships, but there is a lack of vitality and real understanding. She’s a little innocent, and when an older student reaches out to befriend her, she jumps at the chance to experiment with something new. [more]

Win or LoseWin or Lose: A Summer Camp Story
USA, 2008, 58 min
dir: Louis Lapat

The last week at Camp Ojibwa, in Eagle River, Wis., is Collegiate Week. The kids — all boys — divide into teams named after colleges, and compete in an extravaganza that includes almost anything that can be reduced to a contest: basketball, hockey, playwriting. [more]

The four-day 2009 Wisconsin Film Festival drew an attendance of 32,645, based on ticket stubs counted at the door. (This is up from 30,028 at the 2008 Festival.)

There were 108 features and 91 short films, for a total of 199.

500 DAYS OF SUMMERHighlights included the very popular opening-night film 500 Days of Summer, with director Marc Webb (and Madison native) and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber greeting an audience of over 1200 at the Orpheum Theatre on Thursday night.

DEPARTURESMadison native and UW graduate Stephen P. Jarchow, Chairman of the Board of Regent Entertainment, spoke to the Festival audience in a conversation with Emeritus Professor of Communication Arts Tino Balio. Jarchow discussed industry news and trends, the art of film production, and distributing international successes like Takita’s Oscar-winning Departures, also winner of the 2009 Steep & Brew Audience Award for Best Narrtive Film at the Wisconsin Film Festival.

Being Bucky, a documentary by Scott Smith about the seven UW students who perform as the school’s mascot, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Film.

Niels Mueller also met with the Festival audience to talk about making a film in Wisconsin. Mueller, originally from Milwaukee, wrote and directed the 2004 Sean Penn/Naomi Watts drama The Assassination of Richard Nixon. UW film production instructor Erik Gunneson talked with Mueller about a new project to shoot a Wisconsin-based film in the coming year.

Festival director Meg Hamel hosted a first-ever panel of directors from film festivals around Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Film Festival, Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival, Central Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison Horror Film Festival, and Flyway Film Festival.

FOOTBALL UNDER COVERDirector David Assmann came from Germany to present his documentary Football Under Cover to 500 area high-school students, at the annual World Cinema Day event presented by the UW Language Institute. This was followed by a public festival screening of the film.

GOODBYE SOLOAmerican cinema presented this year included Goodbye Solo by Rahmin Bahrani, Lightbulb by Jeff Balsmeyer, Afterschool by Antonio Campos, The Last Lullaby by Jeffrey Goodman, Momma’s Man by Azazel Jacobs, Treeless Mountain by So Young Kim, Sita Sings The Blues by Nina Paley, Idiots and Angels by Bill Plympton, and Frownland by Ronald Bronstein.

SUMMERMajor international titles at this year’s Festival included Empty Nest by Daniel Burman, Three Monkeys by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Kisses by Lance Daly, Cherry Blossoms by Doris Dörrie, Tulpan by Sergey Dvortsevoy, Lake Tahoe by Fernando Eimbcke, JCVD by Mabrouk El Mechri, Summer by Kenny Glanaan, The Trap by Srdan Golubović, Our Beloved Month of August by Miguel Gomes, Absurdistan by Veit Helmer, My Marlon and Brando by Hüseyin Karabey, Tokyo Sonata by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Secret Sunshine by Lee Chang-dong, Fear Me Not by Kristian Levring, The Song of Sparrows by Majid Majidi, Somers Town by Shane Meadows, Mermaid by Anna Melikian, Serbis by Brillante Mendoza, Ghajini by A.R. Murugadoss, Lost World by Gyula Nemes, Daytime Drinking by Young-Seok Noh, Jerichow by Christian Petzold, Silent Light by Carlos Reygadas, The Country Teacher by Bohdan Sláma, Revanche by Götz Spielmann, Departures by Yojiro Takita, Sparrow by Johnnie To, and Lion’s Den by Pablo Trapero.

THE BEACHES OF AGNESDocumentaries have always been popular with the audience here. Some of the favorites this year were Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman by Eric Bricker, Chuck Close by Marion Cajori, Paper or Plastic? by Alex D. da Silva and Justine Jacob, Between the Folds by Vanessa Gould, Anvil! The Story of Anvil by Sascha Gervasi, Not Quite Hollywood by Mark Hartley, 24 City by Jia Zhang-Ke, Food Inc. by Robert Kenner, The Betrayal by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath, Blind Loves by Juraj Lehotský, On a Tightrope by Petr Lom, Lads and Jockeys by Benjamin Marquet, The Beetle by Yishai Orian, Art & Copy by Doug Pray, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 by Kevin Rafferty, The English Surgeon by Geoffrey Smith, Earth Days by Robert Stone, The Beauty of the Fight by John Urbano, The Beaches of Agnès by Agnès Varda, Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love by Chai Vasarhelyi, The Rock-afire Explosion by Brett Whitcomb, Rare Chicken Rescue by Randall Wood, and In a Dream by Jeremiah Zagar.

Heather Heckman, a graduate student in the UW Department of Communication Arts, curated two programs of vintage film from two collections based on the UW–Madison campus: Live from New York…: 1950s Television from the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research and Tractors! International Harvester Sponsored Films from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

An essential part of the Wisconsin Film Festival are experimental and avant-garde films. UW–Madison graduate James Benning’s RR and Ken Jacobs’ Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World are two of the higher profile films. UW–Madison graduate James Kreul again curated a program of experimental shorts that we call, plainly enough, “Jim’s Experimental Shorts.” Michael Robinson, Fred Worden, Pat O’Neill, and UW–Madison grad Scott Stark were among the filmmakers whose work was included. New this year was a program of new video work curated by UW–Madison professors Sabine Gruffat and Bill Brown, as an extension of their Media Embassy series of video presentations. This program included work by Deborah Stratman, Semiconductor, Takeshi Murata, and Jennet Thomas. Hitoshi Toyoda brought his beautiful 2007 piece Nazuna to Madison, a live silent presentation of 580 35mm slides.

Dates for the 12th annual Wisconsin Film Festival: Thursday, April 15 to Sunday, April 18, 2010.
(The University of Wisconsin’s Spring Break falls during our “normal” early April dates, so the Festival gets pushed back.)

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