INDEPENDENT FILMMAKERS REIGN AT BIFF 2011 (please note that full bios of each honorary chairperson is listed below)
Two previous Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) grant winners, based in the Pacific Northwest hotbed of independent filmmaking, will return to Beloit, Wisconsin, and BIFF 2011 in February as honorary co-chairs.
Becky Rogers, president of Stateline Festivals, Inc., producer of BIFF, announced that C.K. Lichenstein II of Portland, Ore., and Jack Bennett of Seattle will serve together as co-chairs of this year’s Festival, Feb. 17-20. “Both independent filmmakers have had memorable involvement with BIFF for several years. Not only will they advise us on what is developing in the independent film movement,” says Rogers, “they will also help to spread the word about BIFF and its dedication to filmmakers. They have agreed to promote BIFF through their extensive connections in the industry, and during BIFF when they will help to host events and will be available to students, audiences and other filmmakers.”
“one of the things that makes BIFF a special draw for independent filmmakers is the way we treat them. They don’t always get a lot of attention at the larger festivals but, at Beloit, the audiences are accommodating and appreciative and we make sure they are celebrated properly.”
Both honorary chairs have received BIFF Emerging Artist Grants. This financial support, made possible by dozens of film-themed dining events in the BIFF Cinema à la Carte program, support new projects of filmmakers.
Bennett was born and raised in Shopiere, Wis., and still has family in the area. He has spent the last decade working in film, in and out of Hollywood, honing his craft as a filmmaker and experiencing life from all angles in a constant search for his next project. He has worked professionally as an actor on stage and screen, as a film editor on PBS and the Discovery Channel projects and has filled every possible film crew position from cinematographer to writer and director. After moving to Seattle he was inspired by the unique character of the Pacific Northwest to make his own short films. His films have played in Los Angeles, Macedonia, Venice (Italy), New York, Seattle, and at the Beloit International Film Festival where his film “Synthetik” was honored in 2008. For BIFF 2011 he will present the feature “Bass Ackwards” on which he was a producer, and the short film, “Atlas” which he co-wrote and directed with David Hanagan.
Lichenstein is a prolific producer of low-budget independent films. With no formal training, he learned as he went. His first feature as a producer indicated that he had a natural talent for dealing with the pitfalls of filmmaking. Since then he has directed, produced or acted in 15 comedies, action and science fiction films and art-house dramas including the award winning films Cathedral Park and short Rifle Workbook. With a background in graphic arts, he settled in Oregon where he wrote and worked as a comics editor. Comic book creators Ian and Tyson Smith, offered him his first film project, the feature length, road trip comedy, The Sexy Chef which has been screened at numerous festivals and independent theaters. His most recent work, supported by a grant from BIFF, is the period short film The McMillan Girl which he plans to premiere at Beloit in 2011.
BIFF 2011, sponsored by The Hendricks Group of Beloit in association with Beloit College and with a grant from Visit Beloit, marks the sixth year for the independent film festival. More than 120 films will be shown during the four day event at twelve venues in the downtown Beloit area, and Janesville for the first time. Also new this year, two of the film venues will be located in the Beloit College Hendricks Center for the Arts.
Biographies of our Honorary Chairs:
C.K. Lichenstein II – Producer
Born in New Jersey to parents Robert and Rachel Lichenstein, C.K. is the youngest of three children. His father’s family emigrated from Germany in the late 1800’s, when C.K.’s grandfather, and namesake, was just an infant, while his mother’s side came over in the 1600’s from England and Ireland. A Princeton graduate and World War II veteran, Robert began dating Rachel, the oldest child of Alabama Governor James “Big Jim” Folsom Sr. and, despite the near twelve year age difference, the couple was married in 1960. While Rachel raised the three children, Robert worked first managing a chain of paint stores that his father had started, and then moved into commercial real estate, which he did the rest of his life. The family moved to Alabama when C.K. was five and then again to Houston, TX seven years later where for his formative years from junior high to college.
His love of films was nurtured by his father, as it was very much a shared interest, and matured even more as he grew older and began to find his own voice and taste’s outside of his family’s. Instead of pursuing film though, C.K. followed his other interests and went to college in Lubbock, Texas studying graphic arts and then later on returned to Houston to study fine arts and creative writing. He left college before graduating when his father passed away and never returned in any serious capacity again. Two years after that devastating loss, he struck out on his own moving to Portland, OR. Working various jobs, focusing on marketing and graphic design, he pursued more creative outlets by writing reviews and articles for local and national magazines like Paperback Jukebox, where he was also the comics editor, BadAzz MoFo, Too Much Coffee Man and Top Shelf Comics.
A fan of comics since before he could read, along with his gregarious nature, helped him become friends with creators, publishers and up and coming talents. This is how he met comic book creators Ian and Tyson Smith, of Oddjob and Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand fame. When they came to him about a possible film they were making, C.K. insisted on being the producer and, once the brothers were convinced, he went out and began to learn exactly what a producer did! As this was the first film for all three, they made sure to have plenty of pre-production and sought advice from many experienced local filmmakers. Filmed over eighteen days, mostly on weekends, C.K. had multiple duties as producer, line producer, first A.D. (assistant director) and actor. While spending over two years in post, the feature length, road trip comedy, The Sexy Chef was finally completed and screened at its first festival in 2002. It played in several more festivals, finally screening in Portland, OR at the first Longbaugh Film Festival in early 2003 to record crowds. Self-released the following year on DVD the film went on to play at more festivals and independent theaters and has had great longevity, with requests to play continuing to the present.
C.K. went on to work on and produce several other films including the next Smith Brothers feature, Monday Night Gig and then BadAzz MoFo creator David Walker’s first narrative Damaged Goods. In 2005 he produced Vincent Caldoni’s first feature film Cathedral Park, a unique drama shot as a fake documentary and utilizing a created language, and then the following year he produced Nick Hagen’s third feature, the thriller Dark Horizon. When Cathedral Park was released in 2007, he spent the rest of that year, and much of 2008, promoting the film in numerous festivals across North America. The film went on to win several awards including Best Feature at the 2008 Magnolia Independent Film Festival in Mississippi.
While still collaborating with other filmmakers, he found a like mind with Vincent and the two began to work on several new projects. The next film, done in 2007 shortly after Cathedral Park premiered, was the short Rifle Workbook (2007) which was a judge’s selection at the 2008 Northwest Film and Video Festival and won Best Short at the 2008 Magnolia Independent Film Festival. In 2009, Vincent and C.K. completed the short film Reception (2009), which has played at numerous festivals including the prestigious Sci-Fi London Film Festival. In the beginning of 2010, after raising funds through Film Action Oregon and with the aid of a grant from the Beloit International Film Festival, they began filming the period short film The McMillan Girl. They are in post-production with plans to premiere at Beloit in 2011.
Other recent projects, besides The McMillan Girl, that C.K. has produced have included the short film Salt and Silicone by writer/director Warren Pereira, which had its World Premiere in Ireland September 2010 and David Walker’s latest feature My Dinner with A.J. which should premiere in fall 2010. C.K. and Vincent Caldoni are also currently in pre-production on a new feature with filming to begin in October 2010. C.K. still lives in Portland, OR and has been at the same day job managing a mailroom for almost five years, but that can’t last forever, can it? A strong voice in the Oregon film community he has helped create legislation that provides more support for low-budget indigenous filmmakers and is a founding member of the Oregon Producer’s Association (OPA). He has produced several seminars and events, including the 2010 Portland 48 Hour Film Project, lectured at schools and festivals, promoted events and/or screenings like Portland’s Grindhouse Film Festival, most recently was a judge for a video gong show and is excited to head back to Beloit to be a co-honorary chair for the 2011 Beloit International Film Festival.
Jack Bennett – Director
Born and raised in Shopiere, Wisconsin Jack has spent the last 10 years working in the Film world in and out of Hollywood, honing his craft as a filmmaker and experiencing life from all angles in a constant search for his next project. He has worked professionally as an actor on both stage and screen, as an editor for a Los Angeles based post facility working for PBS and the Discovery Channel, and has filled every possible film crew position from cinematographer to writer, actor to director and everything in between. After moving to Seattle, WA from L.A. Jack got serious about making his own short films, “I have been so inspired by the Pacific Northwest, it reminds me of home and yet in so many ways it is a strange place with a unique character and feel to it. I’m lucky I found it.”
His short films thus far have played in Los Angeles, Macedonia, Venice Italy, New York, Seattle, and of course at Beloit’s own Beloit Int’l Film Festival where his film “Synthetik” took the emerging artist grant in 2008. For BIFF 2011 Jack has brought along the feature Bass Ackwards on which Jack was a producer and the short film, Atlas, which he co-wrote and directed with David Hanagan.
As for what is on the horizon, Jack has recently begun filming his first feature length film, A Fly Trapped in Amber. Of feature filmmaking Jack had this to say: “It’s a huge undertaking, you are making art but you are doing so in a business environment and so you end up wearing a lot of hats and losing a lot of sleep and still you come out the other side with something beautiful and worth all the time, money and effort.”
“I’m always glad to be back in Beloit and am honored to be the co-chair of the 2011 BIFF. I hope I can continue to give back to Southern WI through my art and through myself for everything it has given me. Thank you Beloit and thank you BIFF”