BIFF 2020

Fifteen Years and Counting

BIFF is a ten-day tribute to the power of film and the excitement of independent film from around the world.  Local residents and visitors from across the nation fill venues, ranging in size from 40 to 400 seats for more than 100 films, and to meet scores of filmmakers who come from throughout the U.S. and as far away as Europe, Asia and Latin America.

BIFF celebrates filmmakers in all genres—features, documentaries, shorts— who enjoy the Beloit setting as much as the attendees do. BIFF promises crowds of interested viewers filling venues, questioning them at the films, and stopping them on the street to talk about their shared passions and projects in independent filmmaking.

Bringing the World to Beloit & Beloit to the World

BIFF’s Red Scarf, Founding Donors

Tom & Terry Barnes
Rod & Meg Beaudoin
Dr. Susan Behrens & David Look
Steve & Heidi Eldred
Jorge Galante

Mick & Jane Gilbertson
Gary & Vicky Grabowski
Charles & Prudy Harker
Jim & Nancy Heidt
Diane Hendricks

Kim Hendricks
Ken & Judy Kaplan
Joanna Kutter
Curt & Barb Lansbery
Bill & Linda Lock

Paul Milatzo
Ron Nief
Becky Rogers
Don & Tara Tinder

President’s Message

Ana Kelly | Beloit International Film Festival

Ana Kelly
Board President

Welcome to the fifteenth season of the Beloit International Film Festival.
Fifteen years. Wow, fifteen years.

A lot of forethought, planning and investment, assembling of talented community-minded organizers, business community sponsors and finally, the countless hours from volunteers all came together to launch into being this, the Beloit International Film Festival.

And even with all this there was no certainty what the long term viability might be for this bold idea. Could the Beloit community actually pull this off? It is very hard to get something like this launched, particularly the way BIFF does it without an anchoring downtown theater. It’s a different kind of hard though to keep it going, growing and fresh over time; to maintain enthusiasm for the project from organizers, sponsors and volunteers in particular. But with everyone’s help, well here we are. Fifteen years. Beloit, you can and should be proud of what you’ve helped build here.

If you’re visiting our community from out of town, welcome. We’re really glad you’re here. We’ve all worked hard to curate and present some of the very finest in independent filmmaking for your enjoyment.

What makes a film festival a special and unique experience though is the opportunity for you to have a shared experience with others around well crafted storytelling through film, frequently followed by the opportunity to speak with the filmmakers about what you and others in the audience just experienced. Where else but at a film festival can you do that?

So, join us in Beloit for our fifteenth Beloit International Film Festival and stick around after the screening for the best part, interacting with the filmmakers, your friends and neighbors about some great storytelling. We’re building community here in Beloit.

~Ana Kelly
BIFF Board Chair

The BIFF Team

Greg Gerard | Executive Director, The Beloit International Film FestivalGreg Gerard

Executive Director

I began my experience with BIFF nearly fourteen years ago when I signed on with the operations team as a film and audio tech. Since that time I have been involved with the festival in some way, shape or form throughout its history. When the opportunity to take on more responsibility, and to assume more of a leadership role with the festival came my way, I was both thrilled and humbled. This festival has always seemed, to me, a combination of perfection and chaos; a brilliantly conceived monster that is difficult to tame, but which is always made to cooperate by way of strong and visionary leadership.

As the Artistic Director of BIFF, I find myself in awe of the endless details, the ingredients of BIFF, that past festival directors have managed to shape into the incredible event that we all look forward to, and love, each and every year. There are a lot of things beneath the surface that are new for me, even after all this time, and I’m working hard to get familiar with them. The upside is that I am working with an incredibly talented staff, selfless board members and amazing volunteers. I am confident that the powerful and committed team we make will result in another successful festival season, and that the confidence that was placed in me will yield the same positive results we have always enjoyed.

Adam Fogarty

Adam Fogarty

Film Curation
Sabrina Krejci

Sabrina Krejci

Social Media & Hospitality Director
Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski

Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski

Wisconsin / Illinois Showdown Program Director

Board of Directors

Nancy Clark Mather

Nancy Clark Mather

Laura Doll

Laura Doll

Brenda Gould

Brenda Gould

Sue Hess

Sue Hess

John Kalkirtz

John Kalkirtz

Ana Kelly

Ana Kelly

President
Nathan Lipps

Nathan Lipps

Jeff Livingston

Jeff Livingston

Jennifer Livingston

Jennifer Livingston

Gary Meier

Gary Meier

Treasurer
Terry Meyers

Terry Meyers

Vice President
Rick McGrath

Rick McGrath

Secratory
Celestino Ruffini

Celestino Ruffini

Stella

Stella

BIFF Photographers

Peer Canvas Photography and Video
Nancy & Jim Heidt

Nancy & Jim Heidt

BIFF Volunteer Coordinators
Nicola Meyer

Nicola Meyer

Maven of Merchandise
Marjorie & Brenton Driscoll

Marjorie & Brenton Driscoll

Photography (Peer Canvas)

BIFF Classroom

Greg Gerard
Susan Hess
Nancy Clark Mather

 BIFF Film Society / BIFFster

Ron Nief
Marty Densch
Ana Kelly

BIFF Year ‘Round / BIFF Outdoors

Greg Gerard
Brenda Gould
John Kalkirtz
Ana Kelly
Laura Doll
Nancy Clark Mather
Esther Veitch
Jake Hamil

Box Office

Ana Kelly
Sabrina Krejci
Gary Meier

Event Coordinators

Laura Doll
Greg Gerard
Nancy Clark Mather
Sabrina Krejci
Britney McKay
Jake Hamil

Drivers

Jeff Livingston
Larry Diehls
Bryan Northrup
Nathan Boggs
Randy Nelson

Film Selection

Adam Fogarty
Esther Veitch
Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski
Steve Meyer
Marty Densch
Geoff Richards
Greg Gerard

Hospitality

Sabrina Krejci

Marketing Team

Rick McGrath
Sabrina Krejci
Ana Kelly
Greg Gerard
Ron Nief
Denise Delanty
Gary Meier
Terry Meyers

Film Society of Beloit

Ana Kelly

Merchandise

Nicki Meyer
Amy Oselio

Photography

Marjorie & Brenton Driscoll | Peer Canvas
Mark Preuschl
Terry Meyers

Program Book

Mary & Mark Terry
Kim Boreen
Beloit Daily News
Greg Gerard
Ana Kelly
Nancy Clark Mather

Sponsors / Fundraising

Ana Kelly
Greg Gerard
Laura Doll
Gary Meier
Terry Meyer
Rick McGrath

Volunteer Coordinators

Nancy & Jim Heidt
Gary Meier
Terry Meyers

Website

Rick McGrath
Ana Kelly
Sabrina Krejci

And Year After Year…
Over 300 Community Volunteers Come Together
To Make Something Special Happen

Last and certainly not least, BIFF is successful largely because of the broad community support. Over 300 volunteers each year come together to help present BIFF to the broader community and visitors to our community. We have many many individuals, couples and families who have volunteered every year since BIFF’s inception.

There are too many to name but we know who you are and we thank you for your help. BIFF would not exist if not for our volunteers.
Thank you!

The Story of BIFF

The Beloit International Film Festival was the idea of a group of people involved with business, education, the arts, and entertainment in the small college city of Beloit on the Wisconsin-Illinois Stateline. Beloit has always been a community that, as it changed, challenged itself with new ideas, changing its identity and improving life for its citizens. The Festival founders wanted to show that a small city with spirit and drive could challenge settings and established programs far larger and better endowed.

The BIFF concept was presented to the community at a series of breakfasts and luncheons as the originators sought financial support, emotional encouragement, and volunteer involvement. Local industrialists Ken and Diane Hendricks stepped forward with a challenge, offering to match up to $40,000 raised from the community. The challenge was met within weeks and, in January 2006, just six months after the concept was promulgated, the first BIFF was presented at a half dozen venues throughout Beloit’s downtown area.

Humble Beginnings

It started as a long weekend designed to introduce the stateline community to the creative and cultural inspiration, challenges, and artistic rewards of cinematic art. An early principle of BIFF was to honor and celebrate ALL filmmakers in attendance and encourage audiences to recognize their work by engaging in exciting conversations. Social events went late into the night as filmmakers found a dedicated cadre of film lovers who filled their screenings and stopped them on the street, bought them lunch, and discussed their work.

One of the earliest events which has now been duplicated by a number of Festivals, was the Silent Film Showcase, presenting great films from the silent era accompanied by a new or original musical score, performed by the local symphony orchestra. The first show was sold out.

Another early project that has been honored, and continues today, is the “Kids at BIFF” program, designed to develop and educate the next generation of moviegoers. Each year, several thousand fifth graders from the region are brought to one of the large venues to watch and discuss a number of carefully selected films, presented in cooperation with the Kids First Foundation.

The first year was a widely reported success with positive reviews both locally and in national film publications. This prompted requests from surrounding communities to become settings for future films, expanding the number of venues to include settings on both sides of the state line.

Festival attendees walking from one venue to another in downtown Beloit WI

Ron Nief | BIFF Cofounder, Board Chairman

Ron Nief, Cofounder

Ron Nief, Rod Beaudoin, Becky Rogers, Joanna Kutter

The Four Pillars of BIFF
Ron Nief, Rod Beaudoin, Becky Rogers, Joanna Kutter

Dedication & Development

In 2012, with the growth in submissions and visits by as many as 180 filmmakers annually, BIFF expanded to ten days and used the additional time to celebrate the work of juried and non-juried local filmmakers representing Wisconsin and Illinois. The Wisconsin-Illinois Showdown now takes place the first weekend of BIFF and allows local filmmakers to establish relationships with other artists and to discuss their art and craft.

In 2014, in cooperation with local businesses and Beloit College, BIFF became a year-round Festival with films shown weekly, usually with filmmakers in attendance or electronically connected. During the summers, with the gift of a large inflatable outdoor screen, BIFF was able to show family films at parks throughout the area.

But the basic concepts of BIFF continue. Selected films are shown mostly in small venues, seating 30-100, most of them within walking distance of each other. The town and restaurants take on a Capraesque spirit as audiences move between venues. Large events, such as the annual BIFF Sing Along musical, the final Classic Film Showcase, presenting a great popular film selected by the community, the Silent Film Showcase, and BIFF CARES, which groups films with a social theme, continue to sell out larger venues.

In 2016, management of BIFF took on similar responsibilities for the Hollywood Film Festival creating a unique affiliation which is still in the development stage. And in 2017 the leadership of BIFF, under Executive Director Roddie Beaudoin since the start, will be assumed by Max Maiken, who has been involved with BIFF in various capacities for most of its dozen years.

Ron Nief
BIFF Co-Founder
Board Chairman 2005-2015
Board Member 2016 to date

Beloit International Film Festival Inc.
BIFF is organized exclusively for charitable purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, to create and stage affordable social, educational, and entertaining events. In addition, BIFF was created to harness the power of film to improve our community and ourselves.

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival