BIFF 2018: Thirteen 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.

What is it that keeps bringing audiences and filmmakers back to BIFF

Since its start, BIFF has been committed to honoring filmmakers. That artistic respect is carried on by the audiences that come to BIFF each year. From educations programs in partnership with the Beloit School system, that reach out to elementary school aged “audiences of the future” to Society for Learning Unlimited (SLU) courses, is association with Beloit College, for intellectually active seniors, BIFF has encouraged appreciative and knowledgeable filmgoers.

In addition to full venues, BIFF celebrates the filmmakers with a variety of amenities ranging from their own hospitality lounge, special evening parties, tickets to films and events, and the annual BIFFY Awards night.

Diane and the late Ken Hendricks inspired the creation of BIFF and encouraged community support of the program. Their active participation in the planning process and in helping to develop professional ties with the film industry has been invaluable. Diane continues the Hendricks Group’s support and involvement.

BIFF has received broad national attention and has been called the “next big thing” by Moviemaker Magazine and has been identified as one of a half dozen alternatives to “Sundance” by The New York Times.

BIFF is a unique celebration of this great American art form, designed for the film lover and the film maker

Diane Hendricks

Diane Hendricks

Beloit International Film Festival Inc.

Ken & Diane Hendricks

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.

Bringing the World to Beloit & Beloit to the World

President’s Message

Ana Kelly

BIFF Board President

Welcome to BIFF, the acclaimed International Film Festival that is hosted in of all places, the humble metropolis of Beloit Wisconsin.
Beloit Wisconsin?

Our board, our staff, our volunteers and the broader Beloit community together with our sponsors take a lot of pride in offering this film festival. Together we have worked very hard in developing a reputation among independent filmmakers for putting on a great event and providing even greater audiences that are knowledgeable, engaged and welcoming. Because of this built reputation each year we’ve been able to attract amazing filmmakers and exceptional films for our audiences.

Our filmmaker’s from across the country and around the world have lots of screening options. They truly appreciate engaged, inquisitive audiences and we provide that through you, our festival patrons.

Our audiences also have lots of entertainment options. They appreciate inspired, engaging, first-rate independent film that’s not generally available anywhere else and often times get a first look at films destined for the big screen and/or mass market distribution deals. The bonus is that often times you’ll have the opportunity to actually meet the filmmakers and inquire about their project. Participating in the shared experience and discussion with other audience members and the filmmakers is part of what sets apart a BIFF from often solitary and passive media consumption more generally available to us.

Our volunteers without whom BIFF would not exist. While some participate because of their enthusiasm for the art form the vast majority participate because they see BIFF as something good for the community we share together. It’s good for the Beloit community so they’re all in. And we appreciate that. Honestly, that’s a large part of why we do it as well, it’s good for Beloit.

Our sponsors make BIFF possible. Frankly, ticket sales don’t cover the overhead. Without the generosity and broad support of our sponsors BIFF would cease to exist. Please, take a moment and note who our sponsors are. We work hard to provide them all the visibility and appreciation we can. Like our volunteers though, I suspect there’s a fair amount of support because these community-minded and locally invested sponsors likewise recognize the benefit BIFF brings to the community. They want to be a part and we couldn’t be more appreciative of our association.

So join us for BIFF 2019. You will experience something uncommon, entertaining, often enlightening, inspiring or moving. The International Film Festival in of all places, Beloit Wisconsin welcomes you.

The BIFF Team

Marty DenschMarty Densch

Executive Director

Greg Gerard

Greg Gerard

Programming Director
Brittany Bailey

Brittany Bailey

Operations Director
Adam Fogarty

Adam Fogarty

Shorts Programmer & Press Outreach
Sabrina Krejci

Sabrina Krejci

Marketing & Social Media

Board of Directors

Brenda Gould<br />& Honey

Brenda Gould
& Honey

Ana Kelly

Ana Kelly

President
John Kalkirtz

John Kalkirtz

Nathan Lipps

Nathan Lipps

Jeff Livingston

Jeff Livingston

Jennifer Livingston

Jennifer Livingston

Secretary
Gary Meier

Gary Meier

Treasurer
Terry Meyers

Terry Meyers

Rick McGrath

Rick McGrath

Ron Nief

Ron Nief

Susan Picking

Susan Picking

Celestino Ruffini

Celestino Ruffini

BIFF Photographers

Peer Canvas Photography and Video

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

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