BIFF 2017: Twelve Years and Counting

Now in its 12th year, 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.

Diane Hendricks

Diane Hendricks

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

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.

President’s Message

You can’t move forward by standing still. That seems painfully obvious but not everybody “gets it” and not all organizations do, either. BIFF gets it.

Even though we’ve been offering this festival for twelve years now, BIFF isn’t the same festival it was twelve years ago or even two years ago. For one thing we’ve gotten more sophisticated, our standards are higher now and many of our offerings from those early days frankly wouldn’t make the cut today. We had to raise our standards, though, because you—our loyal audience—were demanding more. Filmmakers noticed and the number of submissions not only has grown but are of a far higher quality than before.

Other changes have included new features being offered from time to time. A few years ago we added BIFF Cares, where we focus on socially significant documentaries dealing with issues such as teen homelessness, health issues, end of life issues and more. We expanded BIFF beyond the confines of the 10-day festival with BIFF Year Round, Wednesday evening screenings in the spring and fall where we show favorites from the previous BIFF and previews of films being considered for the next BIFF.

At the end of BIFF 2017 we’ll see another major change as Executive Director Rod Beaudoin steps aside and Beloit native Max Maiken takes the helm. Max brings a new perspective and management style to BIFF and has been working closely with Rod to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Some things we don’t dare change. Our audience and filmmakers love our format with screenings in downtown storefront businesses. The business owners like love it too, of course.

Our motto doesn’t change, though. We’re still bring “the world to Beloit and Beloit to the world.”

Marty Densch
BIFF Board President

Marty Densch | BIFF Board President

The BIFF Team

Rod Beaudoin | Executive DirectorRod Beaudoin

Executive Director

A co-founder of BIFF, Rod is a veteran with over twenty years’ experience in entertainment, music and film festival promotion and management.

He began his career with a family heavy and highway construction firm based in Wisconsin where he rose to CEO before selling the company in the late 80’s before forming Gerard Entertainment.

Working directly with industry giants like Clive Davis and Ronnie Vance, Rod formed an artist development and publishing company he signed Midwest artists to multiple recording and songwriter contracts with Arista Records, RCA Records, Geffen Music and EMI Music.

He also formed a festival production division overseeing large and small events around the country and in 2005 Rod and several associates collaborated with industrialists Ken and Diane Hendricks to form the Beloit (Wis.) International Film Festival.

Max Maiken

Max Maiken

Development Director
Greg Gerard

Greg Gerard

Programming Director
Adam Fogarty

Adam Fogarty

Programming Director
Brittany Bailey

Brittany Bailey

Operations Director
Sabrina Krejci

Sabrina Krejci

Marketing & Social Media
Frank (Tiahua) Chen

Frank (Tiahua) Chen

Director of Hospitality

2017/2018 Board of Directors

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47RQepqj3gQ" target="_blank">BIFFY<em> (link)</em></a>

BIFFY (link)

Marty Densch

Marty Densch

President
Adena Dutter

Adena Dutter

Brenda Gould<br />& Honey

Brenda Gould
& Honey

Ana Kelly

Ana Kelly

Vice President
John Kalkirtz

John Kalkirtz

Jeff Livingston

Jeff Livingston

Jennifer Livingston

Jennifer Livingston

Secretary
Gary Meier

Gary Meier

Treasurer
Rick McGrath

Rick McGrath

Ron Nief

Ron Nief

Susan Picking

Susan Picking

Brian Ramsey

Brian Ramsey

Celestino Ruffini

Celestino Ruffini

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

Hollywood Film Festival Affiliate
BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival