My thanks to our monthly intro scribe, Ron Nief, for a great recap of recent highlights and things to come, and the nod to my 64th birthday, which was a very pleasant passage, thanks to the many of you who sent much appreciated greetings and wishes. I am humbled!
The end of the fiscal year is in sight, and a year of new possibilities is about to begin for BIFF! It’s no secret that the 2021 festival was about as unique as it has ever been in its 16 year history. And I am so proud of the way in which everyone, including staff, board members, volunteers and city officials combined their resources and energies to pull off a 10 day event that ran without any real hiccups at all. From the deep freeze of our 2021 Drive-Thru Reveal party, to the wintry evenings at the BIFF2021 Drive-In Theater, the festival team provided quality entertainment for the Stateline area, including virtual events with two former Academy Award winners; something that hasn’t happened since the early days of BIFF. We built it, they came, Snappy ruled from his Honorary Chair, we broke even, and we didn’t lose a season of one of Beloit’s favorite annual experiences. WIN, WIN & WIN!
So, what did we learn?
We learned that the in-person component simply can’t be replaced by an internet-based presentation. BUT…we also learned that the virtual tools we employed will likely be a continuing part of the BIFF agenda as we prepare for 2022; especially the Q&A and panel events that made it possible to include more filmmakers in exchanges with our fanbase than ever before. Our drive-in events were modestly, but respectably, attended, and I would bet that we will be offering at least one of those opportunities in 2022. We also learned that our sponsors are more loyal than we could possibly have imagined. Despite the struggles of the pandemic, the vast majority of our supporters came through for us with generosity that was both impressive and moving.
So, where do we go from here?
We are ready to hit the ground running, with BIFF Year ‘Round to begin in-person on Wednesday, April 21. We will have a new home at the Downtown Beloit Association’s spacious and accommodating new HQ at 557 E. Grand Ave., bringing you great indie films on Wednesday evenings that will continue through the first 2 weeks of June, and possibly beyond.
We are determined to take an aggressive posture in regard to fundraising, and hope to add a number of brand new sponsorships and grants, as well as some fresh donation appeals that will target funds for new projection equipment. And a plan is being devised to mount a summer weekend event in August, which Ron alluded to as a “Half-Way to BIFF 2022” mini-fest. We intend to add at least two new venues to the roster for 2022, one of which, we hope, will be the new Visit Beloit headquarters in the old Angel Museum location. We are also aiming for the Beloit College Powerhouse’s new theater, which would provide a whole new level of screening quality.
Beloit continues to grow, with the addition of a new ballpark, a new casino, new dwellings, many infrastructure improvements, and a renaissance that just won’t quit! BIFF expects to be part of that energy and enthusiasm, establishing itself as an arts program that will be vital on the Stateline for many years to come.
In the intro it was mentioned that we are starting to see a nice crop of new film submissions coming in, and that means it’s almost time to engage our annual squadron of pre-screeners (persons who have access to our submissions platform and receive weekly assignments to view and grade incoming films) and let the game of choosing next year’s film lineup begin!
If you’d like to be part of that savvy group of indie film fans, send me an email to that effect (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll hook you up. We need at least 20 persons to create the squad.
Ron’s intro also mentioned BIFF Outdoors. The schedule is under construction, with one event already under our belt; a successful drive-in event at Messiah Lutheran Church on Easter Eve. Bookings can be made by emailing me, as well, (email@example.com) and setting up a date for an outdoor screening of your favorite commercial or indie motion picture in your back yard, a municipal park, or even a golf course or arboretum! We can bring the show to wherever you are…and we can do it with seats on the lawn, or as a drive-in. These are great outdoor events that are cost effective!
Well…that’s the view from here, with BIFF2021 in the rear-view mirror. I hope that many of you enjoyed the ride. We are proud to have brought our festival into your homes. Thanks for letting us in. The next time you see a BIFF film it will, hopefully, be back at our house, in the warm and friendly surroundings of our beautiful downtown, with our grateful venue owners, anxious film fans, and smiling filmmakers. BIFF2022…here we come!