February/March 2021

It is time to BIFF!

All Access PassWhat a year it has been, and what a film festival we are going to enjoy. Feb. 19 is around the corner so reserve your seat (on the couch) and check the popcorn supply.

BIFF is playing in the big leagues this season. Our competition is international. From Cannes to Sundance, the world’s major film festivals are all virtual. We are proud to say that the same technology facilities that support those major festivals are also behind the production of BIFF. We are uploading films as we speak.

BIFF2021 will be an exciting experience with all the elements you love…except the venues and mixing it up late nights downtown. And this year film lovers will be able to purchase an ALL BIFF PASS, giving unlimited access to more than 100 films during the run of BIFF, Feb. 19-28. Details on the $120 pass are posted at beloitfilmfest.org.

Among the things BIFF is pleased to preserve is a long and supportive relationship with WCLO. Tim Bremel of WCLO will be back again on BIFF opening Friday morning, Feb. 19, with this year’s installment of YOUR TALK SHOW featuring interviews with BIFF filmmakers and staff, who will identify some of their favorites. Tim will also bring to the airwaves the annual BIFF Radio Play, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, directed by Edie Baran, and presenting our local versions of Lana Turner and John Garfield, live on Feb. 26 at 5:30pm.

Finally, a special BIFF THANKS. Beloit support continues to be amazing! BIFF supporters have stepped up to make sure that this important cultural touchstone in our community has both a great 16th birthday and a solid future…and if you would like to join them, BIFF president Ana Kelly would be tickled to hear from you (ana@beloitfilmfest.org).

And now, isolated in a snow drift setting up the screen at the BIFF Drive In, is the star of the show, BIFF Executive Director Greg Gerard, with supporting performances by Nancy Clark-Mather and Jimmy Velasco.

From The Resolutionary Desk of the Executive Director

Greg Gerard — Feb/Mar 2021

BIFF Reveal ParadeA great big thank you to my PR mentor, Ron Nief, for that succinct yet plentiful briefing. We are now at the point where we have so much to talk about that we can’t talk about all of it in this limited space. As Ron has done with the opening, I am going to try to stick to the facts and get you back to the business of visiting our website and choosing your wardrobes for the first event of the season, the BIFF2021 Drive-Thru Reveal Party!

Here’s your reminder that on Feb. 9 at 6pm you can jump in your automobile, or jump on your snowmobile, and head to 635 3rd St. in Beloit where you can cruise beneath the dreamy lights of the spine on IronTek drive, pull up in front of the BIFF Box Office, and be awarded a ‘hot off the press’ copy of the BIFF2021 program book, courtesy of the Beloit Daily News. There will be broadcasts on the internet and on the radio, chats with local luminaries, two cents and nonsense from yours truly, and the very first appearance of this year’s Honorary Chair, Snappy D. Turtle of Beloit Snappers fame, taking a victory lap with BIFF before he is put out to stud. Riley Gostisha of Gateway Professional Baseball will be on hand to interpret for the mute mock turtle. Programs will be handed out until 8pm.

And speaking of the program book, I can’t move on to other topics without first tipping the hat to the folks who got the job done again, and under more pressure than ever. As is the case with everything we try to do during this pandemic, our prep schedule got a late start and required an heroic effort from our staff, but especially from our layout designer, Mary Terry of Meridian-Direct in Janesville. For sixteen years Mary and her husband Mark have given their all to help us create a new edition of the most important print item BIFF produces. The patience and craftsmanship that Mary brings to the layout table every year is always way above and beyond the call of duty. And even when we are tardy with much-needed copy, artwork, logos, etc., she takes it all in stride and never lets us see her sweat. Thank you, Mary Terry, for your professionalism, devotion and friendship!

We are a little less than 3 weeks away from our February 19 opening and with so much going on and so many details for you…and me…to keep track of, the best advice I can give you in terms of staying on top of all-things-BIFF is to visit beloitfilmfest.org.

And as we close out another season of fevered preparations leading up to opening day, I want you all to know that this festival has been created anew by a team of talented and passionate men and women who have worked tirelessly for months and months to bring you another installment of our beloved BIFF. We don’t have all of the resources that some of our regional competitors have. Many on our team are working other jobs, running other businesses, or enjoying retirement, but still finding time to provide countless hours of labor to our cause. And under the current pandemic circumstances, they have had to contend with new challenges and reinvent how we put BIFF together in order to meet the needs of local health and wellness protocols, while still giving our audiences a high-quality experience.

BIFF2021 won’t be a whole lot like any BIFF you’ve seen before. But I can assure you that we WILL have amazing films, unique and interesting filmmakers for you to interact with, events and activities that the whole family can enjoy, and a global conduit through which the world will come to Beloit, and Beloit will go out to the world.

Start sharpening up your tech skills, polish up your television and your remotes, stock up on snacks and have your comfy clothes cleaned and pressed. BIFF is coming and it’s gonna be new, different, fun, crazy, puzzling and wonderful…and yours to enjoy

Now go home and get ready to BIFF!

We asked our Beloit College intern, Jimmy Velasco to fill us in on what he’s been doing on his semester break. He told us that he’s been busy watching a wide array of interesting films. Maybe while you wait for BIFF2021 films to become available, and in between your Netflix bingeings, you could take a look at a few of Jimmy’s faves.

The Intern’s Turn

Jimmy Velasco

Jimmy VelascoMy Semester Break Watchlist:

Da 5 Bloods
This film, directed by Spike Lee, follows four Vietnam veterans on their visit back to the developing country. The film switches between present-day and their memories of the battle on both fronts, one that was never truly theirs, to begin with. The film provides a historical backdrop to a story of friendship and sacrifice.

2020 meant the return of Wonder Woman in her sequel ‘WW84,’ The film takes viewers back to the 1980s and follows a new adventure for Diana Prince, during a time where everyone is driven to have it all for themselves and do whatever it takes to have it. Although there are problems with this film fitting into the rest of the DC cinematic lineup, it still delivers and showcases some well-choreographed fight scenes.

Pixar Animated Studios created a nuanced Disney film that makes us question where our passions, interests, and dreams come from and what they truly mean in the grand scheme of life. All this is shown to us through the process of souls traveling to earth. The main character, Joe, is a middle school music teacher who dreams of playing piano in a jazz band as a full-time career. After an accident, he is left to reflect on whether he was put on earth to play music or if he has a different purpose.

Sound of Metal
This film follows Ruben, a heavy-metal drummer whose life begins spiraling out of control when he starts to lose his hearing. As Ruben gets help from doctors, he struggles with wanting to get back to the music world and play in his band again. The Sound of Metal does a great job with sound design by using the right sounds, emotionally, at the right moment whether it is a muted or muffled sound that Ruben hears, or the pounding intensity of the drums, this film definitely stimulates the eardrums.

This 1970s drama comes from A24 and depicts a Korean family living in rural Arkansas working to achieve the American dream. The family struggles financially and the patriarch of the family has a difficult time starting his own farm in hopes to prove himself, in the end, it’s a lesson into what having a family is all about.

What Mathers Most

With Nancy Clark-Mather

Nancy Clark-Mather | Beloit FilmWorksKeep the throttle down. As a BIFF board member working eight hour days as of late, this has become my mantra. It’s a productive one for sure, but with a personality like mine that sometimes crosses over into power-drive, I need to be a careful driver. If my long-term goal is to nurture relationships with other board members in order to be an effective board member myself (or even be allowed to stay on the board worst case scenario) I have to constantly remember I’m only a small part of a team that is continuously striving for the greater good of this nonprofit organization commonly referred to as BIFF. I found some excellent tips on teamwork in a popular psychology magazine (see below). Since we are all part of some kind of team, whether it be home, work, sports, church, organizations, politics — I thought these tips might be helpful to you. I know they have been for me.

Put the team’s interests and needs first.
Share information pertaining to the team openly.
Get involved and be part of the SOLUTION.
Work cooperatively and eliminate competition.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Encourage and respect divergent points of view.
Challenge assumptions constructively, and with facts.
Ask and encourage questions.
Never compromise honesty and integrity.
Treat one another with dignity and build self-esteem in others.
Commit to excellence and seek ongoing improvement.
Seek to learn continuously and offer the knowledge to others.
Promote interdependence and cross-functional understanding.
Be patient and persevere.
Use honest mistakes as learning opportunities.
Manage your own behavior in line with these principles; be accountable for your own actions.

After I wrote this article I reflected back on the BIFF Board as an entirety and I was very encouraged. I realized we’ve all been operating under these fundamental principles even as we’ve faced tremendous pressures: A virtual festival with unprecedented technology hurdles, fundraising in the midst of a pandemic, promoting without our usual on-the-ground platforms, I could go on and on…. But we are getting the job done and done well, with diplomacy and dignity. We may get tired and cranky and overwhelmed — even downright scared at times — but we continue to pull together to get this festival mission accomplished. I’m real proud to be a member of the BIFF board. It’s an honor to be so involved with such a vibrant and essential nonprofit organization. And I’ve made new and lasting friendships with board members as we trudge along together to meet our common goals. It’s a win-win. (applause)

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