June 2021

Happy 17th BirthdayIT SHOULD BE ON YOUR CALENDAR: It is time to wish Happy New Year to the Beloit International Film Festival. The Month of May annually marks the transition to planning for the coming year. The 17th season of BIFF will be all about the return to in-person screenings and new films, venues, and audiences.

One of those annual transitions comes with the makeup of the BIFF Board of Directors, a dedicated collection of seventeen community volunteer leaders that work closely with the executive director and the community to develop and support the festival. Ana Kelly, just reelected to chair the board, has announced the addition of two new members–Amanda Sink and Aaron Peterson—who bring a new generation of talented independent film lovers into the fold, helping to increase productivity and to reach out to a younger audience to complement our current demographic. (Full bios are below)

In addition, Rick McGrath, long time board member and board secretary for several years, has turned over his secretarial duties to Sue Hess, who has been on the board for a number of years and who will continue as board secretary and as part of the festival executive board. Our thanks go out to Rick for his tremendous service, and to Sue for her willingness to take on this new and important role!

EVAnother recent development is the growing relationship between BIFF and Evendtor, a new event promotion and support program created and directed by dynamic Beloit College student Jalen Ponder. BIFF will be partnering with Evendtor for a number of outdoor events, particularly a series of outdoor presentations on the BIFF Big Screen at the Rockton Athletic Fields at 12801 Old River Road in Rockton, IL. (Greg has more on this below)

In addition to the BIFF Outdoors programs, planning continues for a mini-BIFF event indoors—”Halfway to BIFF”– which will bring independent films to downtown venues this summer. Dates and details will be released in a couple of weeks.

And BIFF’s international role will be enhanced in coming weeks with the visit by Beloit native, independent film producer, and big fan of BIFF, Nicholas Simon. With his Indochina Production company based in Napa, California and Bangkok, Thailand, he is returning to his hometown to tour, meet, and talk about support for BIFF’s mission with BIFF board, staff and area leaders.

Don’t forget, BIFF Year ‘Round continues for the next two weeks at the fine new setting at the DBA offices at 557 East Grand Ave., providing a taste of some of the new independent films already submitted for BIFF2022. (Film info later in this issue)

And now, while BIFF STEW takes a hiatus for the summer, there is no such restraint placed on BIFF’s tireless Executive Director, Greg Gerard.

From The Empty Desk of the Executive Director

Greg Gerard — June 2021

BIFF Year 'RoundMy thanks to Ron Nief, BIFF founder and emeritus scribe, for his vast and informative opening remarks in this final Stew of the spring season!

It’s hard to believe that we are already on the threshold of another summer here in the Stateline area. With pandemic mandates loosening, it looks like we might enjoy a bit of normal warm weather activity together in the great unmasked outdoors…and indoors! We at BIFF look forward to seeing all of your naked smiling faces in the coming weeks! We have some fun planned for all of you!

There are still two opportunities to join our Wednesday night indie film event, BIFF Year ‘Round. Our new home at the Downtown Beloit Association headquarters (557 E. Grand Ave. in Beloit…Thanks Shauna El-Amin!) is a fantastic locale, and the remaining films of the spring series are must-see productions. Here’s more info on that:

Summer Films

Summer FilmsIn other summer fun news, the planned partnership with Evendtor that I mentioned last month is moving ahead with a full head of steam! Tickets are already on sale for two family films scheduled for June 11 & 12. Here’s a bit of info about our opening weekend presentations:

Friday, June 11…TOM AND JERRY…A chaotic battle ensues between Jerry Mouse, who has taken refuge in the Royal Gate Hotel, and Tom Cat, who is hired to drive him away before the day of a big wedding arrives. ( Narrative, Animation, Comedy, Family, PG, 101m)

Saturday, June 12…THE CROODS: A NEW AGE…The prehistoric family the Croods are challenged by a rival family the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.( Narrative, Animation, Adventure, Comedy, PG, 95m)

The film series will be staged at the Rockton Athletic Fields complex parking lot at 12801 Old River Road in Rockton, IL. Tickets are $19 in advance or $25 at the gate. Bring as many guests as will fit in your vehicle! Food trucks will be available throughout the evening. Films will start shortly after 8:30pm. (When the sun has set sufficiently and the image is bright on BIFF’s First National Bank and Trust Company giant inflatable screen!) Weather can be a factor, of course. So, we’ve made Sunday, June 13, the rain date if either film is interrupted by stormy weather. BIFF + EVENDTOR = FAMILY FUN!

BIFF Year 'Round Spring SurpriseWednesday, June 2, 2021…SPRING SHORTS SURPRISE…This is a collection of the finest short form films that been submitted so far for BIFF2022, combining genres such as drama, comedy, horror, thriller, and science fiction. MPAA ratings range from PG to R, so this grouping is for grown-ups only. You can cast your vote and leave comments for each film, and enjoy some lively discussion with BIFF moderators following the screenings. (Multi Genre, R, approx.75m)

Shellfish Poster, Hunter Hopewell, DirectorWednesday, June 9, 2021…SHELLFISH…A coming-of-age comedy enhanced by a bit of stop motion animation. Amidst mounting parental pressure to find a real job, college filmmaker Keller has one week to secretly produce a short film with his brother Kane and his longtime crush, Harper. When their shoot goes wrong, they confront each other about much more than production issues. Faced with his own selfishness, Keller must decide which is more important, his filmmaking or close relationships. DIRECTOR HUNTER HOPEWELL will join us from Los Angeles via Zoom for Q&A immediately following the screening. (Romantic Comedy, PG-13, 82m)

New Board Member News

Amanda Sink

As Ron mentioned earlier, the BIFF board of directors has grown again, adding two more bright and energetic professionals from the Stateline area who we expect to add more value to the BIFF experience for 2022 and beyond. Here’s a bit of bio info that will help to introduce these new and talented acquisitions to our BIFF nation:

Amanda SinkAmanda Sink is a passionate strategic non-profit professional with over 10 years of experience in non-profit leadership and development. Intrinsically motivated to serve others, Amanda educates, and advocates for, the less fortunate. She inspires others to rise up with a united vision by building team rapport and managing exceptional people in exceptional ways. Her skills include:

  • Strategic Planning & Execution
  • Mental Health Advocacy
  • Relationship and Partnership Building
  • Workforce Development
  • Non-profit Growth
  • Brand
  • Public Relations
  • Trends and Data Analytics
  • Communication and Presentation

In addition, Amanda has a great deal of experience with high quality independent film, having visited some of the most prestigious film festivals in the U.S. She is currently part of a successful podcast team that reviews all-things-indie-film on a regular basis from a location right here in the Stateline area.

New Board Member News

Aaron Peterson

Aaron PetersonAaron Peterson has been employed by Landstar System, Inc. since 2011. His duties and experience there have included:

  • Acquiring and implementing discount program opportunities for Landstar owner-operators
  • Organizing and managing major vendor events, including BCO Appreciation Day
  • Managing LCAPP personnel which have repeatedly placed in the annual Top 3 for Landstar’s internal Customer Service Award achievements
  • Producer and host of Landstar’s The Road to Success podcast

Since 2010, Aaron has been the Editor- In-Chief of the Hollywood Outsider Network where he is involved with the following areas of expertise:

  • Creating, producing, and hosting numerous podcasts including The Hollywood Outsider, The Blacklist Exposed, Beyond Westworld, Remake This Movie RIGHT!, and Presenting Hitchcock
  • Developing and maintaining the physical website (thehollywoodoutsider.com)
  • Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic
  • Annual dedicated press coverage of industry festivals including BIFF and SXSW

Amanda and Aaron have a great deal to offer BIFF in a wide variety of ways. They have already begun to team up with me and another board newcomer, Lindsay Mitchell, to form our BIFF2022 film programming committee (helping to recreate the ways in which we approach film selection) and helping me with prescreening and film grading. I’m sure we will also be turning to Amanda and Aaron for their input in strategic planning, event planning, fundraising, marketing, etc., etc., etc. We are so pleased to welcome these two talented and personable film lovers to our BIFF family!

What Mathers Most

With Nancy Clark-Mather

Nancy Clark-Mather | Beloit FilmWorksI’ve got a lot of irons in the fire and they are all exciting in a good way, but I always return with the most passion to my love of writing, specifically in film.

I was fortunate to be at the film society screening of Andrew Paul Davis’ feature length drama “Pompano Boy.” This was the film’s first screening and an exciting evening for the 26 year old filmmaker. An alum of BIFF, Andrew has 20 shorts to his credit and his first feature length film “Palace” showed here in 2018. He was gracious to make the drive from Chicago and we went to dinner afterwards with he and his partner. Needless to say, stimulating conversation ensued.

I’ll speak briefly to the film for those of you not in attendance. “Pompano Boy” simply put is an exploration of several aspects of an upbringing including a megachurch that heralded fostering as a cure to a real local crisis. Andrew joined a living-learning-community that studied orphans and vulnerable children and there he became aware of the hidden psychology experienced by a child separated from their family. There was a lot going on in the film and the filmmaker did his own editing. It covered many topics, all relevant, all worthy of time. And it’s so hard to know where to cut. Having said that, “Pompano Boy” is a terrific film and a BIFF2022 must-see.

Another discovery and something that fits right in with BIFF’s strategic plan moving forward, Andrew lives in Logan Square, a neighborhood in Chicago that houses The Logan Theatre. Read about it at www.thelogantheatre.com. It has a fascinating history as do most historic theatre venues. Less than two hours away, Chicago offers a wide open terrain of indie activity. Please, go see indie film this summer. We plan to….

At close of the evening, Andrew spoke about his love of film and how it provides an opportunity to learn outside of your own circle, expand your horizons, educate – not only yourself but others surrounding you. To quote Robert Altman: “Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.”

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