Filmmakers will once again be celebrating the WI/Il Showdown on the opening weekend of the Beloit International Film festival, starting Feb. 22. The popular event offers an opportunity for film fans to get in on the ground floor in spotting future Oscar winners. More than three dozen films are part of this year’s Showdown. They include narrative features, documentaries, and shorts, and audiences will get a chance to vote for your favorites.
The Showdown draws film artists and fans from throughout the region and puts them in friendly competition. This year, Milwaukee filmmaker Kristin Peterson, the creator of the Showdown, has rejoined the BIFF staff as WI/IL Showdown director. She promises “more high quality regional films than ever before and a great turnout of regional filmmakers.”
In recent years, some of BIFF’s hottest films have emerged from the Showdown. Last year’s most popular offering, All the Queen’s Horses, started its screenings during the first weekend. Showdown films like 2016’s Cheeseheads and 2017’s The Bear and the Owl proved to be among the biggest hits of the festival. They have helped cement the Showdown as quintessentially BIFF.
According to BIFF Artistic Director Greg Gerard, one of the films to watch for this year from the Wisconsin side is the new film, Back at the Staircase, by Beloit native Drew Britton. The drama regarding a family dinner that is thrown into chaos when the host falls down the stairs, ending up in a coma. Trapped together waiting for the doctor’s call, the estranged family members begin to reveal their true selves.
Britton attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned his MFA in film. After making his first feature When the King Tilts, the film played a number of festivals, picking up numerous awards along the way.
From the Illinois side of the border, he suggests Ginger, about a recent college graduate who doesn’t have a clue what to do about her future. Getting diagnosed with breast cancer doesn’t ease that anxiety, and what about her love life? When she crashes and burns it threatens her support structure and her few real relationships. Only when she is forced to face her greatest fear will she have the awakening she needs.
The film is more than a passion project for directors Melissa Beck-Boratyn and her husband Jimmy. The couple met during their undergraduate studies at Loyola University and since graduating in 2011 they started a successful film marketing business, They completed their MFA program at DePaul University in 2018 with Ginger as their MFA thesis film..
The WI/IL Showdown is generously sponsored by Beloit Auction and Realty, WCLO Radio, Voigt Music Center and MKE Production Rental.
A complete listing of WI/IL Showdown films is available at beloitfilmfest.com and tickets are now available.