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Monday, December 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 37.0° F  Light Drizzle Fog/Mist
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Movie mania

Well, if 67 degrees - Tuesday's high temperature - doesn't get your sap flowing, then maybe the Wisconsin Film Festival will. The 2007 program is included with this week's Isthmus.

Though not a traditional harbinger of spring, the festival, annual since 1999, has become a vernal icon as familiar as the robin. It's being held a little late this year, April 8-11, to accommodate the UW spring break. That's only fair, since the Wisconsin Film Festival is a program of the UW Arts Institute - one that is heartily supported by the community, including commercial sponsors (of which this publication is one), as well as 200 private citizen volunteers.

And it's the general public that reaps the bounty of the festival in a weekend feast of film viewing. Film Fest director Meg Hamel has been around for seven of the festival's nine years. Her aim is to produce a festival that's all about the films, rather than attendant foofaraw like stars and red carpets. For this she is thanked by the passionate patrons of Wisconsin's first and preeminent film festival. They also appreciate the compactness of the event, with 10 venues within walking distance of each other and, new this year, three large venues that should be able to handle the crowds for the most popular films.

If you're one of the folks who've been calling Hamel with urgent requests for information about this year's edition of the fest, know that all, or at least most, of your questions will be answered in the 40-page program with the cover that screams spring. The cover design is one of three patterns by Swedish designer Hanna Werning that will serve as the graphic signatures of this year's festival. Inside that wrap is the essential information about the 182 films comprising the festival, including synopses, schedules, parking info, maps and more.

More good news: Ordering tickets online should be a breeze this year. Visit the fest's site, If you want to be among the first to sign up for tickets, the box office, virtual or otherwise, opens this Saturday, March 17. Since this is also boys basketball weekend, you might want to avoid downtown and do your ticket shopping online.

There are, and will continue to be, additional stories and features concerning the fest at Click on the "Daily" or "Movies" tabs to find more stories, press packs and film clips, and join us in the anticipation.

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