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Blogging the 2007 Wisconsin Film Fest: Act Two

The ninth annual edition of the Wisconsin Film Festival is already three-quarters complete, but the online reviews, discussions, and storytelling about Madison's celebration of cinema is only beginning.

Blogging about the second day of the festival follows below.

Volunteers are an essential element of the four day event. One describes her experiences on Friday:

  • Sara Ziemendorf describes spending the all Friday evening and night at Monona Terrace, taking tickets and managing the crowds in and out of the auditorium there. She writes:
    We were housed in the Lecture Hall at the Monona Terrace, the same place where Michael Feldman hosts What d'Ya Know on the weekend. In fact, the What D'Ya Know show was going to be held the next day, and we were warned that we had to clean up our materials thoroughly or they might be thrown out.

    There were 7 of us. We stood around a lot, and waited for people to show. I ran the cash box and sold tickets. I eventually relented and let another volunteer do it because he looked so bored. I was going to be there until midnight; I had plenty of time to do all of the jobs that needed doing...
    Ziemendorf also comments briefly on the many films screening at the Terrace on Friday, including It's in the Blood, Everybody Promenade, The Cost of Living, When Pigs Fly, Ball Saved, and Sportsfan.

Members of The Daily Page Forum attending movies this weekend are continuing to share their thoughts:

  • One prolific reviewer attended the first screening of Lars Von Trier's The Boss of it All at MMoCA, and concluded that it was a "cool movie." The festival-goer wrote:
    You must watch closely for the first 15 minutes or so to understand what is exactly happening, but once you understand you'll be taken on a ride on a fly's back. The story is concise along with the dialogue. You will have some emotional attachment to some of the characters and even feel let down by some.

There were plenty of other films screened Friday night, and the reviews are already starting to pile up:

  • Jeff Kuykendall completed a marathon sequence of three movies in nearly seven hours on Friday night, reviewing each in detail. The first was the comedy classic Young Frankenstein:
    Then began the movie with the sex jokes, the Marty Feldman mugging, and Gene Hackman as a blind hermit setting Peter Boyle's thumb on fire. What can you say? It's Young Frankenstein, and it works best with an audience (although the show was not sold out--there were many empty seats in the front).
    Up next for the prolific film reviewer was Here is Always Somewhere Else, a documentary about the Dutch artist Bas Jan Alder:
    The documentary itself is deeply sympathetic to Alder's quest to pinpoint the most reckless creative moment in the creation of art, while maintaining enough distance to view his final feat with a touch of regret and sadness.
    The final film on Kuykendall's plate last night was El Topo, a work by the "notorious cult filmmaker" Alejandro Jodorowsky barely seen since its creation in the '70s:
    But, like everyone else at Friday night's sold-out screening, I had to see it as it was intended to be seen -- as a midnight movie.
  • "Downtown Madison is in the middle of the Wisconsin Film Festival and it's nearly impossible to get into any of the films without advance purchase tickets," explains one festival-goer. She ended up seeing two movies on the second night of the fest, screening at Cinematheque and the Frederic March Play Circle in the UW Memorial Union, respectively. After briefly describing The Hip Hop Project, she takes a close look at Tim's Island, a story of survival in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She concludes:
    Words cannot begin to explain how I am beginning to feel about New Orleans. Can I say I might be falling in love? How can you possibly fall in love with a city, a city that is below sea level and hundreds of miles away? It makes no logical sense! Yet, I can't stop thinking about it, the people there, the way of life, the art, the music, the sense of humor people have down there. I mean, the second or third day, one of the guys (a New Orleans native) started talking about putting on a parade on the water, costumes, floats (no pun here), and everything. Crazy, I tell you, crazy!
  • Erik Weiss reviews the Chinese gangster flick Exiled, which screened late Friday at the Orpheum Main Theatre. He concludes: "It had a compelling plot, several bits of humor ('How many pounds is a ton of love?'), and a great but unexpected ending, that without, the movie would have been pretty average."
  • Adam Schabow offers a glowing review of Wristcutters: A Love Story on Dane101. "This is the type of movie I love," he explains. "It's experimental, quirky, adventurous, funny, sweet and even mythical to some extent."
  • John Wiedenhoeft at the State Journal recommends the Israeli drama Close to Home, which he viewed at MMoCA. "Told from a strictly Israeli perspective, the film refrains from making a political statement," he writes, "and instead shows the soldiers as complete women who have to make tough choices every day -- sometimes to their own despair."
  • Wiedenhoeft also comments briefly on King Corn and Exiled.

Finally, there are reports and commentary about festival life, the temporary nomadic experience of moving from theater to theater in search of the next reel (or break from the same):

  • Jesse Russell at Dane101 comments on the first official party of the festival, which featured a performance by Leslie and the LY's at Cafà Montmartre on Friday night. "It is a nice change of pace and hopefully a precursor to the potential for parties every night next year," he notes.
  • Mark Sadowski offers a photo gallery from the Leslie and the LY's show. He also describes one memorable moment of the night:
    The show's excitement heightened when Leslie called up several Junior Gem Fan Club members to have their sweaters named. Note to future folks, Leslie does not like when you name your sweater before she does. She was gracious enough still name it, though.
  • Then there is a discussion on TDPF focusing on various "funny, stupid, or serious ramblings" overheard at the festival.
  • Back at the State Journal, Wiedenhoeft ruminated upon the difficulty of picking a final agenda for the serious festival-goer. He writes:
    Trust me, this isn't due to a lack of planning. It's done by design. Part of the joy of a film festival is the unlooked-for gems that you can stumble upon and too much adherence to a schedule can ruin the sponteneity. Plus, as any athletic coach will tell you, there is no such thing as too much depth. Some decisions may be hard, but none of them are bad. A good film fest goer must be able to do what good jazz musicians do: improvise.

More blogging about the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival can be found in Madison Miscellany. If you have any online writing or photos from the fest, please send a message.

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