The gears are rolling for the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival, which is just over six months away. The biggest news is that the tentative dates for the event have now been solidified, with the festival set for April 12-15, 2007. This is two weekends later than the usual date, with the change resulting from the timing of spring break at UW-Madison. This was only one of several announcements made this Tuesday afternoon by Meg Hamel.
Formerly the interim director of the 2006 edition of the film fest, Hamel was hired at the end of the summer to direct the festival this year too. She's been busy the last two weeks since her hiring. Along with festival volunteer Tom Yoshikami, Hamel has been attending the Toronto International Film Festival to scout potential selections for the Wisconsin Film Festival.
Working under the aegis of the Wisconsin Arts Institute, Hamel's next big task is to line up festival infrastructure, particularly the venues for screening the films. With the demolition of University Square Four and the impending closing of the Hilldale theaters, the festival will be in need of more screens. Potential venues include the new Sundance Cinema theaters at Hilldale (should it be open in time), the relatively new lecture hall at the Overture Center, and the rooftop gardens at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, just for starters. None of these locations are assured, however, and others may be under consideration.
Another element of next year's festival that's being addressed is its submission guidelines, particularly those persons looking to enter their productions into the Wisconsin's Own and Student film categories. These updated guidelines are expected to be ready within weeks.
"The 2006 Festival was a phenomenal success," Hamel wrote in her Sept. 19 announcement. She explained that "more people came to see more films" in 2006, with some 26,000 persons viewing 177 total flicks over the course of the weekend. Attendees from outside of the Madison metro area, she continues, were assisted by online ticket sales.
This growth in size and scope is a "tough act to follow," Hamel noted, but one that's already underway. There's a special Wisconsin Film Festival screening on Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Cinematheque theatre in the UW's Vilas Hall. As part of Arts Night Out, this six-month preview screening will feature Gregory's Girl, a 1981 Scottish film directed by Bill Forsyth.