Perusing the guide to this year's Wisconsin Film Festival this past week has left me wishing I had not one long weekend but a full week or perhaps a month to take in the 13th annual cinematic celebration, scheduled for March 30 through April 3.
Distributed today as a supplement to this week's Isthmus, the Wisconsin Film Festival guide is suffused with documentary, experimental, narrative, restored and short films from across the U.S. and around the globe. Whether you're a cinephile or an occasional filmgoer who craves some alternative to mass-market commercial movies, even reading the descriptions for these films can induce a Pavlovian salivary response to the opportunities looming at the end of the month.
Perhaps the most significant change to this year's festival guide has to do with series titles: Except for Restorations & Revivals and the cornerstone Wisconsin's Own series, other movie clusters are organized by affiliations with co-presenters including the UW's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the UW's Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives and the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Ann Arbor festival director David Dinnell, for example, has joined with two UW-Madison grad students to guest-curate an impressive schedule of avant-garde and experimental films.
There must be thousands of ways to craft your own festival schedule. You could, for example, start at the end of the guide and work your way back through the list until you've scheduled as many films as you can absorb in one long weekend.
You might discern your own themes based on titles expressing affection (Le Amiche, Eskimo Kiss, Loving Lampposts, In the Courtyard of the Beloved, Love Me Tender), color (The Red Chapel, A Pitcher of Colored Light, Cluny Brown, A Study in Reds, Blueberry, Color of the Ground, The Color Wheel, Pink Saris, The White Meadows, Woman in Purple), seasons (How I Ended My Summer, Summer Pasture, Open Season, Summer Wars, Winter Vacation), sound (Louder Than a Bomb, The Bells of Bascom Hill, NYC Street Scenes and Noises, A Screaming Man, Songs from the Nickel) or imperatives (Get out of the Car; Blink! Again; Shut Up, Little Man).
You could also craft a satisfying schedule by restricting yourself to one venue, or movies beginning with a letter like C, or movies produced in the southern hemisphere. Or you could sift out a long short list and winnow it down from there in a search for the unfamiliar or provocative or amusing.
With more than 200 titles to choose from and ticket sales starting at noon this Saturday, March 5, working out your Wisconsin Film Festival schedule carries some urgency no matter how you go about it. Buy tickets online or at the festival box office (Memorial Union, second floor). Find the guide with your copy of the March 4 Isthmus, available today, and get cracking.