BELOIT— Approximately 100 films, covering topics as diverse as homelessness, race, illness and The Beatles, will be showcased during the 10 days of the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF).
The 12th annual BIFF will take place this year from Feb. 24 - March 5 and will feature a variety of films as well as a number of special events. This year’s Silent Film Showcase will be “The Freshman,” starring Harold Lloyd. The film tells the tale of the nerdy freshman wishing to gain popularity on campus despite the antics of bullies and the competition from the captain of the football team.
The showcase will be at 7 p.m. on March 4 at Beloit Memorial High School and will feature musical accompaniment by the Beloit Memorial High School Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Chris Behrens. Tickets are $20 online and $5 for students with an ID.
This year’s Classical Film will be “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” at 2:30 p.m. on March 5 at Schubert’s Luxury 10, 2799 Cranston Road. The 1967 film tells the story of a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings her African American fiancé home. The film stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Houghton. Admission is free.
Assistant Director Max Maiken said “The Graduate,” which was originally planed to be the Classical Fim, had to be pulled because BIFF lost the rights to the film.
“It’s unfortunate, but it has happened before,” Maiken said of the change.
He said BIFF does a community survey on what movie to feature, and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” came in second place.
“It’s a great film and a great second choice,” Maiken said. “Given the (current) political climate, it’s just amazing that the film is 60 years old and still resonates.”
This year’s BIFF honorary chair is Jon Pavlovsky. Pavlovsky was a producer of “American Street Kid,” a documentary which earned the Best Social Impact Film prize at the 2016 Hollywood Film Festival.
“People came out with tears in their eyes,” Maiken said. “It’s a great film.”
The film has also been honored with the People’s Choice Award at BIFF.
“American Street Kid” follows the lives of homeless youth in Venice Beach, California.
The story follows the work of a young filmmaker, Michael Leoni, who set out to make a public service announcement that ends up as a feature-length study.
“Even though it showcases Venice Beach, you can apply this to any city in the country,” Maiken said.
Maiken said the director realizes what the kids need is love.
“It gives a solution to a problem that is seemingly obvious, but (it) isn’t used to currently alleviate the (homelessness) problem,” Maiken said.
“American Street Kid” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 25 at Bushel & Peck’s, on March 3 at Domenico’s and on March 4 at La Casa Grande.
Prior to working in entertainment, Pavlovsky spent years serving as a child advocate and counselor in group homes for the Department of Children’s Services. He then began producing and directing television commercials, later transitioning to developing and producing feature length films.
“American Street Kid” is a part of BIFF Cares, a series sponsored by Beloit Health System that examines mental health issues that will feature panels on the films. There will be a panel after the March 4 showing of “American Street Kid.” Other BIFF Cares films include:
• “Screenagers,” which examines adolescent addictions to smart phones and the developmental and social implications. There will be a panel at 5 p.m. on March 3 at Domenico’s.
• “The Monster Within” is an oral history film project that examines PTSD issues among veterans. There will be a panel at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 25 at La Casa Grande.
• “The Bear and The Owl” is the feature documentary examining the bond between a hospitalized young girl and a complete stranger.
Tickets for BIFF Cares films are $9 plus a handling fee online in advance, or $10 during BIFF.
On Feb. 24, Maiken said a live radio play, “The Maltese Falcon,” also will be performed in a format similar to “Prairie Home Companion.” The radio play is an hour long and is free. It will be held at 5:30 p.m. at La Casa Grande.
This year’s BIFF Sing-A-Long film is the Beatles hit “A Hard Day’s Night” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Schubert’s Luxury 10 Theatres. The film features more than a dozen of the band’s early songs. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students are available at the box office venue or online.
The BIFF box office is open at CELEB - Gallery ABBA, 437 E. Grand Ave. During the festival the hours will be 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission to most films. Youth tickets are $5. Tickets also may be purchased at the door using cash only.
For more information visit https://beloitfilmfest.org.