BELOIT - Patrons got their first look at all the movies being screened at the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) this year during the 2018 Reveal Party Wednesday.
The event was held at the Hampton Inn in Beloit as part of the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours event.
The 13th annual BIFF will run from Feb. 23 through March 4, with films being screened at several venues around Beloit.
Executive Director Max Maiken said the biggest difference in this year's festival is a focus on education.
"We want to have programs to inspire more story tellers of the next generation," Maiken said.
One way BIFF is accomplishing that goal is by partnering with the Help Yourself program at Beloit College. Students are currently going out with cameras and shooting videos on the following prompt: "you've crash landed on planet Earth, and you have to figure out where you are." He said the videos will be edited and screened during a slot at BIFF.
The organization also decided to use young local artists from Beloit Memorial High School to design the cover of the BIFF program. Rick McGrath, a member on the BIFF board of directors, presented a large poster version of the cover to Rene Aguilar, the senior at Beloit Memorial who designed the cover.
"All of the big boy film festivals have a poster, and I wanted one, too," McGrath joked.
Marty Densch, president of the BIFF board of directors, praised Maiken's efforts thus far on planning his first film festival as the executive director. Former executive director Rod Beaudoin stepped down after last year's film festival.
"Max has been brining youthful ideas to the festival...this is going to be a much fresher film festival than you've seen before," Densch said.
Greg Gerard, BIFF's programming director, introduced some of his favorite films, including numerous comedies, foreign and family films, documentaries and more.
Hillary Kreager, who has served as general manager for the Schubert's Luxury 10 Theatre, came with her mother Nancy Kreager to the reveal party. She's enjoyed working with the film festival for years.
"February is a huge month for movies, and with great events like the Sing-A-Long and the Classical Film Showcase it's a good way to get people to the movies," Hillary Kreager said.
Tom Finley, owner of Finley Buick GMC, has donated vehicles to transport the filmmakers and artists for years.
"It's great to be able to support something that's so spectacular for the community," Finley said.
Namoonga Mantina, health and wellness coordinator for Beloit College, has enjoyed socializing, seeing great films and networking at previous film festivals.
Tickets for BIFF films and event will be available starting Monday at the BIFF box office at Gallery Abba in the CELEB building, 437 E. Grand Ave., and will continue through the end of the film festival. The box office will be open from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. and from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. during weekdays leading up to the festival and from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Feb. 17. The box office will be closed on Feb. 18. During the festival, the box office will be open from 11 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. every day. Maiken said tickets are already available for purchase online.
Fan favorites such as the Silent Film Showcase, Sing-A-Long and Radio Drama all will be returning this year. For highlight's of this year's BIFF, read today's Step 'N Out feature on page A8.
Copies of the BIFF program book were released Wednesday evening and will be delivered to Beloit Daily News subscribers with Friday's paper. For more information, visit https://beloitfilmfest.org.