Wisconsin filmmaker creates inspiring documentary on longtime friend in BIFF film

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Clarence Garrett, whose return to school at 85 years old is the premise of the documentary "Clarence," goes to guitar class at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The film is to be shown at the Beloit International Film Festival.

BELOIT — A touching tale about a Wisconsin man with a dream to finish college despite his ailing health and advanced age will inspire audiences at this year’s Beloit International Film Festival.

Clarence, the story of 85-year-old Clarence Garrett, will be shown at Bagels & More Friday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m. and again Saturday, Feb. 27, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets to Beloit International Film Festival features are available now on the BIFF website. They cost $9 in advance or $10 at the door, and student and bulk discounts are available.

Filmmaker Kristin Catalano has known Clarence since she was 8, when he worked in the grocery store her family owned.

“I knew that, when I was going to make a documentary, it was going to be about him,” she said, adding that he is a World War II veteran who survived the Great Depression and is just generally an interesting human being.

When she was conducting early interviews with him, she asked him what his biggest regret was. Much to her surprise, he told her it was that he wishes he had finished college. He contacted her again a few months later to tell her what he planned to do, and she followed him on his journey through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“I hope that it inspires people,” Catalano said. “Clarence is proof that you can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it.”

Clarence is the first full length feature Catalano has made since earning a masters degree in screen writing at UCLA, and it’s been a long time coming. Much of the footage was shot a decade ago.

Catalano is from Wisconsin. She earned her undergraduate degree in Milwaukee and currently lives there. She is currently working on a shorter documentary about medical practices and writing a narrative screenplay.

Kristin Catalano

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