BIFF kicks off to sellout crowds

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  • Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Beloit International Film Festival staff welcomed a gala of princesses to Schubert's Luxury 10 for the BIFF Sing-A-Long of Disney's Frozen Saturday evening in Beloit.

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    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Miss Beloit Katrina Laursen and Miss Beloit's Outstanding Teen Samantha Grahn spent time with Rileigh Herfel (front right), Will Herfel (middle) and Maeve Herfel ahead of Saturday night's Beloit International Film Festival Sing-A-Long of Disney's Frozen at Schubert's Luxury Number 10 in Beloit.

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    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Beloit International Film Festival staff member Nicki Meyer (middle) has helped out with BIFF for the festival's entire 13 year running in Beloit. On Saturday she helped coordinate BIFF's Sing-A-Long to Disney's Frozen. Here she's pictured (from left) with Will Herfel, Maeve Herfel and Rileigh Herfel.

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    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News As part of the Beloit International Film Festival's Sing-A-Long screening, BIFF selected the top three costume winners from Saturday's screening of Disney's Frozen.

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    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News From left: Miss Beloit Katrina Laursen and Miss Beloit's Outstanding Teen Samantha Grahn (back) stand with fellow princesses Nora Walker (front left) and Molly McKillips ahead of Satruday's sing-a-long of Frozen during the Beloit International Film Festival's kickoff weekend.

  • Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Beloit International Film Festival staff welcomed a gala of princesses to Schubert's Luxury 10 for the BIFF Sing-A-Long of Disney's Frozen Saturday evening in Beloit.

  • 1

    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Miss Beloit Katrina Laursen and Miss Beloit's Outstanding Teen Samantha Grahn spent time with Rileigh Herfel (front right), Will Herfel (middle) and Maeve Herfel ahead of Saturday night's Beloit International Film Festival Sing-A-Long of Disney's Frozen at Schubert's Luxury Number 10 in Beloit.

  • 2

    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Beloit International Film Festival staff member Nicki Meyer (middle) has helped out with BIFF for the festival's entire 13 year running in Beloit. On Saturday she helped coordinate BIFF's Sing-A-Long to Disney's Frozen. Here she's pictured (from left) with Will Herfel, Maeve Herfel and Rileigh Herfel.

  • 3

    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News As part of the Beloit International Film Festival's Sing-A-Long screening, BIFF selected the top three costume winners from Saturday's screening of Disney's Frozen.

  • 4

    Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News From left: Miss Beloit Katrina Laursen and Miss Beloit's Outstanding Teen Samantha Grahn (back) stand with fellow princesses Nora Walker (front left) and Molly McKillips ahead of Satruday's sing-a-long of Frozen during the Beloit International Film Festival's kickoff weekend.

BELOIT - Rain couldn't keep movie-goers away from Beloit over the weekend as hundreds flocked to various Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) events across the city.

The opening weekend of the 13th annual citywide festival drew increased ticket sales from last year and popular films drew large crowds, according to BIFF Director Max Maiken.

Popular opening weekend events included the screening of the football fandom documentary the "60 Yard Line" directed by Leif Gantvoort and the opening night kickoff "BIFF After Dark," with the Beloit Memorial High School Jazz Orchestra performing with acclaimed trumpeter and Beloit native Tony Scodwell.

"Sales have been incredibly strong and it looks like we are up," Maiken said. "We hope it can sustain momentum into the next week."

Maiken added that the "BIFF Cares Series" documentaries "Making of a Soldier" directed by Ralston, Burke and Strange and "Desert Around Me" directed by Alessandro Beltrame had strong showings.

Tickets to "All the Queen's Horses" by director Kelly Richmond Pope sold out, with two additional screenings added following increased demand. The film tells the events of Dixon, Illinois Comptroller Rita Crundwell, who stole $53 million in public funds over two decades, building one of the largest quarter horse breeding empires in the country.

Maiken said BIFF could add additional screenings from the six current showtimes.

"We can't keep up with demand," he said. "It's quite incredible...It's one of those local stories that people are really interested in hearing more about and learning of what happened."

He added that BIFF always looks to include films with local impact.

"If we know there are films out there that are going to mean something to the local audience, we will go out of our way to reach out to directors asking them to submit."

As always, families came out Saturday night in droves for the popular BIFF Sing-A-Long event at Schubert's Luxury 10, featuring Disney Animation's 2013 hit film "Frozen."

Princesses and snowmen descended upon the theater, with kids eagerly awaiting a chance to belt out hits from the movie, most notably "Let It Go."

Ahead of the screening, Miss Beloit 2017 Katrina Laursen led families in a warm-up rendition of "Let It Go," followed by staff overseeing a costume contest before kids settled in for the winter classic.

Princesses Molly McKillips, age 6, and Nora Walker, age 7, who dressed as Anna and Elsa, respectively, said they were excited to sing along with the movie.

"We're ready to sing," they said. "It's fun."

Still ahead this week include BIFF's Silent Film feature on March 3 with the BMHS Jazz Orchestra performing the score to "The Cameraman" starring Buster Keaton. On March 4, BIFF will revive "The Sting" featuring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Filmmaker and actor workshops continue March 2 and 3, taught by filmmaker Damien Patrik, BIFF's first artist-in-residence and actor Bates Wilder.

For more information on BIFF, including a full schedule of events, see beloitfilmfest.org or call the box office at 608-466-9693.

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