BELOIT - Die-hard Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) fans braved the ice storm Tuesday evening to get a glimpse of the freshly-minted program booklets, a hot dinner buffet and peeks at the festival's best trailers.
The BIFF Reveal Party was held at the new Home2 Suites by Hilton Beloit on Cranston Road in cooperation with the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours. The event featured festival updates and commendations of BIFF's many fans and supporters. Attendees also had the opportunity to sample BIFF's special brew, BIFF PILS, from Wisconsin Brewing Co.
After a hearty meal courtesy of Domenico's, BIFF Executive Director Marty Densch and Artistic Director Greg Gerard named the Honorary Chair for 2019, Tom Hankins. Hankins has operated Suds O'Hanahan's Irish Pub in downtown Beloit for more than two decades.
Gerard said Hankins and BIFF go way back, with the pub being a destination for filmmakers and festival fans and serving as a screening venue in some of the early years. It remains a BIFF After Dark venue and will help launch the 2019 festival when it plays host to acclaimed jazz trumpeter Tony Scodwell and the Highland College Big Band at 6 p.m. on opening night, Feb. 22.
Hankins, who was home with the flu Tuesday evening, was unable to make to the event.
The program also recognized Beloit Memorial High School student Giulia Oliveri who won first place in the poster contest with her design selected to be on the cover of the BIFF program booklet. Gillian Hansen was the runner up.
Gerard reminded the crowd that many of this year's films include female actors, directors and producers with the festival having a female empowerment theme.
"It was a moral imperative we give a tip of the hat to women in film," Gerard said.
Despite the freezing rain outside, many Beloiters came out to the event to show their support.
Kim and Tom Finley, who were socializing on their way to the food line, said they were eager to come out to the reveal.
"It's fun to see what's coming up," Kim Finley said.
"You get your BIFF excitement started," Tom Finley added.
Lori and Craig Woerth said they were glad to be back to the event. They said they attend BIFF every year with Craig volunteering and the couple seeing at least a few films each year. They said they hooked their daughter Rachel Woerth in the festival as a teenager and she still comes back to BIFF with the family.
This year at BIFF there will be more than 100 shorts, narrative features, and documentaries screened during the 14th Beloit International Film Festival, Feb.22 - March 3.
The BIFF program booklet will also appear in the Feb. 8 weekend edition of the Beloit Daily News.