Get ready - BIFF launches Friday

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Nicki Meyer, Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) "Maven of Merchandise" chats with Bagels & More owner David Siekierski about having a coffee special for the week of the festival in the BIFF mug. Last week Meyer was out promoting festival merchandise contacting local businesses to partner with on various specials. BIFF volunteers and those with partnering businesses are getting excited with the festival set to kick off Friday.

BELOIT - "If you close your eyes and point, you won't go wrong"

That's what Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) Executive Director Marty Densch said about picking a movie out of the program booklet to watch at the upcoming festival, set to kick off Friday.

Here's what's on tap for this week:

• Pre-sales of tickets will be held at Irontek, 635 3rd St., through today. People are encouraged to buy online as well at

• The box office will open Thursday in CELEB Gallery ABBA, 437 E. Grand Ave. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• BIFF kicks off Friday with acclaimed jazz trumpeter Tony Scodwell and the Highland College Big Band playing opening night at Suds O'Hanahan's, 435 E. Grand Ave.

• The "Godspell" sing-along will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Schubert's Luxury 10. Densch expects a good crowd at "Godspell," which many people have seen performed in high schools. It also will appeal to "anyone still nostalgic for long hair and bright clothes" as it's a throwback to the hippie era.

Densch said there are more than 300 volunteers this year, mostly selling tickets as well as film technicians. One of the tenacious volunteers is "maven of merchandise" Nicki Meyer who has been promoting the BIFF mugs, scarves and more. She noted the BIFF berets are back after a 5-year hiatus. She has been networking with business partners to offer coffee specials when fans purchase a BIFF mug.

Here are some of Densch's movie picks to consider:

• "Rodents of an Unusual Size" is a documentary about the exploding population of nutria, or giant rats, in the bayou. Densch said the strength of the quirky film is the cheerful and upbeat inhabitants of the bayou attempting to deal with the critters, whether it's harvesting them for food or pelts or befriending them.

• Those looking for a light hearted movie might want to see "When I Sing" by singer-songwriter Linda Chorney. The biographical film talks about her musical career, attempts to win a Grammy award and the politicking to get one. It features humor, cheer and good music. Densch noted Chorney will be in Beloit where people can get to know her. She also will be putting on a show at the Beloit Club.

• "Hello Girls" about women who were drafted during World War I by the Army Signal Corps to work telephones used for field communication. They weren't recognized as veterans until Congress passed an act in 1977 that granted them veteran status.

• "Radium Girls" is a narrative feature describing a true event, women painting glow-in-the-dark watch faces with the dangerous chemical of radium.

• "Eternal Winter," is a narrative based on true events set in World War I when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and kidnapped those of German heritage and put them into forced labor in coal mines.

This is the 14th year for BIFF, which runs through March 3.

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