BELOIT - Crowds turned out to enjoy music, popcorn and a wide variety of films during the weekend opening of the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF).
People limbered up their singing voices for the BIFF Sing-a-Long film, "Godspell," at Schubert's Luxury 10 Theaters Saturday night.
"I've been waiting since January," said Rhonda Gilbank, as she settled in for the film, which is set in the 1960s and follows several hippie-like characters.
"It was the best decade of our lives," added Teresa Granberg.
Brooke Ruston and her mother, JoAnn, also were ready to enjoy the film and maybe sing a few songs. Brooke had performed in the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton's production of Godspell when she was in high school.
"I had a solo and a duet," she recalled.
Joan said she was going to rely on her daughter, who "knows the words," to the songs in the film.
Michelle Dennis was painting hearts and peace signs on the faces of the patrons at the showing and she led the audience in some pre-show vocal warm-ups.
BIFF Artistic Director Greg Gerard said the film festival has been doing well so far and there still is plenty for people to see and enjoy as BIFF goes into the next week. The film festival runs through March 3.
He said there have been a few behind-the-scenes hiccups having to do with technical errors, but all of the films and events were held with only minimal delays.
"I have to tip my hat to our operations staff for their work," Gerard said.
And, although the weather presented a challenge at times, people still turned out in big numbers.
"We had amazing crowds at some of our events," he said.
He noted, for example, Linda Chorney, who is featured in the film "When I Sing," had a huge crowd at La Casa Grande Friday night.
"As part of her Q-and-A session, she does a few songs. The crowd was wall-to-wall," Gerard said.
He added that the performance of jazz trumpet player Tony Scodwell at Suds O'Hanahan's also drew a huge crowd on Friday.
"I've never seen that many people in Suds before," Gerard said.
Some events coming up that are BIFF fan favorites include the Silent Film Showcase, which will be presented by BMO Harris Bank at Beloit Memorial High School on March 2. This year's silent film will be "The Kid," starring Charlie Chaplin and it will feature musical accompaniment by the BMHS Jazz Orchestra, directed by Chris Behrens.
Another favorite is the BIFF Classic Film and this year it will feature "Mary Poppins." The film, sponsored by First National Band and Trust, will be shown free of charge on March 3 at Schubert's Luxury 10 Theaters.
BIFF is in its 14th year. For information and a schedule of film dates and times, go to the website at https://beloitfilmfest.org.