Beloit International Film Festival restructuring leadership roles

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) Executive Director Max Maiken and BIFF Board President Marty Densch gather for a photo. Maiken will soon be stepping down.

BELOIT - As Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) Executive Director Max Maiken steps down, the board of directors for the film festival is planning a reorganization of BIFF's management structure.

Maiken announced Wednesday he's leaving his position to further pursue his education as part of the MBA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His last day is still being determined, and he's agreed to work as a consultant through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition.

"Beloit International Film Festival is here to stay. We are in very good shape. We will miss Max's talents, energy and steady hand, but we aren't going anywhere," said BIFF Board President Marty Densch. 

Maiken has been with BIFF on and off since 2010 when he started as an office manager. In 2015, he became development director and then assistant director. In May of 2017, he replaced former Executive Director Rod Beaudoin. Maiken assumed most of Beaudoin's duties six months prior to Beaudoin's resignation as part of the transition. With Maiken departing, Densch said the board will take the opportunity to reorganize the BIFF management structure.

Currently there are two full-time employees - Maiken and Assistant Director Greg Gerard. The board plans to redefine Gerard's role, giving him the title of artistic director, which may become the top position in the organization. Despite the new title, Densch said Gerard will continue to select and procure films, organize BIFF year-round, host BIFF Outdoors screenings, set the film schedule and work with filmmakers and invite them to the festival.

As opposed to hiring an executive director, BIFF will be hiring a development director/business manager who will maintain business contacts and sponsorships as well as garner new sponsors and supporters. The new position will need to be in place sometime in the next two months.

"Business sponsorship has been a critical part of BIFF since the beginning and will continue," Densch said. "There never would have been a first festival without the support of the business community."

For example, Densch said BIFF has been blessed with committed sponsors since the beginning such as Diane Hendricks, local banks, the Beloit Daily News and others.

Densch wishes Maiken the best. He credits him for making BIFF 2018 one of the most successful and largest festivals to date. Maiken also brought a sense of discipline and structure that kept BIFF in a comfortable financial position.

Maiken said he's always wanted to go back to school to get a master's degree and wants to pursue it as a personal goal. However, he will miss BIFF. He said he loved establishing relationships with community members and helping define Beloit for the better.

Densch said BIFF has many exciting events in the works. The Second Annual Summer Blockbuster music event will be held from 5-11 p.m. Aug. 11 on IronTek Drive. The third annual Reel Deal, a fundraiser, will be held Oct. 27 at the Beloit Public Library, and more details will be coming soon. The BIFF Year-Round series will be starting up in the second week of September at the Hendricks Center for the Arts. Attendees have the opportunity to see films submitted to BIFF. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday.

In 2018, BIFF had 110 films from 27 different countries and attendance was around 5,000. More than 9,000 people were part of BIFF's year-round events such as BIFF Outdoors, BIFF Year-Round, Kids at BIFF, Summer Blockbuster, Reel Deal and Cinema a la Carte.

Maiken said film has always been an escapism for people, and BIFF is a festival celebrating it. Beloit International Film Festival not only showcases art, but brings people together to converse and share ideas.

Densch said he loves what BIFF has done for the community. It brings excitement and hustle and bustle to Beloit's downtown during the last bit of winter.

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