Festival reports 'amazing turnout'

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Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News BIFF Director Marty Densch speaks to attendees of this year's Biffy Awards at a ceremony Saturday morning at the Hotel Goodwin in downtown Beloit.

BELOIT - From surprise crowds to last minute favorites, the Beloit Film Festival's 14th annual citywide cinematic tribute was central to the theme "expect the unexpected," as organizers prepare for a big anniversary in 2020.

BIFF wrapped up two weekends of film screenings, events, and awards with a ceremony Saturday, with BIFF Programming Director Greg Gerard estimating this year's attendance was as expected and on par with past festivals.

"All I can tell you we are shoulder to shoulder with all past years and the biggest years, aside from last year with having to add new screenings, but we are poised to meet those numbers," Gerard said. "We've had an amazing turnout for a variety of films this year, plus we do have a blockbuster with the Jeff Daniels film. The numbers are looking good, fingers crossed everything all wrapped up nicely. Saturday could've been our biggest day of the festival."

He thanked the volunteers, sponsorship partners and the core half-dozen of BIFF staffers.

"I think that all the preparations went according to plan. It was a long and laborious ramp up to the festival but the team really pulled it together and they came out of the box prepared," Gerard said. "Most of the little hiccups were under the radar of the audience in terms of small technical difficulties."

Seemingly the most popular films over the festival's run at five venues across Beloit were "When I Sing" and "Hello Girls," along with a host of impactful documentaries and short films awing filmgoers.

"We expected our base of strong support and filmgoers love films from our area and films that have something to do with veterans and the amazing personal stories in the documentaries that were screened," Gerard added.

In a way-too-early glance at next year, Gerard said the BIFF board of directors and staff would brainstorm later this month to hatch early ideas for marking the 2020 festival as BIFF's 15th year in Beloit.

"We are excited for what next year will bring and trying to come up with a special way to celebrate the biggest BIFF films from the 15 years," Gerard said. "We are thinking about something that's all old features."

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