It’s fitting that the ninth annual Beloit International Film Festival begins on Valentine’s Day, since the annual festival is such a love letter to film, made in Wisconsin and everywhere. While the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison and the Milwaukee Film Festival may draw more attention, BIFF holds its own with 120 films screened over 10 days.
While regional films are particiularly highlighted during the festival — given the city’s proximity to Illinois, it’s fitting that the opening weekend is a “Wisconsin-Illinois Showdown’ featuring films from both states. But the program expands to include films made around the country and around the world.
A full lineup of films and a schedule is available at beloitfilmfest.org, but here’s a quick look at films that caught my attention. For film fans in Madison, with the Wisconsin Film Festival still a couple of months away, it’s worth a trip down Interstate 90.
“Lion Ark” — (Feb. 21, 22 and 23) — This documentary looks at the dramatic rescue of 25 lions who were being abused in Bolivian circuses, and were airlifted to a new home in Colorado.
Silent Film Showcase — (Feb. 22) — The festival has several silent films screening at the festival, and the biggest event will be three short films by Charlie Chaplin, presented with an original score performed by the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra.
“Hasta Nunca (See You Never)” — (Feb. 14 and 21) — Think of it as a Uruguayan “Talk Radio,” as a late-night DJ in Montevideo encourages his listeners to share their innermost thoughts about their lives and the political situation in Uruguay.
“Go Down Death” (Feb. 15, 22, 23) — Fans of Guy Maddin (who is at the UW-Cinematheque later this week) will enjoy this surreal black-and-white drama “In Eye-Straining 2D,” purported to be based on a series of interlocking folk tales by a fictional writer.
“Convenience” (Feb. 21 and 23) — It’s “Dog Day Afternoon” meets “Four Lions” in this British comedy, as two hapless thieves take the occupants of a convenience store hostage.