2014 Wisconsin Film Festival schedule is just 24 hours away!

Joe4

I was going to write a “Twas the Night Before Christmas”-style introduction to this post in order to capture the excitement Madison film fans are feeling on the eve of the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival schedule going live. But then I looked out at the snow coming down outside, and it just hit a little too close to home. Weather gods, seriously? It’s March.

But psychologically speaking, over the years I’ve actually found the schedule release to be a help in getting through the last, nasty vestiges of winter. It’s a sign, as sure as shoots pushing through the ground, that spring is on its way. If, in a month’s time, we’ll be tromping through the rain to get to a screening, so be it.

The schedule for the festival, which runs Thursday, April 3 through Thursday, April 10 (less than a month away!) officially goes live tomorrow at wifilmfest.org and will also be featured in a pullout section in this week’s Isthmus. Forty-eight hours later, on Saturday, tickets go on sale ($9 advance/$10 at the door, and $5 for students) at Union South, by phone and online. Venues this year include all the usual campus spots (UW Cinematheque, Chazen, Union South Marquee) and Sundance for every day except opening night. And, as a special treat, the festival is returning downtown for one full day of programming at the Capitol Theater.

Having served on this year’s Golden Badger Jury, I know of a few titles coming to this year’s festival that I’m not allowed to divulge. But the festival has publicized a few tantalizing details via email blast and social media.

On the festival’s web page, we see that the schedule will include a number of restored classics, including films from Alfred Hitchcock and Jacques Demy that will dovetail with ongoing series at the Chazen and Cinematheque, respectively. Specifically, it looks like that Sunday at the Capitol Theater will include a rare original Technicolor print of  Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” and a restored version of Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” on the big screen.

Festival organizers also revealed a few details about the opening night of programming, specifically that filmmakers David Gordon Green and Jeff Spitz will attend the festival to screen their films “Joe” and “Food Patriots,” respectively. Green was actually at the festival way back in 2001 with his debut film “George Washington,” and went on to an acclaimed career in both indie (“All the Real Girls,” “Prince Avalanche”) and mainstream (“Pineapple Express”) films. “Joe” (pictured above) stars Nicolas Cage as an ex-con father trying to reconnect with his estranged son. “Food Patriots,” inspired by Spitz’s experiences when his son fell ill from eating contaminated chicken, looks at the chemicals and additives in modern food, and urges Americans to find ways to learn about and eat healthier food.

The festival is holding an opening night soiree on Thursday, April 3 in Union South’s Prairie Fire space — $40 gets you in to rub elbows with Green, Spitz and other filmmakers and film fans, as well as tickets to see both their films that night in the Union South Marquee.

It may not seem like it now, looking outside. But April will be here before we know it.

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