The Weyauwega International Film Festival, presented by Wega Arts, will be returning November 11-14 to the Gerold Opera House for its fifth year of films from around the globe. This year the festival will be screening forty-three films representing seventeen different countries. Many of the films were either made in Wisconsin or have Wisconsin connections.
The 13th of the month of November happens to fall on a Friday which of course invites an opportunity to screen horror films. The Weyauwega International Film Festival (WIFF) has seized this opportunity to satisfy the horror hounds in Central Wisconsin and will be screening horror films and thrillers all day on Friday the 13th in what they are calling a “Friday the 13th Fright Fest”. Most notable in this line up is the world theatrical premiere of the new feature film DISMEMBERING CHRISTMAS by local filmmakers Steve Golz and Kevin Sommerfield of Slasher Studios. They will be on hand to present their twisted Christmas tale at 9 pm. Another Wisconsin film screening on Friday is HAUNTED STATE, a blood chilling documentary which explores the hauntings of several locations in Wisconsin including the Stone Cellar Brew Pub in Appleton, the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee and locations in Wisconsin Rapids and Merrill. The filmmakers including director Michael Brown of Appleton will be in attendance for the screening of HAUNTED STATE at 3:30 pm on Friday. The other scary Wisconsin film is the psychological thriller THE SCARAPIST which tells the tale of a distraught women who is led astray by a very demented therapist. The writer, director and star of the film, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza is expected to be in attendance for this entertaining thriller which screens at 5:15 pm on Friday. For those looking for a good possession tale there are two offerings. IN THE DARK by New York filmmaker David Spaltro offers a very spooky and original demonic possession tale featuring a mostly female cast which screens at 7 pm. At 10:30 pm LUCIFEROUS promises to raise the chill factor with its story about a family that is being tormented by a very nasty entity. This unique tale features a real couple and their daughter as the onscreen family. This especially creepy film has lately been honored with several awards on the festival circuit.
Of course WIFF is not all about horror films. Some great feature films and documentaries as well as a wide variety of short films will be screened this year. Wednesday’s lineup includes the documentary THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO CHARLIE at 5 pm about outsider artist Charlie van Ness who started out making a wide variety of art objects featuring phalluses. The filmmaker follows Charlie for several years and his persistence pays off. There are some very unexpected and harrowing developments in Charlie’s life. At 7:30pm on Wednesday the Sci-Fi film EMBERS screens. EMBERS is set in a post apocalyptic world where a global virus has wiped out the memory of everyone it infects. This is no zombie or Mad Max marauder flick, it is a very thought provoking and touching existential tale of identity and what it is to be human. The film follows several characters as each morning they awake with no recollection of the day before or who they are. This film is a real conversation starter and is also beautifully filmed. EMBERS has an encore screening on Saturday, November 14th at 2:15pm.
Thursday features the classic 1959 court room thriller COMPULSION about the Leopold-Loeb murder case starring Orson Welles screening at 1:30pm. The film will be introduced by noted film historian Dr. Jack Rhodes and it is also a free screening. The documentary POLYFACES screens at 5:15pm and examines the unique and highly sustainable farming practices at the Polyfaces Farm in Virginia. This film is a real eye opener about the potential of sustainable farming and should be a must see for anyone environmentally or agriculturally minded. At 8pm the extremely timely documentary PEACE OFFICER examines the results of the recent surge in the militarization of our police forces. In Utah, a crime scene investigator offers clear and insightful examinations of several extremely violent cases involving SWAT teams. In a sad note of irony, this examiner’s family also becomes the victim of an SWAT raid gone wrong. This film is one of those ‘Must See’ films for anyone who is a citizen of this world.
Saturday starts with a filmmaker seminar with local filmmakers Dan Davies, Craig Knitt, Rex Sikes, and Jim Breckenridge, a script writing consultant, at 10am. An encore screening of the previously mentioned EMBERS screens at 2:15pm. The very entertaining romantic comedy DIRTY BEAUTIFUL screens at 4pm. The documentary about Wisconsin Supper Clubs, OLD FASHIONED screens at 6pm. The filmmakers, Holly L. De Ruyter & Brian Risselada, will be in attendance and of course Old Fashioneds will be featured at the Gerold Opera House’s full bar.
The closing night film is a documentary about the state of photojournalism in Afghanistan. During the Taliban regime all photography was banned and women were severely oppressed. FRAME BY FRAME follows several young Afghani photojournalists both men and women who are again facing the threat of another uprising by the Taliban. This film shows a truly beautiful side of Afghanistan that is rarely seen while simultaneously illuminating the dark reality and horror of oppression in a society that seems to be forever doomed. This is an outstanding film and festival director Ian Teal states that this is a ‘must see’ of the fest. FRAME BY FRAME screens at 7:30pm and will be followed by an awards ceremony and reception with complimentary appetizers and of course, conversations about film.
The historic Gerold Opera House is celebrating its one hundredth year in 2015. It is only about a 25 minute drive West of the valley in Weyauwega conveniently located off of HWY 10. There will be soup and sandwiches available for purchase as well as fresh popcorn and a full bar so plan to make a day of it.
Tickets are $12 for a day pass and are good for any one film or a whole day of films. Festival passes are $30 and are good for the whole festival. The full schedule can be found at wegaarts.org. Festival passes and day tickets can be purchased at wegaarts.org and at the Book Cellar in Waupaca and Rural Relics Antiques in Weyauwega. The box office can be reached at 920-867-4888. See you at the Gerold!