By Mary Summerbell
In 2020 Beloit International Film Festival celebrates fifteen years of vibrant life – with extra enthusiasm, extra excitement and extra special events. If you’ve never been there, it’s a great time to give it a try. Or, if you have gone – go again!
BIFF, as it is affectionately known, brings upwards of 100 films and 150 filmmakers to Beloit, WI, annually, for a ten-day movie marathon of independent films. And it provides provocative opportunities to meet the movie makers, (sometimes celebrities), face-to-face, in workshops and in question and answer sessions after many of the viewings.
BIFF’s tagline is “Bringing the World to Beloit and Beloit to the World.” I think these words perfectly encapsulate BIFF’s purpose and mission, as well as my personal experience of this event. I’ve been “BIFFing” since 2013, but it’s become so meaningful to me, such an important part of my life, that I feel like I’ve gone to it much longer than that. I do feel deeply that Beloit International Film Festival brings the world to me in a way that nothing else in my life does. Partly because it’s such a condensed experience, which gives it an intensity over seeing one movie at a time. I usually view twenty movies, or more. Sometimes four in one day. One year I saw a film in every time slot, even those added last minute at the end. What a buzz! It took days to get my brain back into my ordinary reality. (And for my eyes to adjust to daylight.)
That’s a little crazy, maybe. But that’s what I love about BIFF. It takes me away. These films are this nervous traveler’s safe ticket to faraway places and far out ideas. BIFF, for me, is simultaneously an entertainment escape and a way of facing many different realities. BIFF films explore all kinds of relevant issues, on many levels – personal, local, national, international – giving glimpses, or sometimes a deeper look, into another perspective. Through the stories the movies tell, and the live interactions with the movie community, I meet all kinds of people in all kinds of situations that are far removed from my little life – and yet, surprisingly, sometimes – a lot like it. Whatever the topic, however presented, I see something of myself, and others, in every movie.
My movie adventures at BIFF have reinforced my belief that we are all more like each other than different. BIFF helps me see the common denominators in human experience, and to understand and accept the differences. BIFF also gives me opportunities to support values that I strongly believe in; shopping locally, eating fresh, local foods, volunteering, maintaining good mental health by getting out and socializing – even in bitter winter. By participating in BIFF I am supporting local business, the arts, ongoing education, global awareness, self-improvement, and world peace and harmony – all at once! That’s a lot of bang for my BIFF bucks.
There are so many fun, wonderful BIFF activities I haven’t mentioned here. It’s BIFF year’round. Hop online for all the details. Just search Beloit International Film Festival to find history, current event schedules, directions, volunteer and ticket information – and hundreds of movie trailers. Get a peek at what you might like to see. Get a sense of the essence and the spirit of BIFF. Then, when the 2020 film schedule comes out, take your chances, make your choices, and I’ll see you there – Beloit International Film Festival – Friday, February 21st through Sunday, March 1st, 2020.