Founded in 1999, the Wisconsin Film Festival is the state’s premier film festival, in the heart of Madison, its capital city. This four-day annual festival takes place each spring in eight to ten campus and downtown Madison theaters. The Festival presents the best new independent film (feature, documentary, experimental and animated) and world cinema, and showcases the work of Wisconsin filmmakers through juried competitions. Nearly 200 films are screened. About 34,000 people attend. There are three categories: Wisconsin’s Own Student Shorts; Wisconsin’s Own; and Open Reel (general submissions of any length, open worldwide).
The Wisconsin Film Festival looks for films that represent different facets of filmmaking, from polished productions to no-budget gems. Each year’s selection of films is a blend of significant pictures scouted from around the world, combined with smaller, under-the-radar works that illustrate a variety of filmmaking styles. The Festival is about bringing great motion pictures — large and small — to Madison for well-organized screenings in front of enthusiastic (and usually sold-out) crowds. It’s not about celebrity culture or people paying high prices to get special access. Ticket prices are low ($7, or $4 for students) and available to all.
The theaters are all legit auditoriums, ranging from 155 seats to 1500+. WFF does not use make-shift screening locations in places not suited for film. Whenever possible, films are screened on 35mm, 16mm, or high-quality digital video. Theaters dedicated to video are equipped for the Festival with high-quality professional projectors and decks that show clear, bright images. And all these theaters are close enough to easily walk between. The festival is frequently described as having a relaxed, informal atmosphere.
The Festival is a program of the UW Arts Institute, a nonprofit educational unit of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Governed by arts faculty and staff, the Arts Institute represents the collective voice and strength of the arts at the University, and works to make the campus arts more visible and effective. The Arts Institute funds and supports projects including artist residencies, awards and fellowships, public programs, and arts marketing.
821 University Avenue|
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
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