Friday, November 9, 2007

2008 Wisconsin Film Festival

Madison, Wisconsin, USA
3 to 6 April 2008
the tenth year

Deadline for all submitted material is December 31, 2007.


Please help us reach out to filmmakers around the world by sharing this call for entries with others.

This four-day festival is set in ten downtown theaters, all within walking distance, in the heart of Madison, Wisconsin, the state’s capitol city. The Festival presents the best new American independent and world cinema (feature, documentary, experimental), restored films, and the work of Wisconsin filmmakers through juried competitions. Over 175 carefully selected films and an attendance of nearly 30,000 make this an extremely popular, lively event in a city known for its friendliness and eclectic culture.

Everyone in this business likes to show their flattering press quotes, and we’re no different. Here are a few comments that we’ve added to our web site:

“The festival is programmed very intelligently, not just to carbon-copy every other festival, but to have some very interesting choices.”
— Roger Ebert, film critic

“I’ve learned about how films are made by listening to directors… I’ve also learned about catching fish with bare hands, keeping chickens, and that it is possible to eat a shoe.”
— S.M.O., audience member

“The Wisconsin Film Festival…has a way of turning all of us into cinephiles, intrepid explorers of the cinematic medium.”
— Kent Williams, film critic

“A festival that has not lost its wonderment in the medium of film in all its shapes and sizes.”
— Jonathan Kable, filmmaker

“The Wisconsin Film Festival highlights the value—indeed, the necessity—of an actual living, breathing, laughing, and crying audience to the act of artistic creation.”
— G.G., audience member

“It has quickly grown into a destination event for fans looking for foreign films, independent dramas, shorts and restored classics that rarely, if ever, see the inside of a cineplex.”
— The Capital Times

“The weekend of the Wisconsin Film Festival is a real highlight for our entire extended family and friends. We fit in as many films as is physically and emotionally possible.”
— P.L., audience member

“You will discover independent films by visionary filmmakers telling stories in original and profoundly personal ways. You will leave the theater deeply affected by the movies.”
— Shepherd Express

Read full press coverage of the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival online.

The Wisconsin Film Festival welcomes narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated films or videos of any length.

There are three categories:

* Open Reel (general submissions of any length, open to all)
* Wisconsin’s Own (films of any length from filmmakers with “Wisconsin ties”)
* Wisconsin Student Shorts (films under 60 minutes by Wisconsin college students or Wisconsin residents attending college in another state)

Is this festival right for my film?

We talk about whether films are “a good fit” for the Wisconsin Film Festival, because it’s hard to define or predict whether something will work in the program.

We present quality work that may not otherwise be seen in commercial theaters, and projects outside the mainstream film industry. We are looking for competence in the filmmaking craft; work that has vision and spirit; original subjects and well-told stories; and diverse voices.

The audience is terrific. Attendance in 2007 was 28,700 over just four days. Many folks have been coming since the beginning, and many make the Festival a priority on their spring calendar. We look 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.

If your film is selected — that unpredictable “good fit” — we’ll work hard to ensure that your film is always safely cared for, that your screening is promoted equally in the Festival program, that we build a good audience, and that the screening is on time with the best possible picture and sound quality.

See last year’s complete film list for a sense of what makes up the Wisconsin Film Festival program.

How is the Wisconsin Film Festival different?

There are many festivals that share our same interest in sustaining what’s good about motion pictures. We’re not unique. But the Wisconsin Film Festival is frequently described as having a relaxed, informal atmosphere, which is certainly true.

We don’t do red carpets, gala events, or have VIP access. Why? Because the audience knows that what matters is what’s on screen. This 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 to get special access. Ticket prices are low ($7, or $4 for students) and are available to all.

The theaters are all legit auditoriums, ranging from 155 seats to 1500+. We don’t use make-shift screening locations in places not suited for film. Whenever possible, films are screened on 35mm or 16mm (in 2007 there were seven film venues). Theaters dedicated to video are equipped for the Festival with high-quality professional projectors and decks that show clear, bright images (no HD, though). And all these theaters are close enough to easily walk between.

Some festivals rely entirely on submissions for their titles. Others barely bother. A portion of the Wisconsin Film Festival program always comes from this submission process, as part of our commitment to showcasing emerging talent.

There is no specific quota to be met in any category, nor in feature-length vs. short films. Each work is judged solely on its individual merit. Films shown in other festivals or in limited noncommercial exhibition are eligible. Preference is given to films without significant exposure in Wisconsin markets prior to the Festival.

We watch everything that is submitted. We do not farm out “prescreening” to others (for the Wisconsin categories there is a prescreening process by Festival staff before films are seen by the jury; see the downloadable guidelines for more info).

And we write original descriptions of each film for the program guide, because the audience wants to know what we like about yourmovie.

If your film is selected, a certain number of tickets to your film’s screening(s) will be reserved along with a ticket package for other films. We of course encourage anyone connected to the production to attend, but the Festival can only set aside a small number of tickets for each filmmaker. The Wisconsin Film Festival regrets that it is not able to financially support the travel expenses of all filmmakers. Acceptance of your film into the Festival program should not be interpreted as also including travel costs or other expenses.

More about the Wisconsin Film Festival.

A few details

Your film must have been completed after January 1, 2006.

You can submit more than one film, as long as each work meets the applicable criteria. Each film must have its own submission form, entry fee, and DVD/VHS tape.

The Festival will not consider:

1. Commercials or advertisements. Music videos. Educational, industrial, medical, or institutional films. Video games. Stand-alone trailers. Films with prior significant theatrical exhibition, commercial TV broadcast or webcast, or commercial video distribution.
2. Films submitted to the Wisconsin Film Festival in past years.
3. Films completed before January 1, 2006.
4. Work that will not be completed by February 15, 2008. The Festival does not include “works in progress” in its final program.

entry fees ($US):
Feature films (60 min. or more): $30
Short films (less than 60 min.): $20
Student films (any length): $10 (with photocopy of valid student ID)

Student status is counted when your film was created. If you made your film when you were a student, and have now graduated, you may still submit that film as a student.

Deadline for all submitted material is December 31, 2007.


Everyone will be notified of their film’s status (accepted or not accepted into the Festival) no later than February 15, 2008. At that time we’ll also notify any Wisconsin filmmakers who are receiving awards for their work.

Feel free to call (+1 877-963-3456 or +1 608-262-9009) or email if you have questions — we look forward to seeing your work.