The Wildwood Film Festival is back with its 19th annual event. This year it is being held on Saturday, March 14 at Lawrence University in downtown Appleton. It will be showcasing more than 40 short films with ties to the beautiful state of Wisconsin. The Wildwood Film Festival is the only film festival in the world that has been committed to Wisconsin filmmakers for 19 years. Over that time it has showcased over 500 short films as well as a handful of feature films.
Wildwood began with very humble roots by hosting its first event at the West Pitcher Show (currently the Tarlton Theater) in Green Bay. Festival founders Craig Knitt, Thomas Thorne and Jason Buss wanted a venue to showcase their newly produced feature film “The Hunt” and developed a film festival around that event. That first event was a great success and allowed the team to produce a second, and even more successful, event in Shawano. The festival found its way to Appleton with the third event where it has remained for the last 17 years. The festival has utilized many Appleton venues throughout the years including UW Fox Valley, the Big Picture and the Appleton Performing Arts Center.
This year the festival will be hosted at Appleton’s Lawrence University. While the venue may be new, Wildwood‘s commitment to Wisconsin based filmmaking is stronger than ever. Almost all of this year’s entries have been 100% shot in the state with Wisconsin-based casts and crews.
With Wildwood 2020 there were a few leadership changes. Current festival President Craig Knitt had this to say, “We lost our fearless leader Jason Buss this year. He has become involved in filmmaking on a much more serious level and we’re excited for him. Myself and Tom Thorne (the other founder) are still committed to Wildwood. We’re hoping to reach our 20th year and beyond as it’s becoming a rather significant venue in our state for Wisconsin-based creators. We feel it’s very important to continue to advocate for the artists that choose to stay in our state. I love the stories our Midwest sensibilities allow us to tell. There’s certain humor, humility, and charm that can only come from Wisconsin. I’m personally very proud of that I want to celebrate that in as many ways as we can.”
The festival always has something for everyone. Each session throughout the day on Saturday is peppered with a variety of dramas and comedies. Session One also includes six documentaries with topics ranging from women’s lumberjacking to the use of immigrants in Wisconsin farming. Session Two begins with three short animated shorts with one entitled “The Weaver Girl and The Cowherd” which was created by Madison-area school children. Session Three hosts a few heartfelt dramas including “Anger” by director Len Borrusso that stars Appleton’s own Dan Davies as a teacher grappling with his own issues. The final session of the night will be seasoned with the same variety. It will also host our horror/thriller films from around the state including Manitowoc filmmaker Melonie Gartner’s newest film “Shadows” in which she plays the main protagonist.
This year we are showcasing two films by Friend of the Festival, Roger Bindl. His first film is a documentary dedicated to Aquaculture taking place in our state while his second film is an animated short based on an original story entitled “The Perch in a Pothole”.
Saturday night the festival ends with a party. This has proven to be a great place to meet some of the filmmakers, network and just have a great time.
A few surprises for this year‘s event are still in the works so keep your eyes on the Facebook page and the website for any additional updates. Come on down and celebrate Wisconsin filmmaking!