On screen at the Gerold Opera House
Movie fans can spend four days watching independent and foreign films at the Gerold Opera House.
The Weyauwega International Film Festival runs Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 14-17.
The schedule includes films from Japan, China, Iran, Poland, Russia, Germany, Spain, Kosovo and Canada, as well as movies made in and about Wisconsin.
Documentaries, dramas, comedies, features and shorts are among the highlights of this year’s festival.
Several directors, producers and actors are also expected to be at the festival to speak about their work.
Sponsored by Wega Arts, the festival opens at 1:30 p.m. Thursday with a psychological thriller called “Midnight Lace.”
Released in 1960, “Midnight Lace” features an unusual performance by Doris Day, who plays a recently married American woman in London who is driven insane because nobody believes her claims that she is being stalked and threatened with murder.
Jack Rhodes will introduce the film with a brief discussion.
At 4 p.m. Thursday the festival will present “The Lady in Number 6.”
“This is a bittersweet and touching film,” said Ian Teal, who organized the festival with his partner, Kathy Fehl.
“The Lady in Number 6” is a short documentary about Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor. A resident of London, she shares her inspirational story on the importance of music and laughter.
Thursday’s lineup also includes three short films at 5 p.m., “9 Full Moons” at 7 p.m. and “Mourning Has Broken” at 9 p.m.
Describing the film as gritty, dark and well-acted, Teal said “9 Full Moons” is about “two young people in Los Angeles who meet and fall in love and try to stay together against insurmountable odds.”
Teal advised that the movie is rated R due to adult language and sexual situations.
“Mourning Has Broken” is a Canadian film about a man who wakes up one morning to discover that his wife has died.
“He ignores that fact and proceeds to do the errands on a to-do list that his wife had left him,” Teal said.
Friday, Nov. 15
Friday opens at noon with three feature-length documentaries: “If Only Cats Could Talk,” “Tough Ain’t Enough” and “A Circus Life.”
“A Circus Life” is one of two Wisconsin films at this year’s festival which were produced by Tom Boldt, the CEO of Boldt Construction.
Directed by Gene Gamach, “A Circus Life” tells the story of Charles ‘Chappie’ Fox, who rescued hundreds of antique circus wagons and restored them to their original glory. It is a 90-minute documentary about the American circus.
At 5:30 p.m. Friday, the festival will present four short films.
The most notorious film this year will be “Escape From Tomorrow,” slated for showing at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s a weird, surreal sci-fi film about a man who’s having the worst day of his life while with his family at Disney World,” Teal said, noting there is brief nudity and sexual situations. “The setting makes the film all that more perverse.”
Shot surreptitiously at Disney World, Wega Arts had planned to screen “Escape From Tomorrow” at last year’s festival, but the film’s release was delayed due to legal issues.
Friday night is also Horror Night at the Weyauwega Film Festival.
Scheduled to show at 9 p.m., “Billy Club” is set in Milwaukee 15 years after a gruesome triple homicide involving a Little League team. Four friends reunite to commemorate their fallen teammates and a killer shows up wearing an umpire’s mask, carrying a spiked baseball bat and seeking revenge.
Nick Sommer, the director and writer of “Billy Club” will be at the festival.
“Don’t Go to the Reunion” is a slasher film directed by Steve Goltz, written by Kevin Sommerfield and made in Oshkosh. The filmmakers will be present for the screening at 10:30 p.m. Friday.
Saturday, Nov. 16
Saturday’s schedule begins at 10:30 a.m. with short films from Spain, England, Russia and Belgium.
At noon, the festival continues with “Pints and Pins,” a documentary about four friends who traveled throughout Wisconsin, visiting small bowling alleys and exploring one of the state’s cultural heritages.
The director of “Pints and Pins,” Nathan Ripperger, will be at the festival.
Another series of short films will be screened at 1:30 p.m., including the Iranian film, “More Than Two Hours.”
Nominated for the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival in France, “More than Two Hours” depicts a boy and a girl in a desperate situation, wandering the city in search of a hospital to cure the girl.
“Mike’s Migration,” showing at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, tells the rags-to-riches story of Mike Kunz, a Wisconsin welder who moved his family to Alaska, worked on oil rigs, then started his own business. The movie was directed by Mike’s son, Adam Kunz.
“You really get to know this family,” Teal said. “It was beautifully shot.”
Adam Kunz and his family plan to be at the festival.
At 4 p.m., “Escape From Tomorrow” will be shown again.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, the festival will present another series of shorts, including the U.S. premiere of “Kappa the 5th, Part 3,” an animated film based on Japanese folklore; “Vows,” an eight-minute film directed by former Lawrence University student Alexander Kohnstamm; and “Caroline,” a film written and starring Dan Davies, who will be at the screening, along with the director, Jill Melody.
At 7:30 p.m. the festival will present a humorous documentary, “The Great Chicken Wing Hunt.” Director Matt Reynolds is joined by his long-suffering Czech girlfriend, a perplexed Slovak film crew, and a gang of wing-obsessed misfits recruited online on a 2,627-mile trek in search of the perfect Buffalo wings.
The awards ceremony and reception are scheduled for 9 p.m. and include Buffalo wings.
Sunday, Nov. 17
On Sunday, the festival opens at 11 a.m. with short films from Spain, Israel, Kosovo and Poland.
A highlight of Sunday’s schedule will be “The Price of Sand,” slated for 12:30 p.m.
The film’s director, Jim Tittle, described how he came to make a documentary on the frac sand mining boom in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa:
“A year ago, an oil company bought land next to my mother’s house in rural Minnesota. The deal was kept secret for months, because the new owners wanted to build a huge open pit frac sand mine. When their plans became public, I started to investigate. Over the course of this 18-month project, I interviewed small town mayors, truck drivers, business owners, farmers and two angry moms. I learned that pure silica sand is used for everything from toothpaste to window glass. And I found out that the price of frac sand can’t be quoted in dollars and cents.”
Teal believes this documentary is especially relevant as the sand mining boom moves closer to this area.
“Anyone who cares about Waupaca County’s future should see this movie,” Teal said.
Sunday’s features continue with the Wisconsin documentary “Houdini” at 2 p.m., the feature film “Wingmen Incorporated” at 3:15 p.m. and the R-rated feature “Tilt” at 4:45 p.m.
Passes to all films and events at the Weyauwega International Film Festival are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Advance passes are available online at wegaarts.org or at the Book Cellar in Waupaca or The Coffee Klatsch in Weyauwega. Day passes are $12 and available at the door.
The screening of “Midnight Lace” on Thursday afternoon will be open to the public at no charge.