Madison movie buffs, get ready to make some choices. The schedule for this year's Wisconsin Film Festival is out, and it is, as always, a lot to digest. The schedule is available in Thursday's Isthmus and at the festival web site.
The festival runs for five days, April 14-18 (it expands to Wednesday this year), and there are 192 films in 140 screening events at eight venues. Hot tickets are bound to include The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, nominated for an Oscar this year, and Mary Sweeney's Baraboo, about life at a motel in rural Wisconsin. Sweeney is the ex-wife of director David Lynch, with whom she has in the past collaborated as screenwriter and editor. Also worth seeking out: the acclaimed Romanian film Police, Adjective, about a reluctant cop.
Numerous filmmakers and special guests will be on hand at events. Among them is New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, who will speak at a screening of Michael Mann's Collateral.
As before, there are series, including one focusing on the South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho. His film Mother is the final film screening at the Orpheum Sunday night, which makes it something like the festival's closing film, though there is no official closing film. Other series look at films from South Asia and Brazil, and one is called Generations: Asian American Cinema. There is a collection of African films, which have been underrepresented at the festival, as festival director Meg Hamel noted last year. A Restorations & Revivals series includes Sergio Leone's 1971 Duck, You Sucker! and the 1983 PBS documentary Seventeen.
The most substantial series is Wisconsin's Own, which gathers more than 50 films with Dairyland connections. Baraboo is one, and so are numerous shorts, and so are documentaries about subjects including compulsive kayakers (Paddle to Seattle), a compulsive runner (Feat: 63 Marathons in 63 Days) and Dr. Evermore's Forevertron (Scrap).
And, well, there's just a whole lot of films from a whole lot of places: Thailand (Agrarian Utopia), New Zealand (The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls), Argentina (the remarkable, 245-minute long Historias Extraordinarias). There's a Ken Loach film, Looking for Eric. There's a documentary about Rahm Emanuel, Housequake. There are a great many others. In the coming days, you will absorb this schedule. So will I.
Tickets are for sale starting Saturday, March 20 at the festival box office (Annex Room, UW Memorial Union) and online. Tickets cost $7 ($4 for students) for up to four, or as little as $5.25 apiece ($3.25 for students) for purchases of 13 or more. So if you're one of those people who likes to watch 13 or more WFF films in four days, and you know who you are, you can save some money.