Last week film buffs and filmmakers from around the world turned their focus to Palatine. The fourth annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (BWiFF) took over Palatine Park District's Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center from July 21st- 28th, screening over 40 films. This year the festival received a lot of press, both locally and nationally, being included in the running for Moviemaker Magazines "Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals"(results to be announced in October), and also was featured in the magazine's "Festival Friday Spotlight" series. The fourth year of the fest has been its biggest yet. Over the week, BWiFF had over 750 attendees. Filmmakers came from as far as LA, and as close as Palatine to participate in in-person Q&As. Filmmakers who were unable to make the trip answered judge and audience questions via Skype, projected on the big screen.
Highlights included the Blue Carpet Opening Night screening of "Save the Date". LA Director Michael Mohan, who received the festival's Independent Filmmaker Achievement Award and participated in an in-depth Q&A with Michael McNamara of ScreenMag and the Midwest Independent Film Festival. Audiences questioned filmmakers from Norway, France, Scotland and Canada. Saturday's Doc Day Afternoon gave attendees not only the chance to connect with filmmaker Jonathan Moeller, director of "The Funny Side of A Stroke", but also were able to meet the subject of the documentary, Ted Waltmire.
Sunday at the festival's Award's Brunch, Judges John Oak Dalton, Pete Guither, and Jared Winkler announced the winners of the festival awards, ranging from Best of Fest to Emerging Filmmaker. Winners include French film "Tu Seras Un Homme" (You'll Be a Man) for Best of Fest, Local film "Qwerty" for Audience Favorite, and Xan Aranda for Best Director of "Andrew Bird: Fever Year". The full Awards Presentation is available online on the festival's YouTube channel (youtube.com/bwifilmfest), or view the list on the festival's website (BWiFF.com). If you missed the festival, you still have a chance to experience the excitement. In addition to the video filmed at the awards, the festival will be releasing Q&A's and a number of exclusive interviews with filmmakers that attended in person or via Skype.
What is next for the fest? Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival inspires to continue its growth. In just a month, Tuesday, September 2nd, the festival will open its call for entries for the 2014 festival, on the festival submission database "Withoutabox". The 2013 festival brought in a near 400 submissions, and the festival expects over 500 for next year. Festival Director Michael Noens hopes to book in a bigger independent artist to perform at the festival's traditional music centerpiece, to draw a bigger crowd of indie artist fans. The festival, being so new, has been running under a small budget. Marketing Director Ashley Alysa France states, "I hope our success in this year's festival will encourage more sponsors to become involved. If we have more sponsors, we can offer more to our filmmakers, including assistance with flights, lodging, and cash rewards for winners."
If you missed the festival, and can't wait till next July to experience a taste of Blue Whiskey, then stop by Emmett's Ale House in Palatine (110 North Brockway Street) the first Wednesday of every month. Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival will be holding it's monthly Blue Whiskey Cinema Series, screening classic and independent films year round. The series kicks off next week, August 7th, with the hilarious indie comedy "Wet Hot American Summer". Tickets for these screenings are FREE, but seating is limited so be sure to reserve your seat before they're gone! This can be done at bluewhiskeycinema.com. Food and drinks are available for purchase, as well as Emmett's Wednesday special, $0.50 wings.