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Wisconsin Film Festival

Festival presentation: 

In its 13th year, the Wisconsin Film Festival (Madison, Wisconsin, USA | 30 March-3 April, 2011) presents a broad range of independent American and world cinema (feature, documentary, experimental, shorts), restorations and revivals, and locally made pictures from Wisconsin filmmakers. The festival plays in ten theaters, all within walking distance, in the heart of the state's capital city. The 2010 festival screened 192 films and had an attendance of 34,539 in five days. The full 2010 film guide, including work by Bong Joon-ho, Michel Gondry, Jan Hrebejk, Ken Loach, Mary Sweeney, Radu Jude, Liu Jiayin, Gianni Di Gregorio, James Marsh, Jessica Hausner, Henrik Ruben Ganz, Maren Ade, Xavier Dolan, Corneliu Porumboiu, Karen Shakhnazarov, Bradley Rust Gray, Sarah Watts, Lixin Fan, Michael Mann, Bert I. Gordon, George Kuchar, Sergio Leone, Ladislas Starewitch, Jules Dassin, John Frankenheimer, and Elia Kazan, is available here: <>

Festival Logo: 
African Films
American Films
Arabic Films
Art, Dance, Music
Art-house films
Asian Films
Black Culture Films
British Films
European Films
French Films
German Films
Horror films
Human Rights
Italian Films
Japanese Films
Jewish Films
Latin American Films
Religious films
Silent films
Spanish Films
Student films
Animated Films
Digital / DVD
Fiction Features
Short films
Student film
Festival Info
Last attendance: 
Next Festival Dates: 
03/30/2011 - 04/03/2011
Is the Festival open to the public ?: 
Does the Festival have a market?: 
Does the Festival have a competition ?: 
Festival Submission
Film submission fee: 
Film submission amount: 
$35 over 60 minutes | $25 under 60 minutes | $10 student
Submission accepted on 
Film call for entry start day: 
Film call for entry deadline: 
Festival Contact
Festival Director Name: 
Meg Hamel
Festival Director E-mail: 
E-mail for Webmaster: 

2011 Submission Guidelines

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

There are two categories*:

  • Open Reel (general submissions of any length, open worldwide)
    postmarked Wednesday, December 1, 2010 
  • Wisconsin’s Own (films of any length from filmmakers with “Wisconsin ties”)
    postmarked Wednesday, December 1, 2010 

*Films made by students are eligible in both categories. The Wisconsin Film Festival used to have a category for films by Wisconsin college students or Wisconsin residents attending college in another state: “Wisconsin Student Shorts.” Starting with the 2011 Festival, this has been simplified so that any film with a Wisconsin connection gets submitted into the single “Wisconsin’s Own” category. There is still a discounted entry fee ($10) and different deadline for student-made films. The selection process will also still evaluate student work separately
from non-student films.
 student deadline: postmarked Friday, December 31, 2010

Is this festival a good fit for my film?

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 a commitment to showcasing emerging talent. Another portion of the Festival comes from outside the submission process, films that are specifically selected to be part of the program (master directors, international festival hits, films that fit particular themes) and we work directly with distribution companies, sales agencies, and production teams around the world.

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.

The Festival presents quality work that may not otherwise be seen in commercial theaters, and motion pictures from 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. 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 major releases scouted from around the world, combined with smaller, under-the-radar works that illustrate a variety of filmmaking styles.

See last year’s complete film list for a sense of what makes up the Wisconsin Film Festival program. Some of the world-class filmmakers featured in 2010 were Bong Joon-ho, Michel Gondry, Jan Hrebejk, Ken Loach, Mary Sweeney, Radu Jude, Liu Jiayin, Gianni Di Gregorio, James Marsh, Jessica Hausner, Henrik Ruben Ganz, Maren Ade, Xavier Dolan, Corneliu Porumboiu, Karen Shakhnazarov, Bradley Rust Gray, Sarah Watts, Lixin Fan, Michael Mann, Bert I. Gordon, George Kuchar, Sergio Leone, Ladislas Starewitch, Jules Dassin, John Frankenheimer, and Elia Kazan.

How is the Wisconsin Film Festival different?

There are many festivals that share our interest in sustaining what’s good about motion pictures. This is not unique.

But we don’t do red carpets, gala events, or have VIP access to films. 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 of people from around Wisconsin. It’s not about celebrity culture or people paying high prices to get special access. Ticket prices are low and available to all. Attendance at the 12th Festival in 2010 was 34,539 over just five days, watching 192 films — that’s a remarkable attendance for a “small” festival.

If your film is selected, we’ll work hard to ensure that your film is always safely cared for, that your screening is promoted accurately and enthusiastically in the Festival program, that we build a good audience, and that the screening is on time with good picture and sound quality.

The theaters [see 2010 venues] are all legit auditoriums, ranging from 155 seats to 1500+. We don’t use make-shift screening locations in places not suited for film, like the back room of a restaurant or bar. Whenever possible, films are screened on 35mm, 16mm, or high-quality digital video. Theaters dedicated to video are equipped for the Festival with professional projectors and decks that show clear, bright images. The core tech staff have been a part of the Festival for years and include some members of IATSE Local 251. And all these theaters are close enough to easily walk between — just one mile from end to end. Wisconsin Film Festival is frequently described as having a relaxed, informal atmosphere, which is certainly true.

We watch everything that is submitted. We do not farm out the viewing of your submission to random volunteers. We do our best to write original descriptions of each film for the program guide [see 2010 guide], because the audience wants to know what we like about your movie.

Entry fees are $10 (student films); $25 (under 60 minutes); or $35 (60 minutes or longer). Because juggling multiple festival entries is complicated enough for filmmakers, there is a single deadline date for each category (no "early bird" or "last chance" tiers).

Festival Organization
Meg Hamel
1050 University Ave.
Zip code: 
United States
+1 877-963-3456
+1 608-262-6589


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About Wisconsin Film Festival

The Wisconsin Film Festival -- ten downtown Madison theaters, all within walking distance, presenting new independent American and world cinema (feature, documentary, experimental, shorts). Submission deadlines for 2011: 1-Dec-2010; or 31-Dec-2010 for student films.


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