Supporting “Wisconsin’s Own” cinema in the wake of COVID-19

Don’t miss out on the talented microbudget and locally connected filmmakers included in the canceled 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival.

Image: Maya Castronovo’s “Prom Night.”

Cinephiles who were anticipating the 22nd annual Wisconsin Film Festival this year, scheduled to run from April 2 through 9, will unfortunately miss out on the chance to see a plethora of work from Wisconsin (and many other independent) filmmakers on the big screen with an audience. With nearly all traditional communal viewing spaces now closed for at least the next couple months due to the concern over transmission of COVID-19 (including the festival’s host and sponsor, AMC Madison 6), it may be difficult to know what to seek out at home beyond one’s own familiar library of physical media and the standard streaming avenues of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. There are, of course, more carefully curated options out there like The Criterion Channel, MUBI, Fandor, OVID, and Kanopy, but even those do not offer opportunities to view the work of smaller indie directors—at least, not on the level of our homegrown film festival.

A sponsor display for The Sessions at McPike Park.

To try and compensate for a dearth of locally-focused streaming film options, I’ve to put together a list of films and filmmakers who were featured in this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival, which include several returning visionaries whose films are available to view in their entirety through free sites like Vimeo, YouTube, and FilmFreeway. While their latest work may not be available to view in full online in many cases, there are still other shorts, trailers, excerpts, and information about significant projects in the recent past. Furthermore, I’ve provided links to our prior reviews and interviews on Tone Madison where applicable.

For additional updates about the Wisconsin Film Festival’s efforts to re-program at least some of this year’s films at a later date, keep an eye on their social media, particularly Facebook. ( Update, as of March 31: The Wisconsin Film Festival announced a “Stay At Home With ‘Wisconsin’s Own’” initiative. Beginning April 2, they will be premiering one short film from the 2020 festival at 12 noon per day via their YouTube channel. Each short will be available to view for 24 hours. )

In the meantime, if any filmmakers are comfortable providing more direct contact and mobile payment information, or, if there are any filmmakers I’ve neglected, this list will be updated with the relevant details so readers can lend financial aid in addition to moral support—an extension of various cities’ establishing a virtual tip jar. Please feel free to reach out to me with suggestions and anything else I’ve missed.

For even more advice in terms of a support network for independent filmmakers, please consult Oakley Anderson-Moore’s No Film School article.

Staring At Socks (dir. Claire Read), from this year’s festival

Read’s short film was to have its North American premiere in the “Generation Now” shorts program.

Chet Speedstar (dir. Miles Kietzer), from this year’s festival

This film was scheduled for its world premiere in the “Generation Now” shorts program.

Sabbatical (dir. Brandon Colvin), from Wisconsin Film Festival 2014

Colvin’s newest feature film, A Dim Valley, was scheduled to screen this year.

Great Light (dir. Tony Oswald), a Golden Badger-winner from Wisconsin Film Festival 2018

Oswald and his creative partner Pisie Hoccheim’s short, Handheld, was part of “All In The Family” shorts program this year.

Mommy Moments (dir. Nora Stone), from Micro-Wave Cinema Series 2018

Stone’s latest, Dear Esther, was included in the “First Person, Singular” shorts program this year.

Emir Cakaroz on his Riverwest Film And Video documentary, from Wisconsin Film Festival 2018 (interview by Reid Kurkerewicz)

Cakaroz directed Dad’s Apple, which was part of the “All In The Family” shorts program this year.

Los Lecheros (dir. Jim Cricchi), from Wisconsin Film Festival 2018

Cricchi’s feature-length Can You Hear Us Now? was set to have its Midwest premiere at this year’s fest.

James Runde on his featurette, Played Out, from Wisconsin Film Festival 2019 (interview by Grant Phipps)

Runde’s Catholic Boy was part of “First Person, Singular” shorts program this year, where it would’ve had its world premiere.


Additionally, Runde’s 2016 short film White And Lazy is available in full.

Prom Night (dir. Maya Castronovo), made as part of the Verona Area High School 48-Hour Film Fest

Also available: the “Wes Anderson-inspired” Strawberry Afternoons.

Castronovo directed Mother’s Love, which was included in the “All In The Family” program this year.

Old Rook (cinematographer Madeline Bishop), from Wisconsin Film Festival 2019

We previewed the film ahead of the 2019 festival.

Co-star/co-creator Shahin Izadi also co-directed Legal Alien this year in the “First Person, Singular” program.

The Emptiness (Die Leere) (dir. Anders Nienstaedt), from Wisconsin Film Festival 2019

We previewed the film ahead of the 2019 festival.

Nienstaedt’s Salvation was to have its world premiere in this year’s “First Person, Singular” program.

The Mystery Of Now (dir. Audrey Buchanan), a Golden Badger-winner from this year’s festival

The short film was the centerpiece of “Generation Now” program.

Visit Buchanan’s website

Garden City Beautiful (dir. Ben Balcom), from this year’s festival

The film was included in the “First Person, Singular” shorts program.

Cinema Sol, alias of Melissa Godoy

Godoy’s latest documentary, Determined, was scheduled to screen this year.

Black Earth (dir. Riley Sweeney Lynch), from this year’s festival

Lynch’s latest, The Farm, was set for a world premiere at the fest as part of the “Generation Now” shorts program.

Lonely Bologna (dir. Casey Long), starring our own Hanna Kohn!, from 2016

Long directed Basic Economy, part of the “First Person, Singular” program.

Fort Irwin (dir. Quinn Else), from this year’s festival

The short was to precede the Blood Quantum feature.

Else’s Vimeo page hosts a few other samples of Else’s work, including a surreal snapshot of Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico.

A filmography of Jeri Griffith

Griffith directed Hunting Arrowheads With My Father, included in the “All In The Family” shorts program.

Cinematography reels from Jackson Jarvis Eagan

Eagan made Neptune in this year’s “All In The Family” shorts program.

Closed Circuit (dir. Lauren Morrison), from this year’s festival

This computer-animated short was to precede the Fritzi: A Revolutionary Tale feature.

The Rabbi Goes West (dirs. Gerald Peary and Amy Geller), from this year’s festival

Peary and Geller also worked on the documentary For The Love Of Movies: The Story Of American Film Criticism. More information available here.

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