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UWFox Announces 2005 Campus Film Series

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Building on a tradition of bringing stimulating and entertaining films to the Fox Cities, the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley has announced the titles for its 2005 Film Series. The films are scheduled to be shown on the Monday evenings of April 11, April 18, and May 2, at 7:00 p.m. in Room #1229, located near the center of the campus. All films are free and open to the public. This year’s central theme is, “Film and the Midwest.” Each film session is expected to last approximately 90 minutes.

Dr. Donald MeckiffeDr. Donald Meckiffe (Assistant Professor of Communication Arts), who was instrumental in putting the Film Series together this year, said, “The primary drive of this Film Series, and the films selected, is twofold. First, all the films and subsequent discussions are designed to get the respective audiences to think in more detail about what might be characteristic about life in the Midwest, as represented in film and video.

“We’d like the audiences to ask themselves questions, like, ‘Does it matter that there is comparatively little about a Midwest-based tradition of film-making, as opposed to what we are familiar with seeing produced from the east and west coasts?’ ‘Is there a set of values and rhythm of life that is somewhat distinct from the usual Hollywood film fare?’ And, ‘How might these distinctions be represented in local films?’, Meckiffe summarized.

“The second consideration is that this Film Series and film selection is designed to build on these questions and act as encouragement for anyone to see the possibilities of making their own documentary or movie. For example, Chris Smith and Sarah Price (‘The Yes Men,’ showing April 11) got their start at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The WisKino group (whose works are showing on April 18) was founded on the idea of anybody just having a go at it. Steve Wetzel (‘Men’s Hockey,’ showing May 2) is a filmmaker based at UW-Milwaukee, which has a student body well represented by Fox Cities high school graduates and is a prime transfer school for UWFox students.”

This is the third year for the UWFox Film Series. Meckiffe sees the focus for the 2005 event as “a small part of the larger moves in the State of Wisconsin to provide venues for the showing of locally creative and personal productions.” He observed that, “This spirit is evidenced by the increased importance of the yearly Madison Film Festival, the now-three-year-old UW-Milwaukee film festival, and even the fledgling Wildwood Film Festival here in the Fox Cities.”

The UWFox 2005 Film Series begins April 11, with the showing of Smith and Price’s “The Yes Men.” According to Meckiffe, “They first came to be noticed when they directed and produced the acclaimed ‘American Movie,’ which tracked the amateur filmmaking fortunes of Mike Schank – who existed on the fringes of the film department at UW-Milwaukee. Schank is arguably now UW-M’s best know alumnus!”

Meckiffe provided a brief summary for each of the three films being show this year.

“ ‘The Yes Men’ is part of a recent spate of activist documentaries (‘Supersize Me,’ ‘Control Room,’) in the past couple of years. The ‘Yes Men’ is cross between ‘Jackass,’ ‘The Daily Show,’ and the Verite traditions of Robert Drew’s ‘Primary’. The film follows the pranks of Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum as they try to embarrass some of the players involved in the machinations of the World Trade Organization and Global commerce. Although ‘The Yes Men’ is not shot in Wisconsin, it is animated by the spirit of Smith’s and Price’s interest in the dogged blue-collar values of hardwork, persistence, fairness and ‘common sense’ that many filmmakers, including David Lynch, the Coen brothers, and Michael Moore see as characteristic elements of the mindset of America’s Midwest.” Meckiffe will be present to provide commentary and context about this film.

“On the 18th of April the film series will feature a visit and showing from three members of the amateur video collective, ‘WisKino,’ based in Madison,” Meckiffe explained. “The three-year-old group is mix of film students, media professionals, complete novices and even kids who hold regular competitions and showings of locally produced shorts in and around Madison. Christine Olsen, Justin Sprecher and Lucie Ferrari will bring a selection of the ‘best of the best’ shorts as they also discuss the motivations and opportunities for creative and personal local video production in Wisconsin based on their credo of, ‘Do well with nothing, do better with little, and do it right now.’ ”

“Closing the series will be a showing on May 2nd of multi-media artist Steve Wetzel’s ‘Men’s Hockey,’ a 1 hour documentary observation of a semi-pro ice hockey team based out of Rockford, Illinois,” Meckiffe said. “Absent of interviews and voiceover, ‘Men’s Hockey’ is formed through a meticulous reconstruction of a believable, palpable and conflicted social space inhabited by a variety of characters and roles including coach, player, audience, referee, mascot and arena maintenance.” Meckiffe points out that, “The video received its premiere at the Madison Film Festival in 2004 and Wetzel, who lectures documentary production at UW-Milwaukee and in Chicago, will be on hand that night to provide background on his movie and answer general questions about filmmaking and arts funding in Wisconsin/Midwest.”

For more information about the UWFox 2005 Film Festival, interested individuals can call Meckiffe at 920-832-2682 or email him at donald.meckiffee@uwc.edu. Free parking is available on the west side of the Menasha campus. Seating for the films is open and unreserved.

Posted 4/7/2005