Green Bay Film Festival: The Highlights



This past weekend, I was a “V.I.P” at the Green Bay Film Festival due to the fact my father was giving two seminars during the span of the festival. I saw a little over a dozen films from all different parts of the world and some even made in the state. I laughed, cried and shifted uncomfortably in the seats. There were a few rough patches that should have been worked out a bit more, and if the festival continues an annual residency at the college, they should be ironed out for future audiences.

The venues were spread throughout Dudley Birder Hall, the Webb and Walter theaters and the Fort Howard Theater in the Bemis Center. Outside of these venues were concessions, and though the college prepared for much larger crowds, the foot traffic was less than expected during the weekend. The technical side ran smoothly for the films I saw, and if the film festival returns next year, perhaps the whole process of setting up the films will be easier on both staff and volunteers.

As for the films, some of the more notable productions took place in the set of dramatic shorts. One film was titled “Last Wishes” and followed the story of an elderly French couple in New Orleans being harassed by young men with criminal tendencies. The young men threaten the couple so they will be alibis whenever they do criminal activities. This is done by taunting the elderly man as he works on his garden. One night, after seeing a black wreath on the door to inform of a death in the family, the men sneak in and are greeted by an armed Mrs. Baptiste, who reveals her and her husband were involved in the French Resistance in WWII. She says her husband’s last wish was to teach the men a lesson, and she proceeds to shoot and kill them, making it look like she was only trying to defend herself. What was so heartbreaking is how in love she was with her husband, and she began to weep, clutching Mr. Baptiste’s gardening hat as she calls 911. I was impressed with the acting of the elderly couple, and the story itself moved many audience members to tears.

The next film that caught my attention and again made me have some waterworks was a Korean film titled “Sunflowers.” It follows the story of a young girl aspiring to be a makeup artist. She visits her grandmother in the hospital often and remarks on a beautiful vase of sunflowers someone has left her. She is looking for steady employment and ends up being roped into being a makeup artist for a funeral home. She claims it is only temporary work, but as she learns more about what it means for people to have their loved ones look beautiful as they take their journeys elsewhere, her heart softens and she tells her grandmother what she is doing. Her employer, a somewhat eccentric man, reveals he used to love a woman but never had the courage to ask her out. The girl goes to be a replacement makeup artist for a fashion show, but there she gets a call that her grandmother passed away. She ends up doing the makeup for her, asking her to find Grandpa as she journeys on to tell her mom and dad that she’s doing fine. She breaks down over her makeup kit, and here was another spot where audible sniffles were heard in the audience. Stories about love and death always seem to connect well with people, and it is later revealed the grandmother was the woman who the mortician loved and that he was the one who gave her the sunflowers.

Hopefully, if the Green Bay Film Festival continues its residency on campus, the technical issues will be ironed out and more publicity will be spread through the state. There were wonderful seminars, panels and films to entertain all ages. Getting more people to go and experience it would be the next step for this festival.


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