Red Cedar Film Festival Launches With 30 Indie Films

Lauren Fisher

SCREEN TIME. Among the films that will be part of the inaugural Red Cedar Film Festival later this month in Menomonie are several that address the Midwestern experience, including Decoding the Driftless and Knee High.
SCREEN TIME. Among the films that will be part of the inaugural Red Cedar Film Festival later this month in Menomonie are several that address the Midwestern experience, including Decoding the Driftless and Knee High.

Movie lovers will flock to Menomonie in July to enjoy fresh films on the big screen at the historic Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, or under the stars in Wilson Park, as part of the inaugural Red Cedar Film Festival. Out of nearly 70 entries, festival visionary and UW-Stout film professor Peter Galante and a crew of adjudicators selected 30 works for screening. The festival will run July 24-28 and will feature 26 shorts and four full-length features.

Anna McCabe and Rebecca Thacker, who work with the UW-Stout Discovery Center, partnered with Galante to organize the festival. 

“He would love this to be even just a fraction of what Sundance festival is in Park City, Utah, which is half of the size of Menomonie,” McCabe said.

McCabe and Thacker tease a diverse range of features. Selected films range from psychological thrillers about targeted journalists and sweet romances to feminist victories and emotional explorations.

“I think it’s really cool to see the filmmakers so excited about their films being screened.” – Anna McCabe, one of the organizers of the Red Cedar Film Festival 

Saturday night will be dedicated to the festival’s regional representatives: a trio of films about the Midwestern experience. Knee High kicks off the session with a story about an Iowa resident struggling to take over his family’s farm while learning how to parent his son. Hiraeth, a tale of nostalgia and losing the places of your past, follows. The night will close with Decoding the Driftless, a documentary about the landscapes, archaeology, geology, and more of the famous Wisconsin region, will close out the night.

These three short films will be shown outdoors at Wilson Park. Guests will be able to bring their own snacks and beverages to the event, or grab a bite at one of a selection of food trucks.

“I think it’s really cool to see the filmmakers so excited about their films being screened,” McCabe said. Filmmakers are traveling from as far as California to participate in the festival, and the films themselves hail from all over the world.

This lends a great opportunity for area film enthusiasts and filmmakers to network throughout the event. Galante pushed to invest in these connections through the organization of an introductory gala the first night of the festival. Exclusive to VIP ticketholders and filmmakers, this somewhat fancy event will take place Wednesday evening at Brewery Nønic (621 Fourth St. W., Menomonie).

The festival will also feature several craft talks by filmmakers and festival organizers. Former UW-Stout film professor and current California-based filmmaker Kevin Pontuti and Flyway Film Festival organizer Rick Vaicius will be among the presenters.

“A lot of the younger generations look at YouTube and they want to make their own films, and that’s essentially what these filmmakers are doing,” Thacker said. She says the festival will be a great way for people to experience films they might not otherwise see.

Although McCabe and Thacker didn’t know what to expect when embarking on this project, the film entries exceeded their expectations and the planning has come together. “It’s been a really great learning experience,” McCabe said.

More information about the Red Cedar Film Festival is available online at redcedarfilm.org. The final schedule will be released mid-July. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through the website. Single screenings, day passes, and VIP passes are available at student and general public rates.

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