An Interview With Driftless Film Fest Organizer Eve Studnicka

14711262_1445043222187616_1322999225739337320_oThis Thursday, the historic Mineral Point Opera House welcomes the return of the Driftless Film Festival.

Much of the credit for the success of this annual event is due to the efforts and enthusiasm of Eve Studnicka.

Recently, we sat down with Eve for a quick interview.

HSB: Eve, thanks for all the work you’ve done getting ready for this year’s Driftless Film Festival. This is the seventh year of the festival right?

Eve: Thanks Lisa! Yep, this is our seventh year. It’s been incredible to watch this event grow into something that progresses the artistic landscape of this unique part of the world. I was born in Mineral Point, so I grew up around the generation of artists that established the amazing creative scene present in town now. But part of that upbringing meant being aware that there is a real need to build foundations for incoming young creatives and ensure that this place remains accessible and exciting for them in the way that it was for my parents and their friends. Recently, Driftless has introduced filmmaking workshops, evening entertainment, and more dynamic program elements – in addition to the networking opportunities and focus on regional filmmakers that have always made the festival a one-of-a-kind event. We’re always working to find ways to benefit young media artists, especially women and marginalized folks who may not have as many opportunities for creative support in the rural Midwest.

HSB: Tell us how the feature films and shorts programs are selected for the DFF?

Eve: We select all our films either through filmmaker submissions or through curated content from other festivals. Finding movies that will resonate with our audience – either because they were shot in the area or because they are unlike anything else you’d see on a small-town movie screen – is always a rewarding experience. The shorts in particular are a treat to work with because many of them are made by first-time filmmakers and students. Shorts have a different kind of flexibility and freedom because the distribution expectations aren’t as stringent, and the art of conveying emotion and story in such a short period of time requires immense skill. I have a lot of admiration for the vision and talent of all our 2016 filmmakers.

HSB: Are you featuring any Wisconsin-made films?

Church of Felons

Church of Felons

Eve: Yes! In addition to our Wisconsin Shorts Showcase, this year we’re super excited to present five exceptional features shot in Wisconsin. Our opening night film AMERICAN FABLE actually contains a dream sequence shot at House on the Rock. DIVIDED WE FALL and CHURCH OF FELONS address issues of the Occupy movement and the drug crisis in rural Wisconsin respectively.

The Seeker

The Seeker

THE SEEKER is an extended narrative music video set to the music of regional gem Cloud Cult, and THE SMART STUDIOS STORY recounts the wild story of Madison’s most beloved and influential recording studio (with a totally killer soundtrack to boot).

HSB: Is there a link to the full schedule?

Eve: Totally! You can check out all our films and purchase tickets at driftlessfilmfest.org/the-films.

HSB: I heard that in addition to the films there will be some late-night entertainment that weekend. Can you tell me a little more about what you have in store?

Eve: Due to popular demand, we’re bringing back our wildly popular Saturday night Tequila Point burlesque show. The Wisconsin Burlesque Association is putting together the event and we couldn’t be more delighted to be partnering with an organization that so actively supports body positivity, gender inclusivity, and creative empowerment through performance. Then, on opening night, the incredible Leslie Damaso and her passionate, innovative pianist Jason Kutz are performing live at Popolo Pizzeria, so fest guests will be able to indulge in exquisite wood-fired comfort food while they kick back and enjoy the entertainment. And on Friday night, the ‘Round Midnight Trio is tearing up Gray Dog Deli with some eclectic jazz melodies. As always, the centerpieces of the event are our film program and the iconic Mineral Point Opera House, but the festival has come to expand far beyond the screen. It’s about community and provoking dialogue and engaging with the regional landscape. More than anything, it’s about exploring one’s place in the world by taking a step away from everyday life. Whether audience members find that sense of wonder on the screen or on the streets of Mineral Point, we feel that we’ve done our job.

HSB: Thanks again for all you do to out this together. We’ll see you November 3rd.

Contributed by Lisa Hay

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