Driftless Film Festival

16 To Life

Writer/Director : Becky Smith

16 To Life, the first feature from Emmy-nominated writer/director Becky Smith (Queer Eye For The Straight Guy), puts a wry, witty and unpredictable ensemble cast in a small-town locale reminiscent of a Capra comedy. Often compared by critics to Sixteen Candles and Juno, 16 To Life is a romantic comedy centered around Kate, played by Hallee Hirsh (ER, You’ve Got Mail), a small town girl whose angst about her sexual inexperience fuels a comic quest for love and understanding on a birthday to end all birthdays—Kate’s turning Sweet 16 and she’s never been kissed. In pursuit of a kiss before the clock strikes midnight, she’ll learn more than most 16 year-old girls could imagine!

The film, whose cast includes Hirsh, veteran screen actress Theresa Russell (The Last Tycoon, Spiderman III), TV actress Mandy Musgrave (South of Nowwhere) and up-and- coming actor Shiloh Fernandez (United States of Tara, The Girl With the Red Riding Hood), has been
exciting festival audiences and has won multiple ‘Best of Festival’ awards across the country. 16 to Life delivers an intelligent, feel good, laugh-out- loud treat for anyone who’s ever gone in search of love.

The film was shot entirely on location in McGregor, Marquette and Stone City, Iowa and is slated for domestic and international theatrical release in the Fall of 2010.

American Movie

Director: Chris Smith

It takes a village to make a movie, but when that village is Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin and not Hollywood, CA, the results are at times bizarre, comical, and very American. With the help of his mother, his 82-year old uncle, and local cast of hilarious and lovable characters, filmmaker Mark Borchardt fights his way through internal and external roadblocks to achieve his goal-to make his movie, his way.

Mark’s vision for his dream film is unlike most in independent filmmaking today. His inspiration comes from films as disparate as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Seventh Seal, as well as his experiences growing up amidst the grey skies, rusty cars, and ranch houses of Milwaukee’s Northwest side.

AMERICAN MOVIE is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, AMERICAN MOVIE is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man’s quest for the American Dream.

Annabelle & Bear

Director: Amy S. Weber

Annabelle & Bear is the dramatic, tender story of a man who finds himself suddenly thrust into fatherhood, and the unexpected journey that leads him to discover the life-altering love found in the heart of his little girl.

There are moments in life that can change a person forever. For a biker named Bear, there have been too many of those moments. The moment his father died and he lost his best friend. The moment his mother married a family friend, just two months after the death of his father. The moment his longtime love Annie, chose drugs over her family. And the moment he realized he would never have the chance to be a father to his newborn daughter.

Our hero, Bear (Curt Massof), is an introverted and rebellious soul, tinkering with engines and emotionally disconnecting from everyone and everything, including his past. Until one day, that past shows up at his front door.


Writer/Director: Mary Sweeney

Set in bountiful rural Wisconsin, Baraboo follows six people who have each carved a life out at Petersen’s Cabins, a rundown motel/resort. Some are there by choice, others by circumstance. They circle one another with caution, desire, humor, anger, and compassion, inching their way toward understanding.

Ed Gein: The Musical

Director: Steve Russell

A musical/comedy/horror movie filmed in Wisconsin and is based on the notorious killer and grave robber from Plainfield, WI. Gein was arrested in 1957 and the horror of his crimes and the macabre uses of the dead prompted national and international coverage and outrage. He has been the subject of numerous books and films including, ”Psycho, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “Silence of The Lambs”, “Deranged”, “Motel Hell” etc.

Midwest micro-budget movie, “Ed Gein, The Musical” garnered national and international coverage with over 1000 articles written about it, including coverage in USA Today, The Financial Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Houston Chronicle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, St.Paul Pioneer Press, Chicago Daily Herald, The Onion, Chicago Reader etc. Also national TV coverage via the Fox News Channel. National radio coverage on NPR, WGN, & Sirius/XM. It was also written about and mentioned by Roger Ebert on his Twitter (ebertchicago @ twitter) and featured in Bizarre Magazine.

Blood Junkie

Director: Drew Rosas

Laura is supposed to babysit her little brother all weekend, but plans change when two studly high school graduates invited her and her best friend on a weekend adventure. Dragging her brother along, the five of them head to the woods for a killer camping trip. But the party of their lives is about to get cut short.

Blood Junkie is a 1980s-style horror comedy about a group of kids who discover a mysterious abandoned building where bad things happen. Shot in Wisconsin for $7000, Blood Junkie is a refreshing new vision in DIY independent filmmaking from first time feature filmmaker Drew Rosas. Bursting at the seams with bad ‘80s fashion, power synth anthems, and character clichés, Blood Junkie both embraces and pokes fun at the ‘80s horror film genre.

Lovely By Surprise

Writer/Director: Kirt Gunn

A truly unique and visually stunning take on meta-fiction, Lovely By Surprise follows the journey of novelist Marian Walker as she attempts to finish her first novel.

Facing the age-old problem of writer’s block, Marian seeks advice from a mentor and ex-lover. His seemingly innocent advice to kill the book’s protagonist unleashes chaos in her life as a willful protagonist escapes from her novel and appears in the unresolved corners of her past.

Featuring Carrie Preston (Transamerica, Nothing is Private, Lost, Arrested Development), Dallas Roberts (Walk The Line, A Home At The End Of The World, The Notorious Bette Page, The L Word), Austin Pendleton (Catch 22, What’s Up Doc, A Beautiful Mind, Amistad, My Cousin Vinny, The Muppet Movie), Kate Burton (Grey’s Anatomy, The West Wing, Woody Allen’s Celebrity, The Ice Storm), Reg Rogers (Igby Goes Down, I Shot Andy Warhol, Analyze That, Primal Fear), Richard Masur (Risky Business, Heaven’s Gate, Palindromes, Wonder Years, Picket Fences), Michael Chernus, and Lena Lamer, a wonderful New York ensemble cast shines in this experimental work.

At turns funny, lyrical, dark and mysterious, this enigmatic film explores past and present, art and reality, life and death, ultimately revealing the strength and beauty of the human heart.


Writer/Director: Brent Notbohm

Michael is an acclaimed war correspondent who has just returned from Iraq after four difficult years. Emotionally scarred from this experience, Michael travels to Madison in search of the youthful idealism he had as a young college student at the University of Wisconsin. During his visit Michael looks up his best friend from college, Ben, who maintains a positive outlook on life in spite of the recent death of his wife. Ben’s perspective is largely due to his precocious eight-year-old daughter, Maddy, who forges a unique bond with Michael, eventually leading to the journalist’s cathartic emotional solace.

Mark My Words

Writer/Director: Brad Pruitt

Having spent parts of his youth in Milwaukee, Film Wisconsin founding board member Brad Pruitt returns to his erstwhile hometown with Mark My Words, a documentary that focuses on 24 hours in the lives of nine local spoken word poets. With this project, the Emmy-winning Pruitt seeks to reveal the transformative power of words for individuals and communities at large. Showcasing the celebratory and powerful performance of local poetry and music, the film gives audiences intimate access into the poets’ thoughts and the passions and struggles that inspire their stirring compositions. “This is Milwaukee …out of the box, out of the comfort zone, and most importantly out in the open. Feel the power of emotion as each artist takes you through a cascade of words that will drown you in emotion.”- Milwaukee Community Journal Written


Writer/Director: Kate Lindboe

Shot entirely on location in Central Wisconsin, NONAMES focuses on the experiences of a group of friends growing up together while painting a subtle picture of the small town life. In a town with two bars, a cemetery, and a mill closing its doors, people are forced to find their way in a town struggling to survive. Showcasing performances with up and coming actors James Badge Dale (HBO’s The Pacific and AMC’s Rubicon) and Gillian Jacobs (NBC’s Community), introducing a talented ensemble cast and featuring a poignant supporting performance by veteran actor, Barry Corbin, NONAMES is a beautiful coming of age drama about family, friends and the definition of home.

NONAMES recently screened at 8 film festivals and received numerous award nominations, as well as winning Best Director, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Over All Actor – Gillian Jacobs, at the Phoenix Film Festival. NONAMES has been playing to sold-out audiences at the Wisconsin Film Festival and venues throughout the state.

Phasma Ex Machina

Writer/Director: Matt Osterman

What would you do to bring someone back? How far would you go?

Phasma Ex Machina explores the grey area between life and death and how science may be the bridge between the two. A young man named Cody, tasked with raising his younger brother James after the death of their parents, plunges himself into the murky science of the supernatural. Ignoring his responsibilities as a caretaker, Cody invents a machine he intends to be a conduit to the other side. In his pursuit to build the device he befriends an affable electrical engineer named Tom who has his own tale of love and loss. Cody eventually reaches an unintended level of success that not only threatens his safety, but also the well-being of James and Tom. He quickly learns that the supernatural isn’t all that super and human nature can even be worse.


Writer/Director: Eric Williams

Follows the memorable adventures of Brad Williams, dubbed “the human Google” by Good Morning America, only the second person ever studied for an extremely detailed autobiographical memory for events both global and personal, monumental and trivial. Give Brad a date within his lifetime and he can tell you the day of the week, the major news of the day, even what was on TV and what he ate.

Screenwriter/filmmaker Eric Williams follows his brother Brad’s journey through one eventful year, as media coverage of his rare mental gifts makes Brad an unlikely celebrity, vaulting him from small-town anonymity to sudden midlife notoriety.

Witches’ Night

Writer/Director: Paul Traynor

Halloween weekend. A humiliated Jim (The Grudge 3, NBC’s “E”) is left standing at the altar, so his friends whisk him away to the middle of nowhere. Enough beer makes a spur-of-the moment canoe trip seem like a good idea–and they can’t believe their luck–they meet four hot women tending a bonfire on the banks of a wild river. But their excitement turns to dread when they realize the women have deadly plans for them. It’s a race for survival as Jim tries to save his friends from being turned into grisly human sacrifices on Witches’ Night.

Boys will be boys, and girls will be hideous Satanic murderers in Witches’ Night. This throwback to the horror classics of the 70′s is funny, sexy, and scary– a good, old-fashioned adventure tale full of booze, babes, bodies, and blood. Featuring Betsy Baker from Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD. Filmed on location in Spring Green, Lone Rock, and Dodgeville, Wisconsin.