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Engaging films from around the region, country and world. Two historic theaters. Summertime in a lakeside west-central Wisconsin city.

Those are key elements of a new arts and tourism event coming to Menomonie, the Red Cedar Film Festival. The first festival will be held Wednesday, July 24, to Sunday, July 28, 2019.

University of Wisconsin-Stout and the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts are co-sponsoring the event, which will be held downtown.

Entries are open and will be accepted through Saturday, March 30, with an early bird registration deadline of Saturday, Dec. 29.

Venues will be the Mabel Tainter, the 1889 Victorian theater on Main Street, and the nearby Harvey Hall Theatre, built in 1916, on UW-Stout’s campus. Both are in the League of Historic American Theatres.

Films also will be shown at Wilson Park bandshell and other venues, to be determined, said UW-Stout Professor Peter Galante, festival founder and co-director. He also is director of UW-Stout’s new video production undergraduate program.

Galante was the producer, set designer and director of photography for “Vanita,” which earned two awards in 2017 at the Los Angeles Underground Film Festival.

He is excited to see the university and community host an event that he believes has great potential, given the collaborative nature of it and the location.

“The festival is modeled after successful organizations like the Milwaukee Film Festival and the Richard Harris Film Festival, with the intent of growing toward the (Utah) Sundance Film Festival, with its significant economic impact on a city smaller than Menomonie,” Galante said.

He envisions the festival being self-supporting by the third year.

Organizers hope the Red Cedar Film Festival will provide an economic boost to the city and region while also promoting UW-Stout, the latter through increased exposure to the university and programs. Revenue from the festival also could support UW-Stout scholarships and other initiatives, Galante said.

Festival organizers plan to give a presentation to the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation.

Executive Director Jeff McSweeney said the Mabel Tainter “in partnership with UW-Stout is thrilled to be a primary site for the inaugural Red Cedar Film Fest. This is the beginning of a great event that reflects the creativity and talent of UW-Stout students and those who are looking for a great launching point to share their vision,” he said.

The festival, with the motto Expanding the Art of Film, will have seven competition categories, including two for students:

  • Best narrative feature
  • Best documentary feature
  • Best narrative short
  • Best documentary short
  • Best Midwest roots
  • Best student feature
  • Best student short

Winners will receive the Copper Quill award, a cast metal replica of the traditional quill pen weathervane that sits atop UW-Stout’s Bowman Hall Clock Tower.

In addition to the video production major, UW-Stout students can study filmmaking via the digital cinema concentration in the entertainment design program.

Jurors will include UW-Stout faculty and staff, regional film experts and others.

The other festival co-director is Anna McCabe, of UW-Stout’s Professional Education Programs and Services, part of the Discovery Center. McCabe will oversee festival operations.

Festgoers will be able to purchase tickets to individual events, a Film Enthusiast pass or VIP pass, the latter which will include access to the filmmakers’ lounge and opening night gala. Tickets to the gala also will be sold separately.

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UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.

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