Beloit International Film Fest awards scholarships

BELOIT, Wis.—This year, the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) awarded its first two Emerging Artist Scholarship grants to promising filmmakers.

The announcement of the scholarships to Milwaukee filmmaker Karen Lindholm-Rynkiewicz and to Los Angeles-based Bella Donna Films was made at the 2007 Biffy Awards ceremony, where nine films were also honored.

The Beloit Festival, now in its second year, has quickly been recognized as one of the major small festivals in the country. It has been called an alternative to Sundance by the New York Times, “an international event…the next big thing” by Movie Maker magazine and “downright audacious…gutsy” by the Wisconsin State Journal. More than 40 filmmakers were on hand for this year’s program, coming from as far away as South Korea and England.

“The BIFF Emerging Artist Scholarship Fund is an indication of BIFF’s seriousness about film and about keeping creative juices flowing in this exciting art form,” said Joanna Kutter, chairman of Cinema á la Carte, the fund-raising program that established the scholarships. “The fund is designed to assist artists with equipment and resources to complete projects and launch new undertakings. Occasionally, it may allow them to eat.”

The funds were raised at dinners hosted by BIFF supporters throughout the region over the past three months. In addition to the scholarships of $1,500 each, the festival has established an endowment to assure future scholarship funding.

Lindholm-Rynkiewicz is a teacher in Milwaukee who has demonstrated her dedication to the film art with several outstanding productions. Last year, her film about a Milwaukee donut shop won top honors at the first Beloit International Film Festival. This year, her latest short film, Grocery, a romantic musical fantasy inspired by the beauty of the produce section at her local natural food store, was selected for screening at the Beloit Festival.

Kutter said: “The Emerging Artist Scholarship Fund wishes to recognize the original vision she has offered to our daily experiences. We look forward to seeing much more from this Wisconsin filmmaker.”

Bella Donna Films is an independent production company created three years ago by Iris Almaraz and Rina Fernandez. The company has won eight awards at festivals around the world, including best director recognition for Almaraz.

Lindholm-Rynkiewicz and Almaraz were on hand to receive the awards.

From the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2007, issue

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