Beloit Int’l Film Festival marks 10th anniversary

Staff Report

The Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) and long-time sponsor, BMO Harris Bank, will unveil an entirely new look and format for BIFF’s 10th anniversary Silent Film Showcase.

The featured film will be the original 1925 version of “The Phantom of the Opera” starring Lon Chaney.

The presentation will take place in the Sanctuary at the Castle at 501 Prospect Street in Beloit, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The story of the phantom takes place at the Opera of Paris, where a mysterious specter threatens a famous lyric singer, Carlotta, thus forcing her to give up her role (Marguerite in Faust) for unknown Christine Daae.

Christine meets this phantom in the catacombs, where he lives. The make-up effects Chaney devised for the film led to his being characterized as “the man with a thousand faces.”

“As this is our 10th anniversary, I felt it was important to give our loyal Silent Film Showcase following something extra-special for 2015,” explained Rod Beaudoin, BIFF Executive Director.

“The Castle, with its magnificent pipe organ and late 19th century architecture and décor, made it a perfect compliment to the film. And the acoustics are impeccable.”

The film will be accompanied by renowned organist Bob Rub who will play the Castle’s Henry Pilcher & Sons vintage pipe organ. The accompaniment will include the original organ score with additional musical interludes composed by Maestro Robert Tomaro.

Periodically during the screening old will meet new when the accompaniment will briefly switch from organ to piano with Lanette Calhoun accompanying soprano Gaia Galvan and a baritone yet to be named as they perform selections from the 2004 Andrew Lloyd Webber version of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Other highlights of the evening will include the Rock River Philharmonic (RPP) silent auction, which each year raises important funds to support the Philharmonic.

The RRP, under the direction of Maestro Robert Tomaro, will provide its Chamber Orchestra to perform atmospheric selections during the reception and auction portions of the evening. The RRP will also provide the musicians who will accompany the film.

“We are thrilled with the exciting changes in the Silent Film Showcase this year,’ said Britney McKay, Outreach and Marketing Director of The Rock River Philharmonic.

“I truly believe that this will be one of the most memorable years yet with live musical accompaniment.”
The title sponsor for the event, BMO Harris Bank, has been supporting BIFF and the Silent Film Showcase since its inception 10 years ago.

“As a ten year sponsor of the Beloit International Film Festival, we are deeply committed to supporting events that further enhance the Stateline’s exposure to enriching fine and performing arts experiences,” said Bonnie Wetter, BMO Trust and Custody Services, BMO Harris Bank. “We anticipate another great selection of films for filmgoers to enjoy at BIFF, including the Silent Film Showcase, featuring “Phantom of the Opera.”

Tickets are $25 to the opening night event. For more information visit

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