The inaugural Friends of Oshkosh Film Festival will be held Sept. 19-20 at The Roxy Supper Club in Oshkosh, featuring short films of several genres by local to international filmmakers.
The festival will feature 18 short-length films from 1-8 p.m., both days in genres such as black and white, experimental, drama, sci-fi and horror. Tickets are available as either blocks or full-day passes. Block passes contain two movies followed by a Q&A session with the film directors, and those are $5 each.
A full-day pass is $10. Along with the films, hourlong workshops will be offered: screenwriting on Saturday, led by festival organizer Cindy Mich; and acting on Sunday, led by her husband, Michael Gentile. A full list of times and films can be found on the festival’s website.
Mich said the workshops are for both individuals interested in starting off in the film business and those already working in the industry.
If someone does not have a full-day pass and would like to attend a workshop, those are also $5 each. Tickets are available for both in-person and virtual attendance on the website.
Mich is a journalist and filmmaker herself, and is running with a goal of creating a sense of community through the arts. “With all that is happening in the world, I aspire as a festival founder to help families stay active and in-tune with the arts,” the film festival’s mission statement said on its website. “Many have been at home and losing hope, and I wish to motivate so very many to move from their couches and get back into cinemas.”
Mich has organized two other similar but larger film festivals in New York, her main one being “Art is Alive,” featuring around 100 films, industry panels and a celebrity event. For all of the festivals though, Mich’s goal is to connect filmmakers and fans “to meet and merge minds,” according to the Art is Alive website.
The lifelong Milwaukee resident came across the city when her husband’s motorcycle licensing class in Neenah got canceled and ended up going to check out the local arts scene in downtown Oshkosh.
“We ended up walking into the Roxy Supper Club,” Mich said. “One of the waitresses and the bartender were like, ‘Oh my God, people are dying to do something in the city and we’re an artsy culture here downtown.’ She talked me into it.”
Mich said that she is using the Friends of Oshkosh Film Festival as a “testing platform” for what other kinds of arts events can be held in the area.
Mich said she hopes the acting screenwriting workshops will get people interested in getting more involved in the film industry.
“[The workshops] are to both engage and educate those who work in film, as well as others wanting to further or find their way into the industry, or just attendees who are curious about various elements of movie-making,” she said.
Participants can expect hands-on writing and acting lessons as well as tips for starting their careers in the film industry. Her main focus is to connect millennials and younger generations to get active, interested and
inspired by the arts.
“You get to learn about behind the scenes, all that stuff — it’s interesting,” Mich said. “You don’t get that when you go to Marcus theater, so I’m hoping to give them a live experience.”
Mich added that going to the movies is a universal activity that helps take people’s minds off things for a while.
“Everybody loves to go to the movies because then you don’t have to think about what’s going on in your life,” she said. “This is a huge escape from what’s going out in the real world right now, and it’s cheap. Not only that, it’s being orchestrated by someone who has been a judge and a founder for a long time.”