Nicholas Langholff & Darren Burrows - Driftless Film Fest

Nicholas Langholff & Darren Burrows - Driftless Film Fest

Premiere date: May 18, 2012

Driftless Film Festival|The Driftless Film Festival was founded by film producer Nicholas Langholff, actor Darren Burrows, and theater chain manager Jeremy Patnaude, with the help of Tri-State Tourism and the Platteville Chamber of Commerce, to showcase independent films in beautiful venues, while enriching the community with face-to-face interaction with the filmmakers.

The festival is named for the Driftless Region in which it is set: an area that covers southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, and northwestern Illinois. This region was left unscathed during the last glacial period, creating a unique landscape of rolling hills, bluffs, and deep river valleys that are dotted with quaint, historic towns.

We hope that showing films in historic venues with enthusiastic audiences will make the Driftless Film Festival screenings a memorable experience for filmmakers and filmgoers alike.

This year is the festival’s Development Year, which is the first step to becoming a fully-funded film festival in 2011. Eventually the festival will have venues stretching from Viroqua, Wisconsin to Galena, Illinois and include educational outreach programs with the local high schools and universities.

Lovely By Surprise|In this stunning, offbeat film, an aspiring novelist tries to kill off her protagonist - on the advice of her ex-lover/professor - with real-world repercussions. Meanwhile, an unstable car salesman tries to cope with the death of his wife and the subsequent silent treatment of his young daughter. The two story lines dovetail in and out of each other’s orbit nicely, with the result a movie that’s at turns joyous and devastating.

Marian (Carrie Preston) has written a book that has little plot and no conflict, so her mentor (Auston Pendleton) suggests she create some by killing off a main character. But doing this triggers a whole mess of complications, not the least of which is that the character somehow cheats death and winds up in the same world as Marian, albeit wandering around in his tighty whities. Bob the car salesman (Reg Rogers) is gamely trying to keep his act together, as well as his job, while also trying to connect with his daughter Mimi (Lena Lamer), who has not spoken since her mother died.

Going into the plot in any more detail might give away key points that are best savored as they occur, so I’ll stop right there. Let’s talk about the cast. Preston is outstanding as the novice writer, desperately trying to write herself out of a corner. She wants very badly to succeed, but she’s hesitant about such an extreme solution. I thought Preston showed just the right combination of spunk, cleverness, and vulnerability. Her equal is Rogers as the not-all-there Bob. Rogers is so good, you’re not sure if he’s intentionally trying to be strange or is simply overacting. It’s the former - Bob’s own vulnerability is masked by a veneer of unfounded optimism, and his boss (Richard Masur), who’s given Bob many chances to succeed, is nearing the end of his rope. Bob’s problem is that he’s just not a conventional salesman; instead of selling cars, Bob tells his customers to go home and spend time with their families. He’s sort of an existential salesman, if anything, and Rogers is commanding and believable in a difficult role.

Oh, but that ain’t all. The supposed-to-be-killed-off protagonist, Humkin (Michael Chernus) is a man-child who has lived (in the unfinished book) with his arrested-development brother for years on a landlocked boat, subsisting on milk and cereal and speaking in curiously appealing, innocent speech. Humkin somehow makes it to the real world, where his affable personality serves him quite well. Again, just what Humkin does in the so-called real world isn’t something that should be revealed here.<


Nicholas Langholff|Nicholas Langholff is a film producer based in Madison, WI.  Nicholas has been making movies for the last ten years and now numbers more than 40 films to his credit, 17 as First Assistant Director and 11 as Producer, including El Cartel and the award-winning Madison. His credits also include dozens of national commercials and promotional spots for clients such as Sundance Channel, Nickelodeon, Bravo, Oxygen, and IFC. He has filmed on location in Sudan, Brazil, and Mexico, and spends much of his time working between NY and LA. Langholff now focuses exclusively on developing and producing independent feature films, with a unique expertise in shooting on location in Wisconsin.

Darren Burrows|Darren is best known for his portrayal of budding director Ed Chigliak on the hit series Northern Exposure from 1990-1995.  He has also appeared in numerous feature films by directors as diverse as John Waters to Steven Spielberg, and has made several guest appearances on shows such as X-Files and CSI.  Darren’s ties to Wisconsin began with the Milwaukee-made Lady in the Box.   He has since worked on several projects with Nick Langholff and Madison-based Natural Films.  Darren is currently developing Of Angels & Outlaws, a Western to be filmed in new Mexico later this year.


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