14th annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival April 14-23

‘Undivide Us’

The 14th Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (BWiFF) will be held at Classic Cinemas Elk Grove from April 14-23.

The festival will exhibit over 30 films from around the globe that will compete for a variety of awards that range in genre, production, performance, and audience categories. Each film selected for exhibition and competition will be screened in one theater over the course of seven days. Judges will experience each film for the first time along with the audience and moderate Q&A’s with attending filmmakers.

The 2024 shorts competition will consist of 27 films, including 21 narratives, 3 documentaries, and 3 music videos. The features competition will consist of 7 films, consisting of 4 narratives and 3 documentaries.

“We’re so happy to be working with the team at Classic Cinemas for our 14th annual festival,” said Operations Director Jonathan C. Legat. “Everyone there has been extremely helpful, friendly and supportive.”

The festival has been held annually in Chicago since 2017 at venues such as Music Box Theatre, The Foxhole Chicago and Chicago Filmmakers. This year is the first time the event has been held in the suburbs since 2016.

The festival’s first week will run April 14-17 and then return the second week from April 21-23. All screenings will take place in the evenings beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Classic Cinemas Elk Grove
1050 Elk Grove Town Center
Elk Grove Village, IL

Tickets for nightly sessions are available to purchase on the festival’s website at bwiff.com along with the complete schedule of films, along with synopses, images, and other details

Individual sessions are $15. It is recommended that tickets be ordered in advance because festival staff will be doing check-in only at the door. Those purchasing tickets at the door will need to order using their mobile device prior to getting checked-in.

Following the close of the festival, an awards ceremony will be presented by the judges in a virtual presentation on May 1. The awards will be available to stream through the festival’s website.

“As in years past, the programming team has once again assembled an excellent lineup of films that spotlight the character-driven stories that are at the heart of the festival’s mission,” said Lead Features Programmer J. Spencer Greene. “We’re excited to exhibit these great films to the community that they would otherwise likely not have the opportunity to see.”

The program has a lot of variety this year, according to Lead Shorts Programmer Bill Coulter. “We saw a lot more comedies this season than we usually receive and that was a real treat.” There are experimental shorts that find ways to tell clear stories and encourage discussion. You will also see narratives that explore fascinating characters, topical themes, and find natural comedy in more serious issues such as struggles with fertility and families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.

“There are 12 filmmakers confirmed to attend and participate in post-screening Q&A’s,” said Filmmaker Liaison Katherine Siegle. After each film is presented, one of the festival judges will moderate a short question and answer with any attending filmmakers. “They begin with a few questions of their own, which then gives the audience a chance to think about any questions they would like to ask.”

BWiFF prides itself on being a filmmaker’s festival with a more intimate screening environment. “We select auditoriums that are smaller on purpose to continue bridging the gap between the filmmaker and the audience,” said Executive Director Michael Noens. “Jon [Legat] likes to call the Q&A’s ‘fireside chats’ and he’s right-on with that. That’s what we want it to feel like for everyone in the theater.”

“It’s great to be able to bring the fest back to the suburbs where we originated,” remarked Legat. BWiFF had been held in Palatine for its first five seasons beginning in 2010. “You don’t get as many independent film screening opportunities outside of the big city, so this is great for the community.”