Secret funder behind Aug. 12-15 wINDIE City Shootout

A secret angel picking up the cost of the event and donating his own funds for the $28,000 prize money, all for the good of the local arts community, makes the Aug. 12-15 wINDIE City Shootout’s 72 Hour Film Race very intriguing, indeed. 

“Believe me, I understand this is a bit unorthodox,” says Matt Benepe, about the backer’s request for both anonymity and that the five event organizers serve as the face of the event.

Those faces belong to Benepe, a freelance editor/producer; director/DP Johnny Coughlin, owner of Quiet Island Productions; Alyssa Follansbee, who works in marketing and management; Jason Elewski, a freelance editor/DP, and 312 Element owner Mike Schacht, a photographer, web and graphic designer.

Matt Benepe is one of the 5 wINDIE City organizers.(The only hint given about the backer: He owns an established film company comprised of young filmmakers.) 

More than half the Shootout’s goal of 50 teams have signed up to date for next weekend’s film competition.  The race officially starts Friday at 8 p.m. at an offbeat but fitting venue, given the organizer’s mission of supporting the arts.

Thalia Hall, on 18th St. is located in Pilsen, a one-time tightly-knit Bohemian neighborhood dating back to the mid-to-late 19th century.  It was built more than 100 years ago as a replica of a Prague opera house to serve as the center for Bohemian culture, theatre and political activism.

Today, Italian restaurant Ristorante Al Teatro occupies the first floor and the restored theatre is on the second floor. 

Historic Thalia Hall was built as a cultural center in 1893Being Chicago-based, “with a community-focused grassroots mentality,” says Benepe, “makes us different from other similar weekend production races.  Those events tend to be national in origination, or international, like the recent July 29-31 48Hour Film Project, of which Chicago was one of 87 worldwide cities holding the film race on the same date.  

“We also try to make sure that the artists gain more opportunities to be seen, such as our handing out 5,000 DVDs of all the wINDIE City films to attendees at 2012 Sundance and Slamdance,” Benepe says.

$12,500 prize money to Audience and Critics Choice winners

Of the entire $28,000 in cash prizes donated entirely by the generous, unrevealed wINDIE City backer, $12,500 each will be awarded to the Critics Choice and Audience Choice winners. 

Second prize Critics Choice is $700 and third prize is $300.

Smart Phone and Web Award prizes are $1,000 each. 

All entries will be judged by a jury of film professionals and celebrity judges, and screened during the week of Aug. 22.  Winning films will be showcased Aug. 27 at a venue currently being determined.  

Deadline for team registration is Aug. 10.  Registration fee is $149.99. For details click here