All posts by Taylor Fogarty

“The Shape of Water” Takes Best Picture at the Oscars

The 90th annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, was hosted by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on March 4.

This year featured a wide range of genres such as horror, science fiction, drama and war films in the award nominations, especially in the Best Picture category.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” promotional photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight
: “The Shape of Water” promotional photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
“Get Out” promotional photo courtesy of Universal Studios

There were nine nominees for the category, many of which feature the work of well-known directors such as Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg.

There were also little-known and first time feature film directors such as Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig represented in nominated films.

Film critics, such as those writing for “Forbes” and “The New Yorker”, projected the most likely Best Picture winners were del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Both films have won awards in other competitions such as the Producers’ Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.

Lindsey Brezinski , a film studies student at Winona State University, said, “Ultimately, based on the results of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, I was expecting “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” to win Best Picture.”

In the end, “The Shape of Water” took the Oscar.

“I was ecstatic when “The Shape of Water” won,“ Brezinski said. “I personally loved the film and it was nice to see something I wasn’t expecting win the award. It’s a big win for science fiction films as well!”

“Lady Bird” promotional photo courtesy of InterActiveCorp
“Dunkirk” promotional photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
“Darkest Hour” promotional photo courtesy of Focus Features

To film studies students, The Oscars are considered the most prestigious film awards.

Being nominated by and voted on by professionals in each category, with some exceptions, such as Best Picture, which all members of the Academy vote.

“The Oscars are important,” Brezinski said, “because they bring films that may have not been seen by a wide audience into the spotlight and allow people to step out of the big-bucks studio blockbuster bubble they typically live in.”

“The Post” promotional photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
“Call Me By Your Name” promotional photo courtesy of Frenesy Film
“Phantom Thread” promotional photo courtesy of Focus Features

Jake Nielsen, another WSU film studies student said, “It’s the biggest night of the year for movies. A lot of emphasis and prestige is added to the films that win Best Picture.”

There are things that upset film fans about the Oscars.

“There is also a lot of dumb upsets that happen that are predictable because of how The Academy tends to vote,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen expressed disappointment that many low-budget independent films of great quality are ignored for the big-budget studio films.

Seth Lamey, a film student at WSU, said, “I think it is tough for cinephiles [those who study film] because on one hand they want to celebrate the year of film,but on the other side there is a lot more depth to the cinematic year that isn’t even being talked about.”

The Rivoli Theater in La Cross, Wisconsin
The Rivoli Theater in La Cross, Wisconsin

The Rivoli Theater in La Crosse is one of the few theaters that provides movie-goers access to many indie films that most theaters, such as the Winona 7, don’t.

Both theaters emphasized the Best Picture nominees by showing them before and after the Oscars so audiences could watch them on the big screen.

The Rivoil Theater serves alcoholic beverages and pizza as well as other movie snacks.

Frozen River Film Festival Concludes 13th Season

In the frigid winters of Minnesota, a popular way to escape the freezing temperatures of the North is watching movies.

And Winona has its own film festival to do just that.

The Frozen River Film Festival is a documentary film festival held annually in Winona Minnesota.

The festival recently concluded its 13th season, drawing in about 3,000 attendees.

Frozen River included five days of events, Feb. 7 to Feb. 11, on the last day an award ceremony honored some of the most popular films.

Each year, the festival features documentary films whose subjects focus on local, regional and world importance.

Producer Karolo Aparicio answers questions about the film “Keepers of the Future.”

Festival director Sara Enzenauer said. “Planning for the festival is a year-long process. A lot of the heavy lifting takes place a few months before the actual dates, but there is a lot we are trying to do in the offseason.”

This year is Enzenauer’s first as festival director.

She started as an intern while sew was a Winona State University student, with a film minor, working her way up from intern to director.

Along with offering a wide array of films for moviegoers to watch, the festival included live music, artisan foods, and a vendor fair.

The atrium of the Science Laboratory Center at Winona State University where Frozen River attendees gathered.

Attendees had a choice of 70 films to attend in different venues across town including Winona 7 theatre, Winona State University, St. Mary’s University and Island City Brewing Company.

One patron,  Craig Thompson, said he has been attending since the festival started in 2005.

Thompson said he thought one of the best things about coming to the festival was learning about the variety of topics and issues the films covered.

Frozen River Film Festival is a nonprofit organization that uses donations and fundraising to pay for the films, guest lodgings, and venues.

According to Enzenauer, the budget for this year’s festival was $116,000.

“Our fiscal year starts in May and ends in Aril, “Enzenauer said, “so a lot of our spending takes place on promised funds, or what we think we are going to make in tickets. It’s a very interesting balancing act!”

In, Enzenauer’s first year as festival director was a success.

“We are all really pleased with how the festival went,” Enzenauer said. “I was worried that the numbers would drop quite a bit since it was a big transition year, but we were able to keep things pretty steady”.

Malinda Schmiechen, a regular patron of Frozen River, recalled how some films she has watched at the festival have changed her life.

“One year the theme was garbage,”Schmiechen said. There was a film about recycling that changed my life,” Schmiechen said.

One of the complaints heard at the festival was that it was impossible to see every film and that audiences had to pick which to attend.

Overall, the festival holds a sense of education and community to many of the patrons.

“I like to be challenged and learn about things,” Schmiechen said.

Enzenauer said Frozen River Film Festival takes all year to plan, so just days after this year’s festival has ended, she and the festival committee are already beginning to plan for Frozen River 2019.

“It was a little bare bones this year, and there is room for a lot of improvement,” said Enzenauer.

The festival committee plans to work more on their consistency, organization and communication for next year.

Winona State Celebrates Frankenstein Anniversary

Exactly 200 years ago, in 1818, Mary Shelly’s iconic Promethean creature was brought to life when her novel was first published.

In celebration of the 200 anniversary of “Frankenstein” being published, Winona State University is hosting a variety of events throughout January and February.

The events began Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. in WSU’s Science Laboratory Center atrium with a live reading of the entire 1818 edition of the novel.

The nearly eight-hour event hosted a constant influx of audience members, ranging from none to double digits at different times.

According to Dunbar, althogether there were an estimated 75 to 100 attendees.

The live reading was the brainchild of Ann-Marie Dunbar, an associate professor of the English department and director of the events.

“The bicentenary of Frankenstein’s publication gives us a great opportunity to celebrate one of the most original and fascinating novels written in English,” Dunbar said. “A novel that is just as relevant today as it was in 1818.”

The reading featured most of the University’s English department faculty, including Paul Johnson, an English and Film Studies professor.

Paul Johnson, WSU’s Film Studies director reads From Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” in character.

Johnson performed the first few chapters of volume two with enthusiasm, creating voices for the characters, making the event that much more noticeable for the students passing through the atrium, many of whom stopped for a moment to listen.

Johnson is the planner of the film series that is a part of the “Frankenstein celebration” at WSU.

The film series began off on Monday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Miller Auditorium at WSU with a double feature of the 1931 film “Frankenstein” and it’s 1935 sequel “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

Robert Pack, WSU Film Studies student, hosts a showing of the film “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

“For those of us who love the novel and love the tale and love Mary Shelly’s composition of it,” Johnson said, “simply being able to bring that to life for a day is a really rich source of enjoyment for us.”

The film series is the most expensive of the events, costing between $1,600 -$1,800 for public performance rights according to Johnson.

According to Dunbar, the English, Art, Mass Communication, and the University Theme committee are all sponsors working for and donating to the project.

The double feature began with an audience of about 75, most of which were students attending for class.

After an intermission between the films the audience decreased to about 25.

Audience waits for the double feature of “Frankenstein” and “The Bride of Frankenstein” to begin at WSU

Brittney Bluhm, an English and Film student at the university attended both features having read the book recently but never seeing the films.

Bluhm said that she liked the venue, but especially enjoyed watching the films together.

“I think that we could have had the five-minute intermission quicker. It was more like a 10 to 15-minute intermission,” Bluhm said.

Zachary Zaboj, an independent studies student who attended for class said he was surprised at how much was changed from the book to the films.

Johnson said he thought the first few events went well, the audience sizes being more than satisfactory.

Frankenfest will continued Feb. 19 with the next film in the series, “Young Frankenstein,” at 7 p.m. in WSU’s Miller Auditorium.