The camera lights flash down the red carpet. Star-spotting microphones surrounded the swanky theater. It’s the big night—the premiere. Des Moines is not Los Angeles, but this weekend the city will play host to the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival.
The festival, in its eighth year, will be held at the eclectic Fleur Cinema and Café.
New to the festival this year will be a showcase of non-competing shows filmed in Iowa. Psychology students may recognize the plot of the Iowa-shot film, “The Experiment.” The film, featuring actors Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker, follows the line of 26 men in the infamous Stanford Experiment as they fall into the pretend roles of prisoners and guards.
Instead of paying $10 for a single movie that may be a disappointment, Wild Rose tickets vary from $20 on Friday (for 11 short films and one feature), to $40 on Saturday (for three short films, two features, one documentary, filmmakers panel, keynote speech and the final awards ceremony). Festivalgoers may also choose to catch an individual screening block, featuring multiple short films, for approximately $7. Additionally, beverages and snacks will be sold throughout the festival. There will also be an after party each night at locations not yet announced.
Students interested in film will want to check out the “College Student Short” category, featuring four different films on Thursday at 5 p.m. Sophomore Andie Nelson has a past in theater and a strong interest in films.
“It would be interesting to go see since it’s not publicized, big-name productions,” Nelson said. “I could see some Drake students doing something like this in the future.”
Other highlights will include the intertwining storylines of the documentary, “A Million Spokes.” The film, by Iowa-centered producer Ken Gorrell, follows the 2009 Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) and the story behind one of the oldest bike tours in the world. The recent review in the festival’s press release gave the film critical acclaim.
“This is a terrific ‘must see’ film – not just for avid cyclists – but also for anyone who wants an inspiring, funny and deeply touching insider’s view of one of the top global bicycle touring events!”
Emerging actors will have the opportunity to take a class with soap opera star, Ellen Dolan. The actress played the “As the World Turns” character “Margo” for over 20 years and will host an acting workshop, “Working in the Moment” on Saturday at 9 a.m. Cost for the class will be $45 at the door.
The festival is hosted annually by AriesWorks Entertainment, a local company that offers creative classes, film production and theater training. Former professional actress and current casting director Kimberly Busbee heads AriesWorks. She is also the main instructor for voice, comedy, improv, audition, screen and stage acting classes.
“As a filmmaker myself, I have a great admiration for the creativity and hard work behind independent films,” Busbee said. “My associate at the time, James Serpento, and I were co-founders of the Vaudeville Mews here in Des Moines, which served as a multi-arts space for theater, music, dance and film. We saw a need for independent filmmakers to have an international festival grown in an unexpected place that celebrates work that is unique, diverse and compelling.”
The festival is in good hands as Busbee has the professional experience and business sense to make the event go off each year with a bang. She has directed 14 of the production company’s plays, six films and helped to start up downtown music venue and bar, Vaudeville Mews. Filmgoers may have also caught her appearing in “The Blues Brothers,” 250 commercials as well as numerous radio and television shows.
She’s excited about the potential success of some of the films showing this weekend.
“This year we have Ben-Hur Sepehr’s very moving film about Nazi Germany ‘The Desperate,’ that just won top awards at two Los Angeles fests and is being considered by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture,” Busbee said.
Harry Potter doesn’t premiere until Nov. 19. Until then, get inspired by a unique set of films. Fall in love with new characters, laugh out loud, shed a few tears and catch the best of the best independent films premiering right here in Des Moines.