Marching back to Green Lake

The Freeland Film Festival’s Opening Night Film will be “Children of Bal Ashram,” with filmmaker Leonard Morris attending. Morris has been an advocate for children before Congress and internationally. Morris will be available for questions from the audience once the film ends. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

Parked cars line the streets as a sea of people wander from Town Square to the Thrasher Opera House to the American Legion to the Caestecker Public Library.

There must be another film festival in Green Lake.

The Freeland Film Festival will bring back stories to inspire to Green Lake Friday, Sept. 13 to Sunday, Sept. 15 with the goal of raising awareness for social issues such as conservation, ecosystems, animal trafficking, human trafficking and the environment.

The festival aims to achieve its goal through films, panels, music, workshops and more.

According to event coordinator Evelyn Galster, the festival brought between 700 to 1,000 people to the area last year.

To increase turnout this year, Galster has made a bigger push to market the festival in the area and beyond.

“It is a full-time job,” Galster said of her marketing efforts. “We have some really incredible people coming and it would be a shame if we didn’t get a good audience because you know, it’s not every day you get these folks here.”

Some of the big names coming for the festival include actress Jane Seymour, feature-film director Mike Mitchell, federal judge Virginia Kendall and  former Congresswoman Claudine Schneider, just to name a few.

Freeland has employed a festival producer to help organize the event. Dawn Borchardt, who previously has worked for both Sundance and Milwaukee Film Festivals, has come on in that role.

“This festival is the biggest one that I put together in the sense that I have my hand in every department because it’s mainly me and Evelyn working on it together,” Borchardt said.

Borchardt noted Freeland’s socially conscious mission sets it apart from other festivals she’s been a part of.

“We’re not just showing, independent films in general, we’re sharing stories that inspire focusing on animal and human trafficking, environmental issues and indigenous issues,” She said. “And I really care about all those issues, which is why I’m involved in this festival.”

The festival is set to kick off Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Thrasher with a showing of “Children of Bal Ashram.”

Filmmaker Leonard Morris will be in attendance and will take questions after the film.

At Bal Ashram, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and his wife, Sumedha, provide a home and family for boys rescued from child labor.

The boys’ education at Bal Ashram is more than academic; they learn their rights and they learn to assert their humanity

The film will be proceeded by two short films.

The first is “MOYANG – inside each of us is an Indigenous Heart,” which takes viewers into the heart of the Malaysian jungles.

The second is “Protecting the Tichora Conservancy,” which outlines the work done by the Green Lake Conservancy and Green Lake Sanitary District to restore the area to its natural state.

After the films, patrons may walk over to Town Square for an opening night after party. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10.

The second day’s festivities begin with a guided tour of Mitchell Glen, led by Freeland Board member and Green Lake Conservancy Vice President of Conservation Thomas Eddy.

Freeland will host a special tour of Mitchell Glen. The tour will be led by Tom Eddy, who also is a Freeland board member. The tour is scheduled for Saturday Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. submitted photo

The tour begins at 8 a.m., meeting at Sunset Park, and will conclude at 10 a.m.

A bus will be on hand to provide transportation to Mitchell Glen and is limited to 25 attendees.

Saturday and Sunday will feature a plethora of feature films, panels and short films.

One such feature film is “Silent Forests,” which centers around conservationists trying to end elephant poaching. It will air Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Town Square and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at Green Lake’s American Legion’s hall.

The film’s director Mariah Wilson will be in attendance for both screenings.

The festival also has added two screenings it didn’t have last year. One is the “centerpiece film,” and the other is the “closing night film.”

The centerpiece film is “Kifaru,” which follows two young men’s conservation efforts in Kenya, airs Saturday at 7 p.m. at Thrasher Opera House.

The festival’s closing film is “Tigerland,” which follows the effort to save Siberian Tigers from extinction. It will air Sunday at 7 p.m. at Thrasher Opera House.

Another addition to the festival is three short film programs, where patrons can buy one ticket and see multiple short films back to back.

Panels at the event will cover issues of the day, ranging from climate change to human trafficking.

Panelists, comprised of many of the festival’s big-name guests, will discuss what society can do to rectify them.

The festival also will host workshops Saturday for those seeking to create change through art.

Freeland hopes the festival can boost the local economy and contribute to the revitalization of Green Lake.

“We know the Heidel House closed; we’re from Green Lake. What we’re trying to do is bring people into Green Lake [and] get eyes on Green Lake,” Freeland Foundation Founder Steven Galster said. “We think Green Lake sells itself; it’s unique, it’s beautiful. We’d like to inject some juice into the community.”