Grab your popcorn, it's the Sycamore Film Festival

SYCAMORE – Everyone wants to make money, but many makers of small films just want their films to be seen.

“You want to make sure that people get to see it,” said Ram Goetz, a Sycamore High School graduate studying at Columbia College.

Goetz is the producer of “The October Crisis,” a 13-minute narrative short film shot in Ottawa last October. The 21-year-old filmmaker said “it’s just about two young men who come face to face with guilt over a loved one, and they have to decide if murder is the best way to solve the issue.”

His is one of 34 films from around the world that will be shown at the second annual Sycamore Film Festival this weekend at the Sycamore Theater. Shela Lahey, executive director of the festival, said 100 films were submitted, and a panel of screeners narrowed the field to 34. The run time of the selected films ranges from 1 minute, 7 seconds to 2 hours, 1 minute.

“We want to run everyone’s film at least two to three times, so we only choose between 30 and 35 films in order to accommodate the schedule,” Lahey said.

Awards will be presented in each of seven categories: documentaries, educational shorts, short features, student films, foreign films, features and Christian films. Genres include comedy, action and even animation.

Film topics include a Christian documentary on Native Americans, Holocaust survivors, the last standing castle in Chicago, underground radio stations, a fraternity event on the campus of Northern Illinois University and Lahey’s documentary on DeKalb, “Wired,” which will debut at the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12.

“Wired,” Lahey said, “is an exciting, humorous and educational compilation of stories and memories as told by 57 residents of DeKalb, representing every decade from 8 to 92 years of age.”

Goetz is looking forward to his first time in the festival.

“I think there’s nothing greater to come back to the town you lived in and let them see what can come from people who come from Sycamore,” he said.

“It’s so humbling to be part of such an amazing festival that happens to be minutes from my home,” said Seth Deming, who made five films with little money and small casts.

The Sycamore Film Festival officially kicks off at 8 a.m. Friday with a student filmmaker program at Sycamore and DeKalb high schools. Students will view films and choose the one they like the best. The Student Choice Award will be presented in a public ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Jane Fargo Hotel in Sycamore.

The rest of the films will begin at 3:45 p.m. Friday at the Sycamore Theater and run until 11:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the films run from noon until 9 p.m.

Across town, at Blumen Gardens, 403 Edward St., a concert will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday in conjunction with the film festival. Nobelium 102 will play at 7 p.m., Kalidostar Studios will play at 8 p.m. and Fleshtones will play from 9 p.m. until midnight. A shuttle will run between the concert and the festival.

A Films on War panel, featuring the 25th anniversary of “Good Morning, Vietnam,” will be held at the Jane Fargo Hotel from 9 to 11 a.m. The panel includes members of the film’s cast and crew, a retired lieutenant colonel who ran the Korean War Memorial and consulted on HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” a longtime New York Times journalist, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, active-duty soldiers and local veterans.

A second panel will meet at the hotel from 11 a.m. to noon. This filmmakers panel features actor and director James Hampton,who worked on “The Longest Yard,” “Teen Wolf,” “Sling Bade” and “The China Syndrome;” actor/director/producer Ben Dreyfuss; filmmakers from England and Mexico and a casting director who worked on “Rain Man.”

Both panels are free.

Advance tickets can be purchased at the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb, by phone at 815-758-1225, or online at Tickets will also be sold at the festival.

Ticket holders should be at the theater 15 minutes before show time. A ticket buys an opportunity to attend a screening, but doesn’t guarantee a seat. Screenings will be seated on a first come, first served basis. Proceeds of the festival will benefit DeKalb County educational and community arts programs.

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