And that’s a Wrap

Bill CoadyBy Bill Coady

I had the pleasure of sitting down with James Rubino, the organizer of the Wausau Film Festival after it was over last night.  He was pleased with the turnout for the event and is planning further film events here in Wausau.  He is hoping to have have quarterly showings of local films at an intimate venue like Kelly’s with a larger annual festival.  Certainly ambitious plans, but if realized it will add very much to the already vibrant arts scene here in Wausau.

About 120 people attended the 4 showings of the festival, which James considered pretty good for the first time out.  It may be that the perfect spring weather held down attendance during the afternoon showings, the 7 pm showing was completely full, and the folks at Kelly’s were kind enough to allow an extra showing of some of the films after 9 pm, which also attracted a pretty good crowd considering it was not on the original program.

Audience members were enthusiastic about the films, as I chatted with James at the end of the last showing, he would ask people as they left what they thought of the event and which films they liked best.  Every one gave the event as a whole a thumbs up, and picked “Tractor for Sale”; “The Magnificent Donut” and the “big budget” “West Bank Story” as favorites.  James also mentioned that among the younger set, “Ghost Tag” got rave reviews as it is somewhat of a music video featuring the music of local bands.  If you missed the festival, you can check out the films by going to, where James has links to all of the films that were shown.

But interestingly enough, James gives the internet mixed reviews when it comes to filmaking.

“It is great for communications among filmmakers,” he said, “and good for getting the word out about a film,” but he feels it “would be a shame” if that is how people experienced film.

“It should be a community experience,” he went on, citing similar thought expressed by Ken Burns in his recent appearance in Stevens Point.  “There should be a shared experience with film — maybe you will start laughing after you hear the person next to you laugh, too.”  Especially if that person is snorting through their nose at “Chad Vader,” I have to add.

Community was a big theme in why James put together the film festival and throughout our conversation.  James feels that there is the underpinnings of a very good film making community here is Wausau.  James feels that with some sponsorship and underwriting that a community film making effort could really take off here.  James feels the talent and creativity is here, and judging from the films that were shown, I have to agree.  James also feels that perhaps one avenue that really needs to be explored is the collaboration between local bands and local film makers.

It is true that Wausau has a tremendous arts community, including such wonderful institutions such as the Leigh Yawkey-Woodson Art Museum, The Center for the Visual Arts, the Wausau Conservatory of Music, Wausau Dance Theater and many others.  It would be nice if soon there was a similar place for film makers and their art, and I think that James and his crew that put together this first film festival are off to a good start to make that happen.


12 responses to “And that’s a Wrap

  1. Pingback: Globally Local » Local Community Events

  2. Being a bit of a music snob…I think that the link between the films and the music is not there yet. I find that the music here lacks a certain Beastie Boys type of creativity.

    Where is wausau’s SUN RA? Ornette Coleman does not live here.

    Melvin Gibbs is not playing in any of these bands.

    I think there are some cool bands, but man where is my SONIC YOUTH. Who is experiemental?

    Where are the Beatles inspired young people who want to have loops and chunky beats…its all dream theatre crap.

    Tom Jordan has a Necromantics type of thing going.

    This cat Cole Holiday is rocking the harp in progressive/really regressed ways.

    I might be talking out my butt.

    I took a unisom.


  3. You’re right, Dino: you’re talking out your butt. Given that you write (quite lovingly) about local music in CITY PAGES every week, I must admit that I’m amazed at how dismissive, snobby and (frankly) *mean* your recent music-based posts on the WausauBlog have been.

    I’m not saying Wausau’s a musical Shangri-La by any means, but I think you’re out of line.

  4. Name five cats in town that are highly creative

  5. What kind of response is that? Why don’t you name “five cats” in any other city of Wausau’s size (or bigger, for that matter) that you consider “highly creative?” Believe me, if you’re judging by Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman or The Beatles, you ain’t gonna find many…

    That’s not even the point, Dino. You’re supposed to be one of Wausau’s arts mavens, somebody who cares and knows deeply about local music. As this blog describes you, you are “passionate about the people and places of his hometown and it shows.” You worked at a community radio station (which I hope returns), and you’ve booked a wide variety of music around the era. You’re also, I point out again, the main music critic for the city’s supposedly “alternative” weekly, and you’ve written extensively, and quite positively, about a variety of local bands.

    And yet, between this comment and your previous entry, “Music Is A Restorative Art,” you’ve displayed real, disturbing contempt for the very musicians whom you (supposedly) support and who – indirectly – pay at least part of your salary. Here you slam them for what you call their lack of “creativity,” which is quite interesting coming from somebody who – as far as I know – is not a musician. In the previous post, you also trashed the very idea of “local music,” which once again makes me wonder how and why you can come up with all the praise you lavish upon local bands in the CITY PAGES.

    Given your disdainful remarks concerning Wausau’s music scene, which – as I said – hold local bands up to ridiculously high standards (Sun Ra, Ornette, Sonic Youth), I can’t understand why any local band would want to have anything to do with you or your opinions.

    I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, and I may very well be overreacting, but I get angrier and angrier the more I reflect on the style and substance of this mean-spirited post. I’d like to think that you’re smarter, and more soulful, than this, Dino, and it hurts.

  6. I am obviously smarter than this, and I am assuming the curmudgeonly role. But the fact is why not hold local cats to high standards?

    I can name 5. Jeff Janikowski, Tom Jordan, Cole Holiday, Jeff Sandbom, Andy Zynda.

    In my defense, I was on unisom, waiting for sleep. And there was the letter incident.

    I do not think I trashed local music in the Lucky Stiffs post, I reread it and it was one direct sentence.

    But again, thanks for expecting more of me Charles. You have the ear to expect that, and for me not to challenge you to the Festivus Rites of Strength.

  7. Well, if we’re going to have “The Airing of Grievances”, then it only follows that we should also have “Feats of Strength” to maintain the true spirit and tradition of Festivus. But I will leave it for the group to decide. 🙂

  8. Dino,
    The only reason I cared in the first place was because I’ve known you to be a true believer in supporting local music. I want to make you live the life you sing about, as the gospel singers say, and I expect nothing less from you to me. We’re all in this together, after all…

  9. Man Dino, I could name a dozen cats off the top of my head in this town who are intensely creative…deviously skilled in their arts and true lovers of beauty…haven’t you come across them in your travels?

  10. I know that Barry.

    What I want to find is the creative types to write about. I am looking, all day long.

    I get the “Were hiding” vibe. Or the we do not trust the paper thing.

    I just want to write about people, celebrate creativity.

  11. I am trying to reconcile this comment in Bill’s final paragraph with what Dino has said:

    “It is true that Wausau has a tremendous arts community, including such wonderful institutions such as the Leigh Yawkey-Woodson Art Museum, The Center for the Visual Arts, the Wausau Conservatory of Music, Wausau Dance Theater and many others. ”

    It doesn’t make sense to me…what am I missing?

    cheers, Barry

  12. Barry,

    I think that the institutionalized arts are one thing, and I think the street level arts are another thing all together.

    I believe that for a city of this size, the arts are someething that has been put in the bigger rooms. And for the most part, those are static forms.

    I seek the more challenging things. The things that the benefactors might cringe at. Those things.

    I believe that they exist, in some form, but am unsure as to why people seem to hide their artistic sensibilities.

    My snobbery might be getting in the way.

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