The Eau Claire World Film Festival highlights local and international films

This weekend the festival will feature both local and foreign films at the Pablo Center


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Ferraro said the lineup of short films for the weekend range from comedies and indie films, to cultural films and political documentaries.

The third annual Eau Claire World Film Festival is returning this year, with a lineup of various genres created by filmmakers who live in regions varying from Eau Claire all the way to Japan. 

Breanna Ferraro, the marketing and communications media director of the Festival, said this is the first year the film festival will be held in the Pablo Center in downtown Eau Claire.

The event will take place Nov. 8 and 9, with a few free screenings on Friday the 8.

Ferraro said viewers can expect to see films from all over the globe and all throughout the United States, but especially from the Midwest. 

“We strive to include artists and filmmakers from the local area,” Ferraro said. “We do accept admissions from overseas, so we get a handful of films from the like the Germany-Austria region which is really cool.”

“Nunchaka and Soul” — coined “the Japanese Napoleon Dynamite” on the Festival’s Facebook page — headlines comedy night on Friday.

Then this year’s feature film, “Purple Haze” by David Burton, which was filmed in Minneapolis, will be screened Saturday night.

“It’s a grand-prize winning film,” Ferraro said. “It immerses the viewer in the year 1968 with hippie culture, all-night parties.”

 She said it focuses on how music has changed from then to now and includes songs by artists like Jimi Hendrix and Buffalo Springfield.

Ferraro said the lineup of short films for the weekend, however, range from comedies and indie films, to cultural films and political documentaries.

“I’d say having that variety makes for a more inclusive festival overall,” she said.

Ferraro said one of her favorites is “The Last Harvest,” a documentary focusing on the immigration crisis.

However, Ferraro said they always try to include as many midwestern films and filmmakers as they can.

“Highlighting young, local filmmakers are really important,” Ferraro said. “So I think those are going to be a big hit.” 

One such filmmaker is Tim Schwagel, who is in his early 20s but said he has been making films since he was in middle school.

He said he is one of the few narrative filmmakers in Eau Claire, so he’s excited to meet artists from across the Chippewa Valley and Midwest at the World Film Festival.

His short film “Punch Me” will be screened Friday night.

“It’s about two girls who rob a gas station, poorly,” Schwagel said.

He said the film totals 6 minutes, but that it feels even shorter.

“I called it a dark comedy for a while, but now I don’t think it’s that dark,” Schwagel said. “It’s definitely a comedy, a heist-comedy. The point is to have fun while you’re watching it.” 

Schwagel said he has released around 5 or 6 short films, but this is the first he has submitted to any festivals. He said he’s submitted “Punch Me” to other film festivals in Wisconsin and the Midwest and is waiting to hear back.

“The reality of festivals is that you’re gonna submit to loads, and probably get into like, two,” Schwagel said. “Because everyone in the whole country is submitting all over the place.”

He said he’s excited to see the community’s reaction to “Punch Me” at the Festival, as most people don’t spend much time outside of festivals watching short films.

“A lot of time you can watch stuff and not feel preached to,” he said of film festivals. “So it’s a good way to get a new perspective — especially somewhere like Eau Claire, where we don’t really get foreign or independent films.”

“We want this to be a festival where anyone can join in,” Ferraro said, “to not be so closed-off like a lot of film festivals are.”

Tickets can be purchased online at

Lopez can be reached at [email protected].