The Livingston Inn | Madison, Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast

Now Eligible To Vote

 

To start, this blog has nothing to do with presidential politics. I’m sure many readers are thankful for that. Instead, there is an event that turns 18 years old this month – the age eligible to vote – and has embraced the democratic process for many years. A warm welcome to spring, the Wisconsin Film Festival (WFF) begins this week on Thursday and celebrates its 18th year bringing the joy of film to its fans.

There’s a lot of voting that happens at the festival. Some individuals have spent the last several months watching films and participating in the collaborative process to figure out the best films for this year’s audience. The jury reviewing Wisconsin’s Own – the category of film dedicated to our state’s filmmakers – have made their selection for the Golden Badger Award, akin to a WFF Oscar. The ceremony for the winners is held on opening night. Most importantly, this year’s cinephiles again have the opportunity to vote for their favorites as part of the Steep & Brew Audience Award. Categories for the award are narrative, documentary, and best rediscovery.

Opening NightEach year the festival becomes more exciting to us as the organizers expand and come up with fabulous ways to make the event something for everyone, yet in Madison’s unique way. The 2016 festival expands to the east side with films shown at the historic Barrymore Theatre. Opening night will also feature Madison’s own disco cover band, VO5, playing at the Harmony Bar just down the road from the Barrymore. For families attending the festival, the “Big Screens, Little Folks” program returns with films geared toward children ages 5-11 (and a great option since Madison schools happen to be closed on Friday during the festival due to a professional development day).

In the spirit of the voting theme, and bringing back something we did a couple years ago, below are Peggy and my top selections for the festival. While there are many more fantastic films, we hope these will pique your interest to fully immerse yourself in a week of cinema here in Madison.

Peggy

  1. ApostateThe Apostate. Set in Madrid, a young man tries to leave the Catholic Church and runs into some baffling obstacles. The film is a humorous examination of the contradictions among religion and agnosticism.
  2. The Club. Peggy is on a theme here. The Club is another film in Spanish, this one set in Chile, and with a storyline related to the Catholic Church. The narrative film, however, has a much more serious theme with its story about transgressions of modern-day priests.
  3. The Crow’s Egg. An engaging and warm move, The Crow’s Egg follows two young brothers growing up in an Indian slum and their dream to eat a slice of pizza B010_C003_0804BAfrom the newly opened pizza parlor. It’s a feel-good movie with an element of social conscience.
  4. Kill Me Please. Brazilian director and screenwriter, Anita Rocha da Silveira, offers a macabre tale about a wave of murders using the artistry of brightly colored cinematography combined with a “killer” soundtrack.
  5. The Love Witch. A witch seeks a lover using potions in this sexy and funny film. Reflecting the art of film in the late 60s and early 70s, the director photographs her movies on 35mm film and WFF will screen The Love Witch from a 35mm print.

Dave

  1. CosmosCosmos.  Cosmos is the much-anticipated first film in fifteen years from Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski, who sadly died in February at the age of 75. Hailed by WFF as a “cinematic maelstrom”, the film follows two friends to a guesthouse in Portugal and chronicles a story full of omens, obsession, paranoia and jealousy.
  2. Louder Than Bombs. Featured at the Cannes Film Festival and a Best Film at the Stockholm Film Festival, Louder Than Bombs is a story about the revelations of a father and his two sons upon going through the departed mother’s work as a war photographer. The story masterly fragments time and reality using flashbacks, voiceovers, and dreams to understand the characters’ psyches.
  3. Mad About Madison. This WFF Shorts Program features selections from local filmmakers. Laugh at the Atwood Avenue turkeys, discover local preservation efforts, and take in a couple of perspectives on life at UW-Madison.
  4. Sing Street. Set in Ireland in 1985, Sing Street is a heroic tale of success and conflict when a 14-year old boy forms a band and becomes all the rage in the neighborood. Directed by John Carney, whose credits include Once and Begin Again, the film is a sure favorite for those who enjoy the nostalgia of 80s pop music.
  5. Under the SunUnder the Sun. This documentary filmed in North Korea reveals the unseen daily life of the country’s citizens. Directed by Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, Under the Sun provides a rare glimpse into the homes, schools, and factories behind the Bamboo Curtain.

To read about these films and more, you can visit the WFF website at 2016.wifilmfest.org or pick up a paper film guide at many outlets around town. We hope to see you out and about during this year’s festival and to celebrate Wisconsin Film Festival’s 18th birthday. It’s sure to be a nice break from the ongoing news about the other votes we’re making in 2016!

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Summer Time Fun

Last week I really enjoyed a supplement to our weekly newspaper, The Isthmus, called “Summer Times”.  It reminded me of all the wonderful things Madison has to offer this time of year.  Certainly we have our time-honored events like Concerts on the Square, Opera in the Park, Art Fair on the Square, and Paddle and Portage.  But The Isthmus supplement was well done because it also featured things to do and see that are less familiar, either because they typically attract a smaller crowd or perhaps still have not been discovered by most residents and visitors.  Of those, the following are ones I would recommend checking out for summer 2015:

index1.    Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) Rooftop Cinema. The Isthmus dedicates a whole section to outdoor movie watching.  This has been a summer tradition in our family for years, and we love it.  While there are options around town for drive-ins and outdoor venues featuring major films, MMoCA makes it extra special with avant-garde short films, including a Canadian precursor to sketches from one of my favorite TV shows, Kids in the Hall.  MMoCA shows the films on top of the Overture Center on State Street, adding to the appeal of this film-watching experience.   Movies screenings are Friday nights in June and on August 21.  www.mmoca.org

2.    Music Theatre of Madison (MTM) at The Brink Lounge.  For a small city, Madison has an impressive number of theater groups.  MTM has earned an excellent reputation among vocal performers and will perform a show called Miscast 6.0.  This one-night only cabaret on July 31 features performers encouraged to bring to life songs from their favorite musicals, whether the performers are right for the part or not.  The result is entertaining mismatches that demonstrate vocal skills in funny and sometimes moving performances.  A further bonus is Miscast 6.0 will be held at one of my favorite music venues – The Brink Lounge, a casual yet elegant space just blocks from the Capitol Square and The Livingston Inn.  www.mtmadison.com

MTM

juneteenthmadison3.    Juneteenth.  One Madison tradition that has endured over the years is the annual Juneteenth celebration.  In its 15th year, the 2015 event features a parade at 4pm on June 19th at Brittingham Park followed by a celebration on June 20th from noon to 6pm at Olin Park.  From music to movies, literature to language, fashion to finance, Black America has a predominant influence on mainstream American culture.  Juneteenth is an ideal way to celebrate African-American heritage and emancipation as part of our urban community.  www.juneteenthmadison.wordpress.com

Radicals4.    Madison Radicals.  Have you heard about our ultimate disc (Frisbee) team?  They’re having another stellar year, leading the standings in the Midwest division.  Best of all, they play at Breese Stevens field, a beautifully restored old ballpark just blocks from The Livingston Inn.  The Radicals attract a nice-sized group of dedicated fans, and we sometimes enjoy an evening on our front porch just listening to the roar of the crowd when there’s a goal or spectacular play.  Remaining home games are 6/20, 7/12, and 7/17.  www.radicalsultimate.com

5.    Shake the Lake.  For many years our renowned summer fireworks event, Rhythm and Booms, attracted big crowds and was the fireworks show to see around town.  Unfortunately, lack of funding got the best of it.  Shake the Lake hopes to re-vive our fireworks tradition in Madison.  Set on Lake Monona and John Nolen Drive, the evening fun includes live bands plus performances from the UW Marching Band and our superb Mad City Rollin’ Dolls roller derby.  The event also offers fun for kids, a rooftop party on Monona Terrace, and a collaborative BBQ platter featuring our top restaurants through the Madison Area Chef’s Network.  Join the fun on June 27 starting at 5pm, fireworks at 10pm.  www.shakethelake.org

There are many other wonderful events, games, festivals, and fairs related to music, theater, sports, art, and so much more this summer in Madison.  It’s sure to be a time for great memories.  If you happen to be staying with us in the coming months, be sure to ask what’s going on around town.  We would be happy to tell you how you might work one or two extra special opportunities into your visit to Madison.

Happy Summer!

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The Year in Photos 2012

Like many of you, we look back this time of year to reflect upon the events and experiences that filled our lives.  Here are some of the special photos that represent the wonderful memories among our family and guests at The Livingston Inn in 2012.

Despite a mild winter for 2011-12, our son took this photo at James Madison Park after a cold windy day blew waves onto the park.

Despite a mild winter for 2011-12, our son took this photo at James Madison Park after a cold windy day blew waves onto the park.

February brought a magical evening with the Century Dinner - eight courses with custom cocktails. Amazing!
February brought a magical evening with the Century Dinner – eight courses with custom cocktails. Amazing!

Spring came with a Norwegian get together of family and friends connected to Nils Haugen, the third owner of our house.

Spring came with a Norwegian get together of family and friends connected to Nils Haugen, the third owner of our house.

We welcome spring each year with the annual Wisconsin Film Festival. In 2012, The Entertainers film crew held a very fun and festive party at our B&B.

We welcome spring each year with the annual Wisconsin Film Festival. In 2012, The Entertainers film crew held a very fun and festive party at our B&B.

Our yellowwood tree bloomed this year, an event that happens once every four years.  Beautiful hanging over the wrought iron fence in the front garden.

Our yellowwood tree bloomed this year, an event that happens once every four years. Beautiful hanging over the wrought iron fence in the front garden.

May also graced us with the fragrance and beauty of the lilacs on Livingston Street. This photo was taken by Jacqui Harman, daughter of the Harman family who resided in our house for the latter half of the 20th century.

May also graced us with the fragrance and beauty of the lilacs on Livingston Street. This photo was taken by Jacqui Harman, daughter of the Harman family who resided in our house for the latter half of the 20th century.

Sunsets on our lakefront access didn't disappoint again. Here are a few of our favorites.

Sunsets on our lakefront access didn’t disappoint again. Here are a few of our favorites.

Like many of our other photos, our son takes most of the sunset ones.

Like many of our other photos, our son takes most of the sunset ones.

Many beautiful evenings this summer on the lake.

Many beautiful evenings this summer on the lake.

Fall colors are even more spectacular looking out from the cupola at the top of the house.

Fall colors are even more spectacular looking out from the cupola at the top of the house.

We love Halloween and this year was extra special with a wedding!

We love Halloween and this year was extra special with a wedding!

A special greeting at the front door this Halloween!

A special greeting at the front door this Halloween!

The beauty of Christmas seemed extra special this year.

The beauty of Christmas seemed extra special this year.

The Livingston Inn - December 2012 Snowstorm

The Livingston Inn – December 2012 Snowstorm

Our best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

Our best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

Five Furlans, five films, film festival

In celebration of the upcoming 14th annual Wisconsin Film Festival, April 18 to 22, in Madison, I’m presenting our Furlan family’s picks for this year’s events. There are over 150 films at the festival, all sure to be great, but perhaps our preview will help you narrow down your choices. Film descriptions courtesy of festival staff.

Peggy, age 40+, wine enthusiast, professional conversationist

  1. An African Election, documentary, USA/Switzerland. This documentary thriller looks behind the scenes at Ghana’s young democracy, its complex political machinery, and its struggle to prove its legitimacy to its own citizens.
  2. Alps, narrative, Greece. For many cinephiles, this darkly comic mind game from Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos ranks among the most anticipated films of the year.
  3. The Fairy, narrative, Belgium/France. Dom is a clerk at a rundown hotel in Le Havre whose humdrum overnight shift is interrupted by Fiona, a self-described fairy who grants him three wishes.
  4. Goodbye First Love, narrative, France. Fifteen-year-old Camille is madly in love with Sullivan, who loves her back but not quite enough to forgo his desire to experience the world.
  5. We’re Not Broke, documentary, USA. Filmed and edited largely before last year’s historic events with the international Occupy movement, We’re Not Broke nonetheless captures a number of demonstrations (some right here in Madison) that foreshadow the happenings of late 2011.

Daniel, age 16, theater rock star, car aficionado

  1. Elena, narrative,Russia. A domestic thriller indebted to – and worthy of – Albert Hitchcock, this Russian knockout is situated at the always uneasy intersection of love and money.
  2. Flooding with Love for the Kid, narrative, USA. Flooding is a meticulous, faithful adaptation of David Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood, which introduced the character of John Rambo.
  3. Girl Model, documentary,USA. A compelling and unsettling expose into a little-known segment of the modeling industry, this film follows the complex supply chain between Siberia, Japan, and the United States through the eyes of Nadya, a 13-year-old Siberian girl, and Ashley Arbaugh, the American scout who discovers her.
  4. Tomboy, narrative,France. Who hasn’t wanted to be someone else? Laure, a pencil-thin 10-year-old with close-cropped hair, gets the chance when her family moves to a new suburban development. For a brief summer, she enjoys an idyllic double life – beloved daughter and big sister at home, rambunctious boy out with her friends.
  5. Vito, documentary,USA. Vito Russo was one of New York’s most outspoken and inspiring gay rights activists. Director Jeffrey Schwarz combines remarkable archival footage with testimonies from those who knew Russo best to craft a heartfelt and moving portrait of a man and the movements for which he fought.

Joanna, age 14, volleyball player, queen of texting

  1. Compliance, narrative, USA. The most controversial film to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Compliance explores the human motivations behind one of the most bizarre news stories of the last few years.
  2. Girl Model. See Daniel.
  3. Sleepless Night, narrative, France. A thriller with all the boring parts cut out, Sleepless Night is the Ideal Action Movie: a rocking, edge-of-your-seat chase scene extended to feature length.
  4. Taking Off, narrative, USA. Before his career really took off with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Czech émigré director Milos Forman made his American debut with this very funny and observant generation gap comedy.
  5. Without, narrative, USA. A haunting variation on Gaslight, Without is both an enveloping psychodrama and an eerie demonstration of our reliance on technology to keep ourselves placated – and possibly even sane.

Luke, age 11, football player, comedian

  1. The Amateur Monster Movie, narrative,USA. Werewolves and zombies again aim to snack on the living in this hilarious and ingeniously low-budget first feature from Milwaukee native Kyle Richards.
  2. Bugsy Malone, narrative, United Kingdom. Maybe Bugsy Malone is not the first prohibition-era gangster musical comedy, but it’s the first one to feature an entire cast of under-14-year-olds playing the wiseguys and their molls.
  3. The Hunter, narrative, Iran. During a violent flare-up between demonstrators and authorities in the midst ofIran’s 2009 elections, a night watchman’s wife is killed in the crossfire and his seven-year-old daughter is nowhere to be found.
  4. Pelotero, documentary,USA. For thousands of Dominican 16-year-olds being scouted by Major League Baseball, every July 2, or international signing day, is the day they can sign a professional contract. On an island where baseball means everything, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
  5. Policeman, narrative,Israel. As fragmented as the culture it depicts, this riveting dispatch from the frontlines of Israeli politics takes the form of a diptych. The first half studies an elite police squad, the second an anarchic Jewish terrorist cell.

Dave, age 40+, baker, Tae Kwon Do student

  1. An African Election. See Peggy.
  2. Good Bye, narrative, Iran. A deceptively calm indictment of Iran’s repression of women, Good Bye follows a beautiful young woman’s labyrinthine efforts to leave the country.
  3. Green, narrative,USA. A young Brooklyn couple retreat to a secluded Virginia farmhouse and enter a web of jealousy in this eerie indie.
  4. Into the Wake, narrative,USA. For this psychological action thriller shot in Sauk County, director John Mossman enlisted the aid of film students from UW-Baraboo, making this a truly collaborative Wisconsin effort.
  5. Klown, narrative, Denmark. Hailed as one of the funniest films of the year upon its U.S. premiere at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, this extremely raunchy comedy plays like an edgier version of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

We are also excited to offer lodging packages at The Livingston Inn for this year’s festival. Weekday packages (Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday) are $169 and include one night of accommodations and tickets for two to any film. Weekend packages are $399 and include two nights of accommodations and tickets for two for any two films throughout the weekend.

Our thanks to everyone involved in the festival and kudos to the many talented individuals who are a part of this year’s films!