Calling all lovers of film: BIFF organizers seek volunteers

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BDN file photo (From left): Former Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) Executive Director Max Maiken and current executive director Marty Densch operate the BIFF Box Office last year. Film festival organizers are currently seeking as many as 400 festival volunteers to make sure it runs smoothly.

BELOIT - Organizers are asking 300 to 400 community members to volunteer for this year's Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF).

During the 14th annual festival, which will run from Feb. 22 - March 3, more than 100 films will be screened at eight venues in Beloit. Organizers mostly need people to take tickets at the venues and work the box office, but they also need a few volunteers to serve as drivers to pick up filmmakers at the airport in cars donated by Finley Buick GMC and some film technicians to operate the movies.

Marty Densch, BIFF executive director, said ticket takers are called ambassadors, because they manage the front lines and are the first person moviegoers see.

Though BIFF staff doesn't encourage attendees to buy tickets at the door, since shows can and will sell out, ticket takers also sell tickets and have iPads with credit card readers.

He said there are many veteran volunteers who donate their time year after year, some of whom have been volunteering since the beginning.

"They love doing it, and we love having them," Densch said. "The thing we hear about most, especially on social media, is the great people that filmmakers meet here, from the drivers who pick them up at the airport, to the ticket takers at the venues and the people that buy them drinks just to get a chance to talk with them about their films. These stories go around the world."

There's also the added perk of volunteers receiving four free passes for BIFF films.

"They take advantage of it, because they are film lovers," Densch said. "We've got some great films, with filmmakers who have done really nice work."

Volunteers can sign up online at beloitfilmfest.org/festival/volunteers. For those wishing to learn more about volunteering, there will be special Sign Up Days from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Jan. 26, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9. During those times, volunteer coordinators Jim and Nancy Heidt will be at Bushel and Peck Local Market at 328 State St.

"It is the people of Beloit that make all the difference," the Heidt's said.

Densch said once organizers get a picture of the total number of volunteers, they will schedule training sessions in the weeks leading up to BIFF.

For additional information, check out BIFF on Facebook and click "Like" to receive info updates on volunteer training days and times. Those interested also can call 773-818-5010.

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