Reel Lives: Ellie Stark

Q: Tell us about yourself! What is your year and major?

A: I’m from a suburb of Chicago and came to UW–Madison to intern at state agencies and share my love of the Bears. I am a junior majoring in Legal Studies, Finance, and Risk Management & Insurance. I hope to become a criminal prosecutor or a securities regulator.

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: Outside of school I like to watch cheesy horror movies from the ‘80s – Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a masterpiece. In addition to watching movies, I volunteer at the Family Court Clinic and intern at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Q: What is your dream job?

A: My dream job would be either an ice cream taste tester for Ben & Jerry’s or an attorney in the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s Enforcement division.

Q: If you HAD to pick, what is your favorite film of all time?

A: My favorite film is The Blues Brothers. As an Illinois native, the references to Illinois culture coupled with famous landmarks are a snapshot of 1980’s Chicago and remind me of home. Plus, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown combine to create the best soundtrack a movie could have.

Q: …and favorite film genre?

A: My favorite genre is horror because I hate heights and fast speeds, but can still feel that mixture of fear and excitement watching Hannibal Lecter or Michael Myers. Films like The Shining, IT, House (1977), Us, and It Follows are some of my favorites.

Q: What do you do for the Wisconsin Film Festival?

A: The interns watch the films that are submitted to the Wisconsin’s Own section, which is for films with some connection to Wisconsin either through location, crew, or cast. Typically, there is anywhere from two to five hours of submissions each week. When watching them, I take notes about what I liked, had questions on, and how the Festival audience would perceive the submission.

Then, the three interns and two full-time programmers discuss our opinions of the submission and whether we think it could play at the Festival.

Q: Have you attended any previous Festivals?

A: I attended last year’s Film Festival.

Q: Name a favorite film you saw during WFFs of past?

A: I saw Knock Down the House, the documentary about dark-horse female candidates running in U.S. congressional elections often against male incumbents. I’m not embarrassed to say I shed a few happy tears when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her district. As a finance and law major, I can relate to feeling like an outsider in a male-dominated profession and appreciate the challenges that the women faced just to mount a serious campaign.

Q: Give us some insight into the programming process. What grabs your attention when screening films for inclusion in the WFF program?

A film with well-written dialogue that fits the tone of the submission grabs my attention. Whether it’s a cheesy parody or a heartfelt drama, if the dialogue matches, then the film has a good chance of getting my support.