As evening deepens into night on Thursday, the Orpheum Theater is hopping with the comings and goings for the opening night of the Wisconsin Film Festival.
The pair of theaters in the faded movie palace serves as the central hub for the fest every year, with lines forming at multiple points: outside the main entrance on State Street, outside the Stage Door entrance on Johnson Street, at the main box office, at the bar, and at the entrance to the main theater.
Film-goers are gathering for two screenings: The District! and Air Guitar Nation, the first pair of late-night offerings of the weekend. The former -- an animated tale of Hungarian hip-hop -- is screening in the main theater, which is moderately filled on both the floor and balcony.
The back of the wall at the top of the balcony in the Orpheum, meanwhile, is lined with many canisters and open reels of films to screen over the next three days.
After introducing the movie, festival director Meg Hamel shares her thoughts about the first few hours of the event. "It"s been fantastically good, it's actually been fun," she says.
"I hadn't anticipated filling the Wisconsin Union Theatre for Chalk, the opening night film," Hamel continues. "Since that's a new theater for us, I just didn't know how it was going to pan out. That was really the one unexpected thing, but it was a piece of cake."
A dozen photos of the Thursday night crowds inside the Orpheum can be viewed in the gallery at right.
Keep track of the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival with coverage on The Daily Page.