Michael Noens credits independent films with often displaying characters with depth and an artistic vision -- something he says is missing from many big-name blockbusters.
That's why Noens organizes the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival. The film fest, ongoing through Sunday at Cutting Hall in Palatine, showcases both short features and full-length movies.
"Independent film in general has always been close to my heart," he said.
The festival is in its fourth year, and has grown each year, Noens said. He says they're always looking for ways to improve the experience.
In years past, the organizers have tried to get filmmakers to appear at the festival to promote their films, but that has proven difficult. So Noens now offers video chats that allow film buffs to ask questions and interact with the filmmakers.
This helps create a bond, building an interest in indie movies.
"The indie films we show are not super experimental; they're mostly mainstream," Noens said.
Noens says the main selling point that he sees in independent films is that the story matters and characters have unique challenges to overcome.
"The story is very flushed out and is usually a passion project. It has this more intimate experience like the filmmaker is speaking directly to you," he said.
"Every element from the film fuels the story."
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