Home Arts ‘The Film Forte’ brings celebration of indie movies to Appleton

‘The Film Forte’ brings celebration of indie movies to Appleton


Dan Davies calls Appleton home, though his film career and passion for the screen has been a global endeavor.

This weekend, Davies — an actor, writer and producer — will bring his world to Appleton for a hometown celebration of the art form and all are invited to enjoy.

The Film Forte, a first-year event showcasing independent film and music, will take place on Friday and Saturday. It’ll include a ceremony for the inaugural National Independent Film Awards; a set of honors that fills a niche uncovered by other programs in the American film industry.

It’ll carry the spirit of South by Southwest on a far smaller scale. It’ll be a weekend among the creative and thought provoking that’ll entertain and inspire. Bringing all of that affordably was important to Davies.

“You can bring your family for the price of taking them to see ‘The Avengers,’” he said.

The weekend will include world premiere film screenings. The audience will enjoy world premiere trailers, live music performances and some tastes of Appleton’s contributions to film.

It’s a weekend that not just anyone could organize.

Dan Davies

Davies was the first American to ever be awarded a Golden Movie Award, which is a top three film award on the continent of Africa. He co-starred in two films that are respectively the number six and 32nd highest box office Nollywood films of all time. Davies has also done some local work of note. He wrote, co-produced and starred in the comedic “Ed Gein, The Musical,” which gained some Wisconsin notoriety based on the subject matter.

Davies is also behind the National Independent Film Awards — a project like none he’s previously undertaken.

The idea arrived like many good ones do: over beer.

Davies co-starred in “Flim: the Movie,” which was nominated for a British Independent Film Award and as the British beer flowed, out came a thought:

“Hey Danny, why not create your own American version of the BIFAs?” 

And Dan thought, “why not?”

Grammy-winning country artist Neal McCoy is the inaugural NIFA Musical Legend Award Winner. He’ll accept his honor by video.  Davies was thrilled when Sir Sean Connery accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award. Though Connery is unable to make it to Appleton, Jeff Olm will be on hand in his hometown to personally accept a Lifetime Achievement Award for post-production work. 

The Appleton native went off to Hollywood to build a resume that includes “Shrek,” Spiderman,” “Titanic,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers.”

“He’s a legend in post production,” Davies said. “He has more than 30 years of experience and $10 billion — that’s with a B — in total box office.”

Michael Blake, Oscar winning writer of “Dances With Wolves,” will receive a posthumous honor.

The event begins on Friday with an industry mixer at Friends and Neighbors, 148 S. Walter Ave.

Saturday’s festivities will begin with a nod to Appleton’s first big film star.

At 2:30 p.m., Davies will lead a Houdini walking tour. Incidentally, it’s 100 years to the month of the release of Houdini’s first full-length film, “The Grim Game.”

The Film Forte will include a world premiere documentary showing. 

“I Learn By Travel” will debut at Lawrence University’s Wriston Art Center Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The free showing will include an intro and Q&A session with executive producer David Starr.

The main program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the art center.

The audience will enjoy world premiere trailers, a world premiere feature film and live music performances from Will Keizer and Franki Moscato. 

Money raised from poster sales and from a movie prop auction will benefit the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin.

General admission tickets are $20 with VIP packages also available. Tickets can be purchased here.

Those who purchase VIP tickets receive an autographed copy of the USA Today Bestselling book “Identity Crisis.” 

Those who buy a ticket to this weekend’s event will also receive a free, comparable ticket for next year’s Film Forte, which will take place from May 1 to 3, 2020.