Test your filmmaking mettle! Make a film in mere days (or hours) at a Wis-Kino Kabaret. Kabarets are a Kino tradition, and about twice a year, Wis-kino holds one: You will have a very short period of time in which to complete a film that’s under 5 minutes long and that somehow includes the secret ingredient revealed at the opening night screening. Kabarets are also a popular form of international bonding within Kino. Usually we have visiting Kino filmmakers who add their energy to the creative mix, and when we can, we travel to other Kino cells to participate in their Kabarets–kind of like an exchange program for filmmakers!

How does the Wis-Kino Kabaret work? We meet on the first day and have a regular screening full of new Wis-Kino and Kino International films. Filmmakers are free to submit pieces as they would for a regular screening, but there will also be a curated part of the program. At the end of the screening, we reveal the secret ingredient (a theme or object) that everyone must use in their film, in whatever way they wish. Then the crews get together and we make some plans. Two or three days later we all reconvene to see what everyone came up with. It’s a fantastic challenge, and it’ll expand your filmic horizons!

Preplanning: Although the films are produced within the allotted time (2-3 days, usually), we encourage participants to assemble teams and materials ahead of time and scout potential locations and scenarios for the films. Use our discussion forum to coordinate these things! Also, before each Kabaret we try to schedule a couple of informal get-togethers, where anyone who wants to participate in the Kabaret can attend and talk to other people who might collaborate with them. These pre-Kabaret meetings will be announced on the Wis-Kino website discussion forum.

The Kino Lab: The filmmaking process is all about collaboration and, to help that along and make things more fun, we have a Kino Lab during the Kabaret. The Kino Lab is a public place where everyone participating in the Kabaret is invited to bring their equipment, work on their film, and help other filmmakers with their films. It is a secure location, so you can set your equipment up in advance and leave it there during the course of the event. Our past Kino Labs have been at the WYOU Community Television station (609 E. Washington Ave., Madison) and may be there again in the future. If you would like to use their production and editing equipment during the course of the Kabaret, be sure to join (the membership fee is modest, but only members can use WYOU resources).

What if you don’t have your own equipment? Come anyway. Ask around, and you’ll probably be able to join a crew that does. Filmmaking is all about networking, after all. If you are a member of WYOU, you may be able to borrow some of their equipment. We also always need actors, musicians, grips and production assistants!

What if you’re a beginner? Great! Everyone is welcome, regardless of experience, age, or focus. This is a great way to play with new ideas and learn on the fly. So don’t obsess about it–just do something! What if you haven’t made a film but you want to come to the screening? Fantastic. Just show up! We need our audience; we crave our audience; we LOVE our audience. Why do we spell “Kabaret” so funny? Don’t we know how to spell it? It’s French. We defer to the French Canadians because they started Kino. Some of us are even learning French BECAUSE of Kino. How’s that for commitment?

Rules for making and submitting a film at the Kabaret

Kabarets are held twice a year, typically in the Spring and Fall.

  1. The filmmaker(s) must register each planned Kabaret film on the opening night of the Kabaret, so that we can plan the screening based on the number of films that will be shown. One person will be designated as the primary director. (If the filmmaker(s) absolutely cannot attend the opening night of the Kabaret, arrangements may be made with the co-directors to sign up in absentia. Please contact them prior to the opening screening either by phone or email – wis.kino.films@gmail.com)
  2. Kabaret films must be made within the period of the Kabaret event.
  3. Films must incorporate the secret ingredient for the Kabaret. This will be announced on the opening night and posted on the website.
  4. Films must be no longer than 5 minutes long.
  5. Completed film must be mini-DV or DVD format. (Remember to check the sound on and rewind your final tape!)
  6. Filmmakers must check in, completed film(s) in hand, 10 minutes before the beginning of the Kabaret screening.
  7. Film must include the Wis-Kino logo (or word ‘Wis-Kino’) and current year, in the end credits. Download our logo here or visit our downloads page.

Upcoming Kabarets for 2009:

March 20 – 22 (Friday through Sunday)

July 16 – 19 (Thursday through Sunday – special 3 day Kabaret!)

November 20 – 22 (Friday through Sunday)


  1. […] Lounge. It’s an open screening, meaning that anyone can bring any short film to show (see guidelines). At the end of the night, we’ll sign up everyone interested in participating in the Kabaret […]

  2. […] Kabarets […]

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