What To Look Forward To In Middle Coast’s Lineup For 2016

Don’t worry, you still have until April 15 to submit your film to the festival, but we wanted to share some of the great films we’ve already locked down for the 2016 festival. One of the things we love about our festival is the diversity in our genres, filmmakers and the subjects they cover, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

Many of these films screened at Sundance and are on the program at SXSW, as well as other festivals around the country. We’re looking forward to welcoming some of the cast and crew of these projects to Bloomington this summer, so there will be no shortage of talented filmmakers to meet at this year’s fest.

These are just our featured films- we still have plenty of programming space left, so submit your films by April 15.

THE FITS- Anna Rose Holmer

[THE FITS is a psychological portrait of 11-year-old Toni—a tomboy assimilating to a tight-knit dance team in Cincinnati’s West End. Enamored by the power and confidence of this strong community of girls, Toni eagerly absorbs routines, masters drills, and even pierces her own ears to fit in. When a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team, Toni’s desire for acceptance is twisted.]

The Hollywood Reporter writes in a review: “Refreshingly, the writer-director declines to draw the usual picture of poverty, drugs, crime and lack of parental supervision that often seems obligatory with a low-income urban setting. Instead, the film remains tightly focused on Toni as she filters and processes her experiences in an environment both familiar and foreign to her.

Some of the cast and crew will visit Bloomington to share their experience of making the film with the Middle Coast audience.

MA- Celia Rowlson-Hall

This film uses no dialogue and modern dance to tell the story of a modern day virgin Mary, traveling to Las Vegas to give birth.

Variety raves: “Ma” is a specialty item even by festival standards, and yet without so much as uttering a word, this microbudget labor of love augurs an exciting new voice.

 

THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK- Joel Potrykus

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[Young outcast Sean has isolated himself in a trailer in the woods, setting out on alchemic pursuits, with his cat Kaspar as his sole companion. Filled with disdain for authority, he’s fled the daily grind and holed up in the wilderness, escaping a society that has no place for him. But when he turns from chemistry to black magic to crack nature’s secret, things go awry and he awakens something far more sinister and dangerous.]

Indie Wire flagged the film as a “hidden gem” in this year’s SXSW lineup, and we love supporting filmmaker Joel Potrykus because he’s a midwest filmmaker, based in Grand Rapid, MI.

LADY PARTS- Katrina Day

We are so excited to screen episodes from the hilarious web series, Lady PartsThis feminist look at the film industry pokes fun at the sexist realities of being a woman trying to make it in the entertainment industry.

Director of the series and NYC based actress Katrina Day started a Tumblr to chronicle the sexist casting calls she found, and it morphed into the web series. The series is one of those that you’ll just binge and binge because each episode is short and funny, but in the way that that jokes are so true it’s better to laugh to keep from crying.

Day plans to attend the festival so get ready for a hilarious Q&A with this talented filmmaker.

THE PROCEDURE- Calvin Reeder

This short film is about a man forced to endure an experiment, and no big deal, it won the award for Best U.S. Fiction Short Film at SUNDANCE.

Director Calvin Reeder has experienced a lot of success with his films that defy the normal genres. His films showcase a mix of horror, existential themes and lo-fi cinematography, making his work truly unique.

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Need A List Of Diverse Films Released This Year?

The discussion around the lack of diversity in Hollywood dominated the 88th Academy Awards Sunday. Host Chris Rock and other Hollywood elite spoke out against the fact spoke out against the fact that we aren’t seeing people of color, women or scripts that tell unique stories represented at the awards show.

As an independent film festival, we put a lot of energy into choosing our programming to allow diversity in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, subject of story and location. We think it’s boring if every film at Middle Coast tells a similar story with similar characters, which is why you can expect to see the best of all genres and artists at our festival.

Our staff took on the issue in a short film we called #OscarSoWhite:

 

This conversation was EVERYWHERE leading up to Sunday’s show, but did you find yourself saying “yea, there were surely a lack of diversity, but what deserving artists and films weren’t on the list?”

 

Here’s our list of some of our favorite films from last year that weren’t recognized last night.

Beasts of No Nation

This film is phenomenal and Idris Elba’s performance was stellar. He would have been a competitive nominee in an acting category.

Chi-Raq

Spike Lee’s politically driven films often don’t fare well during awards season, but Chi-Raq’s cast gave some great performances, especially previous Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. That characters in this commentary on gun violence in Chicago’s South side will definitely draw you in.

Tangerine

This comedy stars two trans-gender actresses who tell the hilarious story of female friendship through the lens of confronting a cheating boyfriend. Actress Mya Taylor has gotten so much love in the independent film world, including a Film Independent Spirit award for best supporting actress. This was our audience favorite at the 2015 festival and we hope films like this will eventually break into the mainstream.

Sicario

 

First of all, this movie is just so good for many reasons- fantastic script, great acting and superb cinematography. Before the Oscar nominations were announced, there was a lot of talk of Bencio Del Toro being nominated for supporting actor for his complex portrayal of a Mexican ex-prosecutor helping the FBI with a cartel investigation.

Ex-Machina

Ex-Machina won an Oscar for its visual effects, but Guatemalan born Oscar Issac should have been on the list for Best Actor for his chilling performance in this science fiction thriller. He also got no recognition for Inside Llewyn Davis where he showed a different side to his acting range.

Creed

Michael B. Jordan’s performance in Creed was intense, dynamic and a lot more interesting than some of the nominees. We hope to see this talented actor get recognition eventually.

The Best Of The Big Screen In 2015

2015 was good to Middle Coast. We hosted our third and biggest festival yet, and met incredible filmmakers from around the world and shared their work with our beautiful community in Bloomington, Ind.

It was also a year that gave us plenty of fantastic films to watch- so many our festival director, Jessica Levandoski, had trouble narrowing down her list of favorites (seriously, there’s 29 films listed below).

Levandoski is a film producer and founder of our festival, and a bona fide film nerd. Here is her list of the best films of 2015.

Tangerine

Best Buddy Comedy of the Year! Far and away one of the most entertaining features of the year. This was a our feature film at Middle Coast this year. When I met the producer, Darren Dean at Indy Film Fest this summer, I couldn’t believe the stories he told me about making this film and had to get it in front of our audiences. Darren and his team are true indie filmmakers, they do whatever it takes to just get it done. Filmed entirely on an iPhone 5, this film follows two transgender workers through West Hollywood on Christmas Eve. God, I can watch this over and over and get something fresh out of it each time. LOVED THIS MOVIE. Do not be surprised by the numerous Academy Noms it receives.

We Are Still Here

Screened Middle Coast Fest, and pee your pants scary. Amazing effects, amazing performances, and a thrilling story line. It’s on 100’s of top 10 horror film lists and is having a hell of a screening run in Russia right now!

Song of the Sea

THE OBVIOUS AND ONLY CHOICE FOR ANIMATED FEATURE!!! This Irish film is a classic for kids and adults alike. Brilliant animations and a lovely story about sacrifice and love.

99 Homes

Starring Middle Coast Alum, Tim Guinee in a supporting role, this film shows you what happened from the ground up during the mortgage crisis. If this film had a larger marketing budget you would have heard more about it. It’s really a stellar film.

Meadowland

Feature directorial debut from cinematographer Reed Morano starring Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson. Holy Shit. Hard to watch. Hard to not watch. If you’ve ever dealt with grief, or wondering what it is like to deal with grief, this film takes you there and then some. It’s so beautiful. It’s so harsh. Reed is quietly making her mark in the film world, she knows what she’s doing. That’s all I can say.

The Comedians

This is episodic show is going to be one of those overlooked gems in a few years. Starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, this series dealt with EVERY issue in the industry and handled the topics with such wit and clever writing that I am not shocked it didn’t get picked up for a second season, because it thumbed it’s nose a bit too close to the truth behind the curtain. It’s a total must see, if only to watch Billy Crystal truly shine.

Mad Max: Fury Road

A heart pounding, teeth grinding, master class of suspense and visual story. You will see noms across the board for this film. Nice to know a lot of these FX were done with practicals too, so old schoolers (which the Academy mostly are) will get a kick out of this.

Ex Machina

What makes a person a person? Love? Conversation? Betrayal? Creativity? Dancing? A really cool film that you just must watch to fully understand. Most likely a nomination for effects and screenplay.

Carol

2015 female performances were just ridiculously good this year. Both Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchette steal your breath in this. Also to note, this was filmed entirely in the Midwest, in Cincinnati, so we are extremely partial to it. The Academy will be ALL OVER this one. It’s got everything they love.

Anomalisa

Strange, heady, and very clever. But what else would you expect from Charlie Kaufman? The stop-motion animation allows you to focus on the mundanity that would be overlooked in regular format.

Joy

Jennifer Lawrence plus David O.Russell equals always highly watchable and entertaining storytelling. JLaw’s performance made me want to start 3 more businesses. It’s a beautiful portrayal of what quiet power women hold as mothers who don’t settle for being just that.

Brooklyn

Heartwarming, lovely, and immaculately produced. I took my daughter to see this one. Saorise Ronan is a talent to watch.

45 years

Starring Charlotte Rampling (who almost made this list twice for the BBC series BROADCHURCH – so close)  this film is one of those amazingly stylish, and dreamlike views inside a marriage, and then BOOM! a secret is revealed and you wallow in the character’s anguish.

Son of Saul

I obviously have a thing for foreign cinema, but again, the Hungarians bring their A game. This is YET ANOTHER debut feature that will no doubt be in the Best Foreign Picture category at the Oscars.

Taxi

Hilarious, heart wrenching and honest. This Iranian film is a must see, simply because of the lengths this man had to go to to film it.

Mustang

Everyone should see this film. Debut from Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Eruguven will most likely win the Best Foreign Picture category.

It Follows

Throwback to the golden days of horror. Entertaining and loved the story of how these folks made the film. Possible nomination for sound mix.

What We Do in the Shadows

Does for Horror culture what Spinal Tap did for Rock culture. A hilarious must-see.

Sicario

…Or, the deep, dark hole that we humans dig and dig and dig and dig… Wow. Just do yourself a favor and WATCH. THIS. FILM.  Oscars will most likely nom this for Cinematography and Screenplay. Maybe a nom for Bencio Del Toro too.

Room

Watch this for Brie Larson’s performance alone, would not be surprised if she earns an Oscar nomination for this role.

Montage of Heck

Tells the sad story of Cobain’s brilliance and tragedy without getting caught up in the hoopla of his death. Best thing HBO did this year, far and away. This should earn a documentary nomination from the Academy.

Selma

Director Ava Duvernay had a Barbie doll made in her likeness because of this film. Do her a favor and watch this film. Also to note, our American Actors need to step it up because a British Actor, David Oyelowo and Tom Wilkinson crushed their portrayals of two of America’s greatest leaders.


Grandma

Lily Tomlin, what else needs to be said?

Clouds of Sils Maria

Amazing to watch life imitate art. Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche nail these performances to the wall. KStew should earn a supporting role nomination.

Beast of No Nation

An essential reminder of how precious and fragile living a good, normal life really is. Love what Netflix is offering in terms of original programming.

White God

A heartbreaking revenge tale in the style of Milo & Otis. This Hungarian film is unlike anything else you will see for a long time.

James White

Director Josh Mond is someone I’ve been watching for a while, he and his film collective group based in NYC is doing amazing stuff. This film in particular is a heart breaker.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Even the most delicate of delusions can send us on the greatest adventures.

The Tribe

An unforgettable, violent, and dialogue free gangster picture that just so happens to take place in a boarding school for the deaf. Ukrainian Cinema is making a play for the top dramatic spot.  Definitely a contender for best foreign film at the Oscars.

Middle Coast’s Favorite ‘Holiday-ish’ Films

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It’s been 18 days since Thanksgiving, so if you’ve left your home or turned on TV you’re aware: Christmas spirit has been unleashed.

And unlike Christmas music, which can get a little stagnant, the amount of movies set around the holidays is almost ENDLESS.

So we’ve created a list of some of our favorites. We’re pretty loose with our definition of ‘holiday’ movie, and tried to avoid most of the classics because we know you’ll catch at least a few minutes of A Christmas Story during its 24 hour loop Christmas Day. We’re also not including It’s a Wonderful Life or any claymation flicks because that’s just too obvious. It might just be a movie we love that has a great holiday scene.

The criteria is a little atypical, but so is a film festival held in a small Indiana town that uses a flamingo for its logo.

So, in no particular order, the Middle Coast staff’s favorite holiday…ish films:

Die Hard

Merry Christmas, our gift to you is BRUCE WILLIS IN AN UNDERSHIRT SINGLE HANDEDLY FENDING OFF 12 TERRORISTS THAT KIDNAPPED HIS WIFE WHO ROCKS PERFECTION 1980s HAIR.

Tangerine

We LOVE the 2015 Middle Coast audience favorite award winner, Tangerine, for so many reasons. It was shot on an iPhone, stars transgender women and is getting tons of awards and, fingers crossed, Oscars buzz. It’s the story of Sin-Dee, a working girl who gets out of jail on Christmas Eve and spends the day looking for the woman her boyfriend Chester is cheating on her with. Netflix just released it, so if you missed it at the fest you should watch it there.

Diner

The holiday connection: takes place between Christmas and New Year’s. Why we love it? It’s a fun movie about childhood friends convening in their hometown for a wedding, and reflecting on growing up. Huge bonuses, Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke and Steve Guttenberg in their younger years.

Every Harry Potter Movie

Because Christmas looks MAJESTIC AS ALL GET OUT when portrayed in a magical universe on a multi-million dollar budget. Also, this scene taught us so much about British culture.

Jingle All The Way

Arnold Schwarzenegger could play the main character in a movie about Flag Day and it would be hilarious and make every holiday movie list ever.

Blast of Silence

This 1960s film noir classic about a hitman on assignment in NYC is film PRECISION.

 

The Godfather: Part II

YEA WE KNOW WE’RE WAY TO INTO VIOLENCE AND CHRISTMAS. But you know this is one of the finest films out there, and there’s a Christmas tree in this scene so of course it’s on the list.

Serendipity

Ok, we admit, this movie is a tad cheesy (but at least we didn’t put Love Actually on here). But I figured we could use a break from people shooting each other during the happiest time of the year and maybe two people finding love over a book and leather gloves is exactly what we needed.But admit it, everyone had a crush on Kate Beckinsale (duh) or John Cusack (if you were into alternative dudes in the 80s/90s).

The Apartment

This office Christmas party is bananas! Our inspiration for next year’s festival after parties.

Mixed Nuts

The story of the employees of a crisis hotline at Christmas? The best plot line ever and then you add Steve Martin, so PUT IT ON THE LIST.

Bad Santa

The movie that exactly epitomizes what we think mall Santas are like.

Elf

I mean, this film is the new Christmas classic and on TV all the time, but think back to the first time you watched Will Ferrell demand to meet the real Santa and experience the “best cup of coffee” in the world. It was hilarious.

Visiting Bloomington? Here’s Your Festival Weekend Guide

View from the Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Bloomington, Ind.  (Photo by James Brosher)

View from the Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Bloomington, Ind. (Photo by James Brosher)

Part of the reason why Middle Coast is such a great event is because our local community in Bloomington will sit side by side with filmmakers from around the world to enjoy fantastic films.

If you’re coming from out of town we want to help make your visit to Bloomington the best it can be. Here’s some tips for the best meals, drinks and experiences. Here are our suggestions to get the most out of your trip to our little Midwestern oasis.

Most of these suggestions keep you within walking distance of film venues, SpringHill Suites and downtown.

 

FOOD

Fourth Street ethnic options: restaurants serving authentic Korean, Thai, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Burmese and Indian food.

Vegetarian/Vegan: The Owlery, Rainbow Bakery

Upscale: Uptown Café, Farm, Malibu Grill, Restuarant Tallent, Finch’s Brasserie

Pubs: Irish Lion, Nick’s English Hut, Trojan Horse

Breakfast: The Runcible Spoon, Uptown Cafe, Village Deli, Scholar’s Bakehouse

Food Truck Fridays: For a quick bite in between screenings Friday, head over to The Chocolate Moose where all of the local food trucks congregate from 11 a.m. until into the evening. (And don’t forget a scoop of Grasshopper ice cream while you’re there!)

 

DRINK

Cocktails: Uptown Café, Cardinal Spirits, Scholar’s Inn

Local Beers: Quaff On Brewery, Upland Brewery, Function Brewing, The Tap

Coffee: Scholar’s Bakehouse, Soma Coffeehouse, Uel Zing, Pour House

Bars: The Bishop, The Atlas Ballroom, The Root Cellar, Dunkirk Upstairs, Kilroy’s on Kirkwood,

ACTIVITIES

Need a break from the screens and looking for other stuff to do?

 

FOR MORE DETAILS AND HAPPENINGS in Bloomington visit www.visitbloomington.com.

While you’re out and about exploring our town, pop in your earbuds and listen to music from artists managed by local record label, Secretly Group (seriously, Bon Iver and Major Lazer’s label is based in Bloomington!)

Meet The Middle Coast Crew: Jessica Reed

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We’re less than a week away from the festival, and the team behind Middle Coast is getting excited to meet the filmmakers and festival goers. But before then, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know us and why putting on this festival in Bloomington is so important to our team.

Jess Reed is the woman who makes sure this festival is running smoothly. She’s the Jack Donaghy to our TGS, constantly looking at the big picture with the perfect amount of sass. She’s been voted ‘Best Jessica’ two years in a row, is probably in the running for best pet mom, and knows everything about everything. Meet Jess Reed:

Age you feel like

Forever 21

What’s your position at Middle Coast?

Administrative Director

What is your role as a human being on Earth?:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway. – Eleanor Roosevelt 

Who is your celebrity doppleganger and how do you relate to her?

Say Ellen Barkin ONE MORE TIME.

Favorite Film Ever and WHY

The Godfather Part II. Everything about it is perfect. It’s the one movie that I watch every year on Christmas Day.

Favorite Local Bloomington Spots

My life mostly takes place in a 5 block radius. The things I love in Bloomington are Malibu Grill, Cardinal Spirits, Bloomingfoods, The Alley Bar, Bloomington Playwrights Project, and the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival.

Complete the MadLib

Watching movies is usually a brilliant (EMOTION) experience for me. When I’ve had a delicious (ADJ) day at work, I like to crab walk (VERB) home, put on my black EVERYTHING (ITEM OF CLOTHING), grind (VERB) some snacks and load up my Netflix queue.

Sometimes my saucy (ADJ) significant other wants to join me, which is fine, but often I want to enjoy a film alone. There’s something about the way the plot zips (VERB-present tense) me, the music melts (VERB- present tense), and the dialogue slaps me in the coccyx (BODY PART).

This deep connection to film is why I am involved in Middle Coast, and I can’t wait to hydrate (VERB) my love of film with you at this year’s festival.

Q&A With Filmmaker Katie Cokinos

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When filmmaker Katie Cokinos sat down to write the screenplay for I Dream Too Muchher husband and filmmaking partner, Alex Rappoport, gave her one request: write a movie that could be shot in their hometown of Saugerties, New York.

The film, intended to be a convenient project for the couple, ended up turning into a feature length film produced by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) and starring Diane Ladd (Chinatown, Christmas Vacation) and Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black).

Cokinos will attend Middle Coast to speak during two panel discussions: one talking about women in the film industry and the other on how to make a great film with whatever resources you have.

A little about Cokinos and the making of I Dream Too Much:

How did you write the film around the setting of your hometown?

[I asked] what characters would be in Saugerties in the dead of winter because our winters are pretty bad. So that’s when I started developing the idea of a young girl having to come up North, but why is she coming up here? Well, I decided she was coming up her to take care of her great aunt.

How did you decide to write a coming of age film?

And so it slowly, without having the intention of it, it slowly started becoming a coming of age film. And when I realized that I immediately rented a lot of coming of age films to see how it’s done. I realized there weren’t a lot of female coming of age films. It’s mostly guys, so I slowly turn to Jane Austen, so that’s why it feels like it has a Jane Austen feel to it.

What is it like working on films with your husband?

We had a three week shoot, which is very short, but I think the reason we were able to do it is because I’m married to my Director of Photography. He knows the script as well as I do so we were able to move at a very fast pace, which is really helpful on low budget films when you don’t have a lot of time.

Why was it important to you to create a coming of age movie focused on a young woman?

I’m just very inspired by women and female characters. Creating in the movie medium a female story is just always inspiring and still is. I think we need to make room for women in a field dominated by men.

Meet The Middle Coast Crew: Claire McInerny

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As the festival date gets closer and closer, the team behind Middle Coast is getting excited to meet the filmmakers and festival goers. But before then, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know us and why putting on this festival in Bloomington is so important to our team. Over the next few weeks we’ll introduce you to the group of women putting on the festival.

Claire McInerny is the girl who’s making sure Middle Coast is on all your feeds, and a poet in 140 characters. She’s got a gif for every situation and hopes that makes her mother proud. A few things to know about our social media maven.

Age you feel like

Usually, 62. When my back is hurting, 75.

What is your position at Middle Coast?

Public Relations/Social Media Director

What is your role as a human being on Earth?

To make sure everyone know that this happened.

Who is your celebrity doppleganger and how do you relate to her?

I look like Connie Britton, and hope to one day be as bad a bitch as Tammy Taylor. But Illana from Broad City and I would have a great time if we had a Saturday afternoon together.

Favorite Film Ever and WHY

I could watch High Fidelity over and over. I love the concept that every relationship in your life has a purpose and teaches you something important going forward. I watch this movie every few years and relate to a different break up each time. I’m also completely, 100% obsessed with Bruce Springsteen and he appears in a dream to John Cusack’s character to play guitar in his bedroom. The soundtrack is also fun and nostalgic and one of my favorites out there.

Favorite Local Bloomington Spots

Landlocked Music, AZ Vintage, The Bishop Bar, Uel Zing Coffee.

Complete the MadLib: 

Watching movies is usually an elating (EMOTION) experience for me. When I’ve had a frilly (ADJ) day at work, I like to smash (VERB) home, put on my bloomers (ITEM OF CLOTHING), squish (VERB) some snacks and load up my Netflix queue.

Sometimes my sparkly (ADJ) significant other wants to join me, which is fine, but often I want to enjoy a film alone. There’s something about the way the plot gallop (VERB-present tense) me, the music twitch (VERB- present tense), and the dialogue slaps me in the pancreas (BODY PART).

This deep connection to film is why I am involved in Middle Coast, and I can’t wait to provide (VERB) my love of film with you at this year’s festival.

Maverick: The Middle Coast Spirit Animal

There’s a reason everyone has a favorite movie. It’s the same reason that an audience filing out of a theater after a great film is buzzing with conversation.

Because film is personal.

It shows us slices of the world we don’t know about. It introduces us to characters that act as mirrors to our own lives or portals into someone else’s. It puts heartbreak and impossible decisions in our face. It brings us together, in a flock of captivated subjects.

That flock is here, in the middle of the country, at Middle Coast.

We’re creating a celebration of all things film here in Bloomington, showcasing our local talent and welcoming filmmakers from across the country into our colony.

A colony of flamingos.

Why flamingos? Well, if our festival had a spirit animal, it is undoubtedly the flamingo. It’s a coastal bird but doesn’t need the ocean. A flamingo can most definitely fly, but is often content on land. It thrives in groups, often helping other flamingo raise their children.

It is everything Middle Coast is. Pulling talent and projects from the coast to the middle of the country, and congregating to celebrate a common love of film.

We wanted to introduce you to Middle Coast’s specific flamingo, our boy Maverick. He’s a badass, like his namesake, and the symbol that pulls the festival together. Look for him around town during the festival and in the weeks leading up.

Behold, your guide to all things Middle Coast, Maverick the flamingo.

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Maverick has taken over our snapchat account, chronicling his landing in Bloomington. Catch up with him by following our account @middlecoastfest. 
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