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William Phelps and Kara Hakanson star in her film "Fifteen."

A Baraboo native’s debut movie will be screened next month at the Driftless Film Festival in Mineral Point.

Kara Hakanson wrote, directed, produced and starred in “Fifteen,” a coming-of-age comedy. The independent short delivers a realistic — and comedic — story of a girl losing her virginity.

“I’m incredibly proud and happy with how it turned out,” Hakanson said.

The film has been a three-year project for the 2011 Baraboo High School graduate. She has submitted “Fifteen” to 20 festivals. It has been accepted to two so far.

Of those, the Driftless Film Festival is the closest to home. It will put “Fifteen” on the big screen at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Mineral Point Opera House. It’s one of six films in the Wisconsin Shorts category.

“My mom’s my plus-one,” Hakanson said.

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Editing finished in August. Although the Driftless marks the film’s first festival, it has been shown before. Hakanson said feedback from first-time viewers has been invaluable, as the project is so personal for her, and has been part of her life for so long.

“There’s no way I can watch it with an unbiased eye,” she said. “It’s so nice to get feedback on it.”

Hakanson left college to pursue film, moving to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming an actress. After a year and half there, sleeping on friends’ couches and reading for the role of the main character’s best friend, she followed the advice of people who encouraged Hakanson to write roles for herself. A year later, she finished the “Fifteen” script.

She returned to the University of Minnesota to study film and lay the groundwork for producing her movie. She has learned that producing an independent film is a full-time job, one that’s not lucrative but still rewarding.

Viewers have told her “Fifteen” is honest and relatable. “They’re really touched by the story,” Hakanson said. “That’s been heartwarming.”

“They loved it,” she said. “They laughed where I hoped they would laugh.”

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter

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