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Film festival features 1970s story of UW-Madison student/prostitute accused of murder

The annual Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison will feature a story that strikes close to home.

The "Winter of Frozen Dreams" will premiere during the festival on Saturday.

It's the story of Barbara Hoffman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison student who moonlighted as a prostitute at a massage parlor and was accused of killing two clients in the 1970s for their money.

Thora Birch of "American Beauty" plays Hoffman, and Keith Carradine stars as the detective who investigated the case.

Gov. Jim Doyle was the Dane County district attorney who prosecuted Hoffman and he's portrayed in the movie, too.

Doyle calls it a fascinating case about the other side of life in a university town.

He encouraged his friend Karl Harter to write a book about the case in 1990, and that's what inspired the movie.

Doyle and Harter will attend Saturday's showing. It was sold out in 20 minutes so Sundance Cinemas in Madison agreed to show it for a week starting April 10.

Meg Hamel, who heads up the Wisconsin Film Festival, said jurors and officers on the case also wanted tickets for Saturday.

They wanted to see how it was resolved on the screen.

The book, meanwhile, is flying off Madison's bookstores. And all 28 copies at the city library are checked out, too.