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Lights, Camera, Action! Behind the Scenes of The Milwaukee Film Festival

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Maggie, Off Campus

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Grab your cameras and undeveloped film because it’s festival time in Milwaukee! Film festivals are a way of showing authentic films that may not have had a wide critical release to the public.  These festivals serve as a way to expand the horizons of audiences by exposing them to often underrated films, and in doing so, the festivals may even help these small-budget projects one day go beyond the success and circulation of commercial blockbusters. Just a couple of years ago, Milwaukee started their own film festival, and thus far the event has been a huge success. This year, the Milwaukee Film Festival took place in early October.

The Milwaukee film festival was founded in 2009, and it originally had a very limited selection of films, which were only showed at the venue for no longer than two days. Now, the two week long festival takes place across many venues in the city and features over 300 films from a variety of backgrounds. Lots of films that are shown are from lesser known American directors, but in the past few years, they have expanded to show more international films as well. This film festival now represents movies from over 50 countries, which is a pretty large number when compared with the variety at other festivals. The eventful two weeks were filled with over 150 events, like post-screening discussions, panel conversations with over 250 filmmaker guests, parties, and many more gatherings.

Since its beginning, the festival has expanded tremendously and currently has over 350 sponsors and partners in the Milwaukee community. This year, over 70,000 people from all over attended the festival, ranking the event as one of the biggest film festivals in America. Back in 2015, the team behind Milwaukee Film festival began a process to see where they are ranked between other film festivals around the country, as they were anxious to see how they could improve. They found out through lots of research that they were placed as a top 10 film festival in the US in numerous categories. Even though this festival is already extremely successful,  it is only going to expand more and become even better in the years to follow.

Film festivals can be perceived as events that are specialized for a more mature audience, so how can St. Robert students get involved in the action? Milwaukee Film Festival also screens some educational films, documentaries, and even a few child friendly productions. For older students, some of the more mature films may be deemed appropriate through discussion with their parents, and it is nice to know that there is always something for everybody. For example, eighth grader Cat Lacy experienced the festival. “I liked it because it was a unique experience with very well done movies that were very thoughtful and heartwarming,” she says.

Lots of these films are more like art pieces than the films students are used to. These films are made by artists who have thought carefully about the message being shared and the films serve many different purposes besides just providing entertainment. Many people, even adults, are often not quite fond of these movies that have more abstract plots or surreal elements, but Milwaukee Film Festival offers a wider variety for all viewers. Also, exposing the next generation to artistic and foreign films could help moviegoers be open to different cultures and expand their horizons when it comes to choosing a film. Similarly, any exposure to lesser known films could spark a love for filmmaking and influence aspiring filmmakers to look into movie making as a full time career in the future  Residents of Milwaukee are privileged to have this event so close by to give people a place to go for fun or for educational purposes.

Milwaukee has certainly expanded in its uniqueness and culture thanks to such an exceptional film festival that is ranked as one of the best in America. Everyone, including the students of St. Robert, should take advantage of this awesome opportunity to expand movie horizons and enjoy themselves while doing it!

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Lights, Camera, Action! Behind the Scenes of The Milwaukee Film Festival