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Milwaukee International Short Film Festival Returns Virtually With New Programming

Milwaukee International Short Film Festival
The Milwaukee International Short Film Festival returns virtually Sept. 10-12 with 51 new films in its lineup featuring new and returning filmmakers.

Last year, the Milwaukee International Short Film Festivalpresented a “best-of” showcase virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Starting on September 10, the festival returns virtually, but now with 51 new films in its lineup featuring new and returning filmmakers.

"It's a very strong lineup and I think there's something for everyone," says Ross Bigley, the Milwaukee International Short Film Festival director and founder.

With many things still unknown as the pandemic continues, Bigley says that the films are a combination of those previously submitted for the 2020 festival and more recent material.

"This year was a little different because a lot of our films that are in the festival came through our final deadline ... All of a sudden all of this great work started coming in and we [couldn't] just ignore this stuff," says Bigley.

There was also a substantial rise in the number of local filmmaker submissions according to Bigley — what typically made up only about 10 percent of submissions rose to about 57 percent. "And that doesn't mean that we're getting less submissions internationally, it just means more local filmmakers are submitting to us than ever before," he explains. "And I think that's a good thing because more submissions means you're getting a broader, diverse selection of films coming in."

Bigley notes that the accessibility of recording and editing equipment during the pandemic has helped give filmmakers of all backgrounds a voice and greater access to more audiences and platforms.

He admits that while he thinks virtual film festivals can be "a little on the cold side," he tried to make the virtual experience a little more personal through sharing meet-the-filmmaker conversations to supplement the in-person audience Q&A experience.

Films to look forward to on Bigley's list include: "Naval Gazers" by Kimmy Gatewood, "Lancaster Park" by Lynda Reiss, "Dusters," a western shot in Australia by local filmmaker Noel Vinson, and "An Essential Voice - Eric Von" by Lashondra Scott & Colin Sytsma.

Even though many of the new films submitted this year were made during the pandemic, Bigley says it was refreshing how few of them fell into the "pandemic diaries" category.

"Oddly enough there were films that were shot during the pandemic and they did not choose to tell a pandemic story. They chose to tell something that was burning within them, that they had passion about, and that was good," he says.

You can watch the Milwaukee International Short Film Festival September 10-12 through RokuTV on the Eventive Channel or through the Eventive website. Program blocks will be released every day and all will be available through Sunday September 12 at 11 p.m.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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