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The Milwaukee International Short Film Festival celebrates its 24th year in-person at Avalon Theater

The Milwaukee International Short Film Festival is the longest-running film festival that honors local filmmaking. This year marks its 24th festival, and on Sept. 10, 34 films will be shown in person at the Avalon Theater in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. Seventy-five percent of these films are by Wisconsin filmmakers, and 32 of them will also be Milwaukee premiers.

Ross Bigley, the festival's founder and director, says the key area of growth over more than two decades is the change in film submissions and a change in the film community, where diversity has become more and more prominent.

"Nothing could take away from the filmmakers we've had before, but it was literally just mostly men making films in college," he notes. "And now you're seeing a lot more female filmmakers — half our lineup is female filmmakers — you're seeing a lot more diversity, you're seeing the LTGBQ community making films, people of color making films. It's really changed, and having a different perspective, you're not seeing the same type of films anymore and that's a good thing."

All films will be shown over the course of the day, including those in the 7th year of the Voices Heard Program that showcases local filmmakers of color. This year the festival is also hosting local businesses of color inside of the Avalon Theater.

Bigley notes that Marquette University educators and filmmakers Kristin Holodak and Melody Herr will be honored with the "Pace-setter Award." Each has incorporated students into their project called "Diffraction," — a feature film shot on Marquette's campus to teach the students how to produce a film from start to finish.

"It's what the Pace-setter is about — it's furthering film and getting other people involved... They're using all these departments at Marquette to give [students] experience on how to get ahead in the film world," says Bigley.

The full programming for the Milwaukee Short Film Festival is broken into three sections: Voices Heard at 4 pm, followed by Juried Pt. 1 at 6:30 pm, and Juried Pt. 2 at 9:15 pm with an afterparty at the Tonic Tavern.


Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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