The Milwaukee Short Film Festival is the city's longest running film festival - 18 years thus far. It was the brainchild of Ross Bigley, who began by showing films at a local café with a projector.
The festival has grown a bit since then, but its focus is still on short films (15 minutes or less), which often don't get mainstream distribution.
This year's fest focuses on diversity and women in film making, featuring eight films directed by women, five produced or written by women and nine films offering a female perspective. Over 35 films will be shown this Friday and Saturday at Comedy Sportz in Walker's Point.
For Bigley, this year's selection was exceptional. "We normally get one or two film by women, but this year we just got buckets full," he says. "I'm not sure if it's a trend or maybe these filmmakers are now feeling the need to tell their own stories, or maybe they're not seeing their stories told."
Local filmmaker Karen Lindholm-Rynkiewicz's film, Venus Rising from the Undertow, is being featured this year. She says that the selection of films this year is a testament to women supporting each other in the industry. While she admits that female filmmakers would like to have a greater presence, the challenges presented to them have created "such a women's network built here in our community."
Outside of highlighting female filmmakers, Bigley has also dedicated a whole screening session to diverse local filmmakers. "There are now a lot more multicultural filmmakers in this city than there was three years ago," he explains. "There's a lot more people of color making films, and that's one of the things that we wanted to do with this program. We saw the sea change in that and these filmmakers we felt weren't being served, so we made 'Voices Heard.'"