Home Milwaukee More than 300 films from 61 countries playing at Milwaukee Film Festival

More than 300 films from 61 countries playing at Milwaukee Film Festival

"String Theory: The Richard Davis Method"

The Milwaukee Film Festival returned this month with a slate of more than 300 films from 61 countries, now playing through April 25th. 

Now in its 16th year, the festival features a selection of short film collections, documentaries, and narrative films. 

Some of this year’s offerings include the Oscar-nominated documentary Four Daughters, the critically acclaimed Mexican drama, titled Tótem, and String Theory: The Richard Davis Method, a film about the legendary bassist and retired UW-Madison professor.

“I think Milwaukee Film Festival is so special because we are trying to dispel the myth that movies are only made on the coast,” programmer Marquise Mays said.

Mays coordinates the Black Lens program, which explores the stories, topics, and histories shared throughout the Black diaspora. This year is the 10th anniversary of the program. Mays shared his excitement about All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, a film that follows one Black woman’s upbringing in rural Mississippi and how the film reminds him of Black Milwaukeeans’ southern roots.

“We always try to highlight any sort of local film or local connections,” Cine Sin Fronteras programmer Ernie Quiroz said. 

Cine Sin Fronteras, or Cinema Without Borders in English, shows films that explore and unpack issues surrounding the Latinx diaspora, including stories from the Chicanx, Latin American, Indigenous, and Afro-Latinx communities.

”There is a Hispanic and local population in Milwaukee, do whatever we can to have filmmakers come out,” Quiroz said.

In addition to filmmakers, the festival also invites documentary participants and community leaders for discussions about certain topics and themes featured in the films shown. 

“I think the goal for an audience member is understanding the hopes of the person who made the film,” artistic director Cara Ogburn said.

As a programmer, Quiroz thinks of his job as giving filmmakers a platform. 

“I’m not the voice on the megaphone. I give the megaphone to them,” he said.

Quiroz also called Milwaukee Film Festival by far is one of the most diverse programs he’s been a part of.

”One of the great things about the festival is that there are five theaters throughout the city,” Quiroz said.

This year, there are screenings at the Downer Theatre, Milwaukee Film’s Oriental Theatre,  and two other local theaters, the Avalon Theater and the Times Cinema.

Ogburn explained the goal of the festival has always been to serve Milwaukee great films which include unique and diverse perspectives within every genre. She also encourages others to check out films they haven’t heard of before. 

“The Milwaukee audience is curious and loves cinema and loves different kinds of cinema. That’s why we have an audience that is this big,” Ogburn said.

Last year, the festival saw a 58-percent increase in in-person attendance from the previous year’s, 29,718 people attended compared to 18,734 attendees at the 2022 festival.

“Unlike going to the multiplex, one of the things is that you get to be engaged.”