11-day celebration of cinema features 26 sell-outs, with attendance of 30,513
The second annual Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrapped up last night with the film Buried, selling out in all three theatres. The closing night film was the finale of a hugely successful second year for the Milwaukee Film Festival, with ticket sales increasing 50 percent from its inaugural festival last year.
“The turnout for and excitement about this year’s festival truly blew us away,” said Jonathan Jackson, Executive and Artistic Director for Milwaukee Film. “We knew we were putting on an incredible festival, but to see the crowds and hear the applause night after night just helped drive it home that what we’re doing really means something to the people of this community. It’s both humbling and very exhilarating.”
Special screenings and events throughout the festival heightened both the level of excitement by attendees as well as the caliber of the festival as a whole.
Festivities kicked off Sept. 23 with sold-out screenings of Blue Valentine, followed by an opening night gala at Discovery World attended by more than 2,000 people. Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon paid a visit Sept. 25 to accept a career achievement award from Milwaukee Film and to present a special screening of her film, Thelma and Louise.
The documentary that the whole country is talking about, Waiting for “Superman,” sold out fast Sept. 26 and was followed by a panel discussion on the education system that drew more than 300 people.
Next up were two performances by the world-renowned Alloy Orchestra, here to accompany the complete cut of the 1927 silent film Metropolis. The performances Sept. 28 and 29 were met with ecstatic crowds and standing ovations. The Take One: Milwaukee Children’s Film Festival made its debut this year, with films for children and their parents screening both weekends of the festival and meeting with rave reviews from people of all ages.
The lineup of the more than 160 films featured several U.S. premieres, including A Somewhat Gentle Man, starring Stellan Skarsgard and directed by Hans Petter Moland, and Rasmalai Dreams, directed by Milwaukee filmmaker Xav Leplae. The festival was also the second U.S. screening of the film which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Jury Award winners were announced Sunday:
A Brand New Life (Yeo-haeng-ja)
Director: Ounie Lecomte
Jurors: Florence Almozini (Curator BAMcinematek), Lars Knudsen (Producer: Cold Weather, Treeless Mountain, Old Joy) Scott Tobias (AV Club Editor)
$2,500 Cash Award
Director: Robin Hessman
Jurors: Barry Polterman (Director: The Life of Reilly, Editor: Collapse, The Pool), John Scheinfeld (Director: Who is Harry Nilsson, U.S. vs. John Lennon), Jack Turner (Producer: Lovely Still, Racing Dreams) $2,500 Cash Award
The Milwaukee Show
Director: Tate Bunker Jurors: Ericka Frederick (Kodak Executive), Ken Wardrop (Director: His & Hers) and Samuel Anderson (Producer: Lucky Life, Munyrangabo) $2,500 Cash Award; $20,000 + Production Prize Package; 1 Year Artist in Residency at Milwaukee Film
The Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Awards were tallied Monday and the winners are:
Waiting for “Superman”
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Best Short Film
Drunk History: Tesla & Edison
Director: Jeremy Konner
Finally, Milwaukee Film announced the creation of an Advisory Board of film industry professionals. The first members of the Advisory Board are Lars Knudsen, Chris Smith and Jack Turner.
“Our entire staff and board would like to thank our sponsors and partners, as well as everyone who came out to see a film or attend an event,” said Jackson. “We’re so proud of this year’s festival, and now we’re set to take a few deep breaths and jump right in getting plans started for the 2011 festival.”