By Dylan Deprey
The stories from the 53206 are plentiful, but tragic. Some include talent and passion yet end with family behind bars and in caskets. Some stories have hope, but when home is a war zone, the plot thickens.
Milwaukee’s 53206 was a tale of many stories, and filmmaker and Mz.Kim Productions owner, Kimberley T. “Mz.Kim” Zulkowski, had tasked herself with sharing them. She combined her passion for revitalizing her neighborhood with showcasing its stories with the world.
Along with a cast of local talent and producers, Kulkowski had brought the story to life, as “53206: Milwaukee,” hosted its world premiere at the 8th annual Charlotte Black Film Festival on April 6, 2017.
The film was inspired by true stories and events from the 53206. It explores a Milwaukee that is known as one of the worst cities for black people to live, and where violence, segregation, poor education and high poverty rates are met with even higher incarceration rates.
“53206: Milwaukee” follows Robbie (Imani Brown), a talented singer aspiring for a career outside her city but struggles to decide between her dream to attend Julliard and her passion to bring peace to her community. But, when neighbors and classmates are stuck between an education and the streets, and neighbors are lost to violence, it makes the decision even harder.
“We are ten times more likely to get shot here than any other city, so we are just trying to let people know what we go through every single day,” said Imani Brown. “And Robbie has experienced lots of deaths in regard to gun violence, and I have as well.”
Zulkowski produced, wrote and directed the film along with production from Stephen Gregory Curtis and local advocate Tory Lowe, as well as co-production by Joshua Nickel and Rubin Whitmore.
Zulkowski said she wanted to showcase local talent and casted actors and actresses, who for some was there first time acting. Some of the local talent included: Carnelious Gill, Terrell Lewis, Dinah Williams, Paulos Hughes, and Erick “EP” Perkins.
Perkins is a local rapper and entertainer that uses his talents to spread positivity to the youth across Milwaukee. Having grown up surrounded by violence while living homeless on the streets as a youth, he was able to channel his story to inspire those in similar situations.
“I am blessed to be a part of something like this,” Perkins said. “It’s like an eye opener, it makes you realize that our community needs to grow as a whole, and to make it better for the kids growing up here.”
In the film, Perkins plays Oscar, an emotional young adult who is very caring for his loved ones, but cautious to the violent streets.
“It was so real and so easy to reenact something I grew up around,” Perkins said. “It was such an inspiration to perform in a film that so many people can relate to.”
All profits from the film will go towards philanthropic efforts in assisting Milwaukee’s communities that suffer from epidemic violence. Some of the efforts will include, children’s educational programs, peace rallies, funeral funding for homicide victims and many others.
Along with the world premiere, “52306: Milwaukee” was also selected as a contender for the 5th Annual Las Vegas Black Film Festival, which is set for April 26-29.
“53206: Milwaukee will showcase Milwaukee talent,” Zulkowski said. “I’m excited to show the world what is going on in our community.”