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Make it Short!

Milwaukee Short Film Festival programs local, minority and women directors

Sep. 6, 2016
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Now in its 18th year, the Milwaukee Short Film Festival is a good example of an annual event that has survived through persistence and grown as its presentation and programming have evolved. One thing is obvious to anyone who has followed the festival and the genre it represents: Short films have gotten shorter.

“In the last few years, articles have been written saying the best time for a short film is seven minutes,” explains the festival’s founder and co-director, Ross Bigley. “It’s the perfect running time for a simple idea—you don’t overstay your welcome. You can have a profound film that runs under 10 minutes.”

The quest for profundity finds expression in the festival’s “Voices Heard” programming track, focused on work by Milwaukee minority filmmakers. “They were not getting featured in other local festivals,” Bigley says. “I saw there was a large emerging number of black and Latino filmmakers in Milwaukee. They needed a platform.”

Although he didn’t set out to feature women directors, Bigley culled a chunk of this year’s programming from submissions by female filmmakers. “I get the sense that more women want to be in film—not just as actresses,” he says. “They’re not seeing the stories they want to see.” While Bigley is personally responsible for much of the festival, he also relied on a panel of judges, including Timothy J. Lonsdale, unit producer of Netflix’s “Stranger Things”; Wisconsin filmmaker Van Campbell II; and Dick Grunert, screenwriter for the Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time.”


The Milwaukee Short Film Festival runs Sept. 9-10 at ComedySportz, 420 S. First St. For more information, visit milwaukeeindependentfilmsociety.org



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