Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Aug. 27, 2014
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Now in its 16th year, the Milwaukee Short Film Festival is dedicated to providing a showcase for short subjects. The focus was always on Milwaukee, but in recent years programming has assumed a more international character.


“It’s getting difficult,” says festival director Ross Bigley, speaking to the challenge of picking from so many selections—especially the local ones from filmmakers he has gotten to know personally. Of the 500 submissions for 2014, some 50 made the final cut. “You don’t want to sit through two hours of short dramas. That would be exhausting!” he says. “We try to have a program that flows, with both comedy and drama. Part of the process is deciding which films are compatible with each other.”


A highlight of this year’s MSFF is the Wisconsin premiere of actor Luke Wilson’s droll quasi-documentary “Satellite Beach,” about a man who thinks he’s in charge of escorting the retired space shuttle Endeavor to its final resting place. Other films of note include “Billy Balfoor,” directed by Australia’s Grant Wilson from a play by Milwaukee’s Jeff Ircink (which has been performed at Alchemist Theatre). Other technically non-Milwaukee films have Cream City ties. Milwaukee expatriate Michael Chmiel’s “Clean Break,” a horror parody, was shot in New York City. Milwaukee’s Jozef K. Richards filmed “A Garden within the Violence” in Columbia.


Notable foreign shorts include “Oh My Princess” by South Korea’s Heewok Sa, wherein a cabbie gradually discovers that his passenger is having an unsettling cell phone conversation with his daughter; and Baqir Rezaie’s “At a Distance,” a documentary about a girl growing up in Palestine.


Capping each day at the festival is a screening of the lone long feature, Bigley’s Zombie Frat House. The film features one hundred zombie extras plus 40 Milwaukee actors with speaking parts, including such well knowns as Bo Johnson, Brian Miracle and Dan Katula, and newcomers such as Anieya Walker and Kyle Berg. “It’s a cross between Animal House and The Walking Dead,” Bigley explains. “It’s made to be a pure genre film. It’s bloody and gory and has a bit of nudity in it. We hope it’s funny.”


The Milwaukee Short Film Festival begins at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 5 and 12:45 p.m., Sept. 6 at the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Lubar Auditorium, 700 N. Art Museum Dr. For more information, go to





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