Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Change the Conversation

For today's blog we have invited Blyth Renate Meier, Producer of "Changing The Conversation: America's Gun Violence Epidemic," to interview the Director Janet Fitch.

Blyth Renate Meier, Producer: How did you get involved in the gun violence issue?

Janet Fitch, Director and Executive Producer:
I've always been active in the Milwaukee community, and when I heard some women friends were heading to the Million Mom March for sensible gun laws in Washington, DC, I knew I wanted to get a crew together to document it. The people I met on that journey and the stories they told me inspired me to dig deeper on this issue and explore it through local, national and state lenses. That was in 2000, and this film completes the 3-part Guns, Grief and Grace in America series. Midway through the process I learned about the concept of reframing discussion to a public health focus on prevention, and from that point on, I've remained extremely optimistic about that possibility.

BRM: What makes you think this kind of massive shift can be made in the public mindset?

JF: When compared with the current conversation - who can argue against this? I really believe people will want to be engaged with a common sense, non-political approach based on medical facts. I am also hopeful because in Milwaukee we have a broad coalition of people working to change this conversation. Across race, age, class and gender, people are beginning to come together to ask what they can do about this problem. Hope expands with this fresh, non-polarized approach so everyone can take their own next steps to further the discussion, and find solutions.

Janet Fitch & Blyth Renate Meier will be in attendance at the 9/30 screening of Changing the Conversation: America’s Gun Violence Epidemic at 7:30pm at the North Shore Cinema.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

STORM on the Horizon

Today I am going to re-post a blog entry of mine from Day 3 of my visit to the Berlin International Film Festival.

Berlinale disrupted by "Storm."

German director Hans-Christian Schmid has cemented his place as a world-class filmmaker and raised the stakes with his latest fiction film, "Storm." Tackling an international justice issue at the heart of foreign relations in war torn regions around the World, we follow the trial of a war time commander of the Yugoslavian National Army at The Criminal Tribunal at The Hague.

Schmid has always possessed a natural ability to put you inside and on the edge of his characters skin, and now with "Storm" he proves that he can create an engaging political thriller.

The scripts greatest asset is that it treats the subject in full and does not create easy solutions or answers for dramatic effect. It brings up the right questions, even if it can't answer them all.

Made with the approval of the tribunal, the film showcases the court in all of its complexity. While doing justice to the people who work for the court, it also looks very closely at the court's purity. The tremendous pressure the judges and attorneys are under when a verdict against a past injustice has unwanted ramifications in the present is palpable throughout the film.

In the end, I merely hope that "Storm" will have a chance to be seen by more people than his previous effort, the criminally under-appreciated "Requiem."

STORM screens Tuesday, September 29, 7:30pm at Oriental Theatre at the Milwaukee Film Festival

Monday, September 28, 2009

We Live In Public

Milwaukee Film invited local Producer, Mark Foote of Flexible Films LLC to interview Ondi Timoner, director of the Milwaukee Film Festival Selection We Live in Public.

21 September 2009, Milwaukee, WI

Today, I spoke with Ondi Timoner, director of the award winning documentary We Live In Public, and I can assure you that over the last several months, she has gleaned some new insights into the meaning of her film for her audiences and our society at large. I realized that this story is about is a cautionary tale about how the internet can and is affecting most all of our lives. It is looking ten years back, when there was no broadband, and predicting a future where we could be exponentially caught in the virtual web." said Ondi.

Since winning the 2009 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Ondi has toured the world with this project. The film's web site, lists at least sixteen festivals where the film has screened, and Ondi has attended many of these premiers, including the Sydney and Melbourne Australia fests, and Karlovy Vary IFF in the Czech Republic, where she won the Special Jury Prize.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Alone in the Dark

New York Movie, Edward Hopper

When the 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival ends no one will have seen the same movie. Each of us will have our own experiences and interpretations of the more than 160 films screening in the festival.

This makes me wonder, how in the world can a festival be programmed to satisfy an entire city's population?

Maybe more importantly, with so many movies screening that you have never heard of before, how in the world can you decide which ones to see?

The answers are not as elusive as you may think. At the Milwaukee Film Festival we pride ourselves on the quality line-up of films we present at the festival. We travel the world scouting possible film selections, conduct arduous research in our office throughout the year and view countless hours of films as a staff to pick out several hundred titles, most of them already award winners, that are all worthy of festival selection. But we don't stop there.

Since May of this year, over 30 film lovers have been in our office viewing films on a weekly basis to sort through and select only the best possible films for our festival. This process makes us capable of not only screening award-winning films, but also films that can satisfy a diverse audience of movie goers.

As for deciding which films to see, well, check out the new section of our website, Team Picks, which will be updated daily throughout the end of the film festival with the favorites of several staff and Program Committee members.

See you at the movies!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Milwaukee Film Festival Trailer


On behalf of the Board, staff and supporters of Milwaukee Film a heartfelt thanks goes out to the incredible team who donated their talent, time and services to create the 2009 Milwaukee Film Festival Trailer.

Crew: Carlo Besasie, Jeff Faber, Mike Gillis, Patrick Haley, Dave Kiehl, Mike Krieger, Frankie Latina, Ryan Plato, Marko Stachniw, Chris Thompson, and Don Unverrich

Cast: Clay Covert, Cesar Gamino, Dan Grenda, Michael Hayden, Richard Lau, Lance Miller, Miles O'Neil, Ryan Plato, Nathan Polzin, Amanda Shalhoub, Nick Sommer, Jason Vollmer, and Lindsey Weigel

Companies: Blend Studios, Blue Moon Lighting, Film Tools, Flexible Films, Independent Studios, Kodak, Light Force of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Film Corps, and North American Camera