Major kudos to the staff of the inaugural Milwaukee Film Festival for pulling off the best film fest this city has ever seen. As a long-time volunteer with various incarnations of film events in this city, this was the best experience I've ever had volunteering with any organization. As a long-time patron of various incarnations of film events in this city, this was the first time where I've had to agonize over the decision of which movie I'm going to go see because they're all such great picks.
I guess the success of this festival can be boiled down to how easily the starpower blended with us regular Milwaukee folks. The major funder of the previous film organization that I volunteered for (for several years) never ONCE humbled himself to thank the volunteers. The opening night of this festival my co-theatre manager and I ended up in a casual conversation with one of the staff members and Chris Abele, the major funder of Milwaukee Film and this festival. Mr. Abele was courteous to Mary and I, and thanked us for volunteering. It's wonderful to encounter donors who realize that it takes both donated money AND time for an event like this to succeed.
Of course another aspect of a film event is to make everyone who attends feel a little bit like they're part of the red carpet scene. Part of this is achieved through inviting bigger-name celebrities to appear alongside their independent film projects. At past film festivals, these folks (with the exception of the guy who played Puddy, Patrick Warburton) flew in, did their talkback, probably attended a VIP-only thing, and left. What a delightful surprise then, for the hundred or so of use who went to the closing ceremonies at Beans & Barley tonight to find ourselves in the company of a Hollywood legend. Martin Landau had been doing promos for his new film, Lovely, Still (which I unfortunately was unable to catch), but had no obligation to hang out with us commoners. It was so wonderful to see him just hanging out at the bar, chatting it up with local filmmakers. Said bar has been set damn high.
Impressive work Milwaukee Film staff. Well done. Now sleep!
I realize I still owe posts for The Milwaukee Showcase, The Milwaukee Show, Crude, The Life Over There, Favela on Blast, Gigante, and Precious (didn't make it to The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, and Kimjongilia was canceled). Look for those some time soon. After I sleep.
I did have time to complete a request I got on Twitter to create a guest post for another festgoer's blog. Tilney had a really creative idea to write a "what I learned" series for each film. Here's my guest piece: http://bit.ly/43g1WS