Milwaukee Film
Press Release

Milwaukee Film Announces Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Grant

Festival Among 16 FilmWatch Grant Recipients; Received $10,000 in Cash for Black Lens Program

By - Apr 26th, 2016 07:00 am

MILWAUKEE – Tuesday, April 26, 2016 – Milwaukee Film received a $10,000 FilmWatch grant in support of its Black Lens Program from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Milwaukee Film is one of 16 FilmWatch grant recipients for the 2016-2017 grants year. The highly competitive FilmWatch grant program supports curated screening sections at North America-based film festivals, film societies, and other film-related organizations. A total of $205,000 was awarded in this category for the 2016-2017 grants year.

As part of the annual film festival, Milwaukee Film offers its Black Lens programming track, a selection of film programs exemplifying outstanding cinematic work by contemporary African American filmmakers. In 2015, Black Lens film screenings attracted a total audience of 3,288 (a 96% increase over 2014), with an estimated 28% African American attendees.

“Milwaukee Film receiving financial support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is an incredible honor. It is particularly meaningful that the support is directed toward our burgeoning Black Lens Program, which is a vital and rare showcase dedicated to exclusively presenting the work of African American directors,” says Jonathan Jackson, Milwaukee Film’s Artistic and Executive Director.

By foregrounding the work of emerging and established African American filmmakers annually in the film festival, Milwaukee Film’s goal is to provide an outlet that gathers a diverse audience of Milwaukeeans to discuss issues concerning African Americans through fictional and non-fictional film narratives – an important dialogue to have in a city with such ingrained segregation.

Black Lens co-programmer Geraud Blanks explains, “The grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences serves not only as national recognition of the important work being done by Milwaukee Film, but confirms initiatives such as Black Lens are an essential part of engaging diversity in a real and substantive way.”

The Black Lens Program provides festival-level exposure for African American filmmakers nationwide, while also serving a local audience who has limited access to critically-acclaimed films outside of mainstream circulation.

“Going into our third year, we are poised to contribute greatly to the Milwaukee Film Festival and to the city in general in terms of the films we want to screen, the filmmakers and actors we want to invite, and the conversations we want to generate,” says Black Lens co-programmer Donte McFadden.

Milwaukee Film is now accepting submissions for the 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival (September 22 – October 6). The entry form and complete information is available at

About Milwaukee Film
Mission: To entertain, educate, and engage our community through cinematic experiences.

Visit for information on the film festival, the organization, membership, special events, and to sign up for the weekly email newsletter. Connect with Milwaukee Film on Facebook (, Twitter (@mkefilm), and Instagram (@mkefilm).

About The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie related organization, comprised of 7,000+ accomplished men and women working in cinema. The Academy recognizes and upholds excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspires imagination, and connects the world through the medium of motion pictures.

About the Milwaukee Film Board of Directors
Milwaukee Film’s independent board is made up of the following members: Chris Abele (Past President); John P. Bania; Donna Baumgartner; Dr. Robert M. Davis; Michael Drescher; Karen Ellenbecker; Jeff Fitzsimmons; Alexander P. Fraser; Cecelia Gore; Bill Haberman (Past President); Carmen Haberman; Susan Haise; Katie Heil; Patti Keating Kahn; Michael G. Klein; Michael J. Koss Jr.; Tracey L. Klein (President); Kenneth C. Krei; Mary Ann LaBahn; Alexander Lasry; Steve Laughlin (Past President); Emilia Layden; Marianne Lubar; Sara Meaney; Steve Mech; Barry Poltermann; Bob Pothier; Joseph A. Rock; Mark Sabljak; Lacey Sadoff; Dave Stamm; Julia Taylor; John Utz. Emeritus members: Tom Barrett, Jacqueline Strayer.

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