Milwaukee Film
Press Release

Milwaukee Film Festival Announces 2014 Panels

Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, Wesley Morris, to deliver Keynote Address; Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Debra Granik, to lead rare panel on working with actors

By - Sep 9th, 2014 07:15 am
Wesley Morris

Wesley Morris

MILWAUKEE – Tuesday, September 09, 2014 – The 6th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, announces its panels lineup. Commencing this year’s panels is Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, Wesley Morris, presenting the State of the Cinema keynote lecture. Morris will reflect on the current position of the film industry, possible futures for the medium, and conclude with a question and answer session prior to the screening of the romantic drama, Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys, selected by Morris.

Oscar-nominated writer and director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog) leads a one-of-a-kind panel, entitled Working with Actors. Granik will discuss her process for auditioning and working with actors on set while demonstrating her approach with local actors.

“We have a fantastic selection of panels tailored to both filmmakers and the general public, which take further the rich discussions sparked by festival films, as well as those surrounding film industry issues and cinema culture. I’m especially excited about the panel led by Debra Granik as it’s a rare opportunity to witness the process of such an acclaimed director,” shares Cara Ogburn, Education Director.

Two additional filmmaker-focused panels include: Pitch Us Your Doc! Contest and the Film Financing Panel. The contest provides local filmmakers the opportunity to pitch their documentary film idea for the chance to win $1,000 in cash, while the finance panel takes up the landscape of film financing through a discussion with visiting and local filmmakers.

Debra Granik

Debra Granik

Panels extending from films being screened at this year’s festival include Memory & the Arts (inspired by Alive Inside), MKE At Risk: Feeding Our Community (inspired by the powerful documentary, The Starfish Throwers) and After 1971: Media, Freedom of Information, and the Public’s Right to Know, led by Marquette University Law School’s Mike Gousha, for his On the Issues series. After 1971 extends the concerns of the Opening Night film, 1971, discussing the ramifications of government surveillance, freedom of information, and media ethics in post-Snowden America. Featured on the panel is Edward Snowden’s lead lawyer, Ben Wizner, of the ACLU.

Similar to panels is the more informal Conversations series which follows select screenings at venues near the theatre with engaging, small group discussions guided by film enthusiasts or experts in the film’s subject matter. A total of 100 conversations are scheduled to take place throughout the festival, denoted in the Program Book film listings, schedule, and online at Conversations are free and open to the public.

All panels are free and open to the public. Weekend panels will be held in the Back Room at Colectivo Coffee (2211 N. Prospect Ave.). The panel on Monday, September 29, will be held at Marquette University’s Eckstein Hall (1215 W. Michigan St.).

Panels Media Sponsor: Milwaukee Business Journal


Keynote: State of Cinema


Join us for our annual lecture on the “State of Cinema.” Each year we host a distinguished member of the cinematic community to reflect on the current position of the industry and possible futures for the medium. This year we host Wesley Morris, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism while at the Boston Globe, who now writes on film and culture at The panel will conclude with a brief Q&A, after which patrons are invited to join Morris for a screening of Michael Haneke’s 2000 romantic drama, Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys.

Working with Actors


Access the process of one of today’s foremost directors as Oscar nominee Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog) discusses and demonstrates her process for auditioning and working with actors on set. This is not to be missed by any filmmakers who plan to cast actors or actors who want to get into films.

Due to the anticipated demand for this event, RSVPs via will be required.

Mex-ciné: Mexican Filmmaking, Production, and Consumption in the 21st Century


Part of our Passport: Mexico program, this talk by Dr. Frederick Luis Aldama, The Ohio State University’s Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor, one of the preeminent scholars in the field, will contextualize Mexican cinema and filmmaking in light of national history and culture.

Memory & the Arts


Following the matinee screening of Alive Inside, our panel will continue the conversation about the effects of art on the mind and memory from various disciplinary and artistic perspectives.

Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Nancy Armitage, Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin

Dr. Anne Basting, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Diane Knight, Alverno College

After 1971: Media, Freedom of Information, and the Public’s Right to Know



This panel extends the concerns of our Opening Night film, 1971, discussing the ramifications of government surveillance, freedom of information, and media ethics in post-Snowden America.

Part of Mike Gousha’s On the Issues series, this free event requires an RSVP via


Mike Gousha, Marquette University Law School


Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Christa Westerberg, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Ben Wizner, American Civil Liberties Union

Pitch Us Your Doc! Contest


Watch as several local filmmakers pitch their documentary film idea to a panel of industry insider judges in hopes of winning a $1,000 cash prize. Cheer them on, learn what makes a good pitch, and see what projects might be coming out of Milwaukee soon.


Kim Nguyen, War Witch (MFF 2013 Competition Award Winner)

Michael Raisler, Cinereach, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Laurie Scheer, The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre (2014)

Film Financing Panel


Join our panel of visiting and local filmmakers to discuss the landscape of financing for film production. On a topic that is always of concern for independent filmmakers, this panel is sure to engage.

Panelists TBD

MKE At Risk: Feeding Our Community


The global vision of The Starfish Throwers is made local as this panel considers the challenges of food security here in Milwaukee. Both the film and our panel aim to inspire positive action to help end hunger.

Mitch Teich, WUWM


Sharon Adams, Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

Larry Adams, Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

Nicole Angresano, United Way of Greater Milwaukee

Dr. Jennifer Jordan, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Young Kim, Fondy Food Center

Sherrie Tussler, Hunger Task Force

The 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival runs September 25 – October 9, 2014 at the Landmark Oriental Theatre, Landmark Downer Theatre, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill and Times Cinema. Passes and ticket 6-Packs for the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival are currently available at discounted rates exclusively online at

Tickets for individual screenings will be available through Milwaukee Film Festival Box Office starting September 10 for Milwaukee Film Members and September 11 for the General Public.

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