Jeramey Jannene

2021 Milwaukee Film Festival Moved To May

Organization says move will benefit audiences and create a better fit with film industry.

By - Nov 30th, 2020 04:26 pm
The Oriental Theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Dave Reid.

The Oriental Theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Dave Reid.

If you enjoyed the virtual Milwaukee Film Festival in October you won’t have to wait long to do it again.

Milwaukee Film announced Monday that it was moving the annual festival to May.

From both a community and industry perspective, a spring festival would better suit our needs and serve our audience. It’s odd, but the disruption created by the pandemic has actually played a significant role in opening up this opportunity,” said CEO Jonathan Jackson in a statement.

The 2021 festival, the 13th annual, will take place from May 6th through the 20th.

“We’ve seen some positive long-term developments for fighting COVID-19 in the news recently, but realistically we are planning for a 2021 festival that’s primarily, or possibly exclusively, virtual,” said Jackson.

Running from October 15th through the 29th, the entirely virtual 2020 festival featured nearly 200 films, a smaller lineup than past years due to a pandemic-inspired pullback by filmmakers.

Milwaukee Film reported an “attendance” of 66,286 for both film viewings and events. That’s down from 2019’s record-setting total of 87,618 in 2019, but comparing this year to last is hardly apples-to-apples.

Attendees watched a total of 1,735,029 minutes of programming. “Wowza,” said the organization in releasing the figure. A total of 1,232 passes were sold.

“In summer, about one-third of our members told us they had never rented or purchased a film digitally before,” said Jackson. “Our audience did a tremendous job adapting with us to a virtual platformMany of them deeply missed being in a cinema, but they also enjoyed discovering the flexibility and accessibility of the virtual format.”

Passes for the 2021 festival will go on sale on December 1st for $75 for members, $140 for non-members. Prices are set to increase January 1st. The film lineup will be announced in April, as will any possible in-person events or screenings.

In a press release, the organization said it believes a long-term move to May will benefit attendees with better weather making outdoor lines more palatable. It said it will also encourage more travel between theaters and to neighborhood businesses.

The 2019 festival was held at the Oriental, Times and Avalon theaters. The organization operates the Oriental Theatre and has kept the theater closed since March.

The complete program guide for the 2020 festival is still online and sorted into 12 categories. Milwaukee Film continues to offer films on a weekly basis through its Sofa Cinema program.

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