Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Film Hosting New Film Festival

Cultures & Communities Festival runs seven days, through Sunday, September 12.

By - Sep 8th, 2021 11:43 am
Oriental Theatre - Screen 1. Photo by Pamela Strohl courtesy of Milwaukee Film.

Oriental Theatre main theater before renovation. Photo by Pamela Strohl courtesy of Milwaukee Film.

Milwaukee Film‘s second major festival is underway.

The Cultures & Communities Festival runs through Sunday, September 12 and offers a mix of in-person and virtual programming. There are virtual screenings, in-person films at the renovated Oriental Theatre and cultural events.

Singer-songwriter Michelle Williams will give a keynote speech, Getting Real About Depression, on Wednesday evening at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. Williams rose to fame in the early 2000s as a member of Destiny’s Child and has since released solo albums, acted on television shows and on the stage and written a book.

More than 20 films are being offered by Milwaukee Film, including documentaries, dramas and comedies. In line with the mission of the festival, many feature minority communities in Black, Latino and LBGTQ+ actors or plots.

A full schedule is available on the Milwaukee Film website, including details on which films are being offered in-person with scheduled showings versus on-demand virtually. Details about the Oriental Theatre’s COVID-19 vaccination or negative test requirement are also available.

The new festival was formerly known as the Minority Health Film Festival, but after two years was rebranded to attract a wider audience. The nonprofit organization also rescheduled its primary event, the Milwaukee Film Festival, to May in part to give the rebranded festival its own time slot.

“Within the next couple of years, the expectation is that this really becomes a premier festival on the calendar,” said Milwaukee Film chief innovation officer Geraud Blanks in a May interview. Blanks hopes to build a festival with national recognition that extends beyond just film.

“Imagine a multi-cultural festival. The core of it is film, but there are all these other events going on around it,” said Blanks. “Health and wellness is going to be at its core, but all sorts of lifestyle interests will be represented.”

This festival represents the first in-person event the organization has held since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The Oriental Theatre, taken over by the nonprofit in 2018, was closed for renovations until August.

In-person screening tickets are $12 ($9 for members). Virtual screenings are available for $9 each ($5 for members).

An all-access pass for in-person and virtual showings is $99.99 ($74.99 for Milwaukee Film members). A virtual-only pass is $29.99 ($24.99).

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