Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Film Names New CEO, Reports Attendance Growth

And reveals new fall doc festival and 2025 festival dates.

By - May 3rd, 2024 03:42 pm
Oriental Theatre. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Oriental Theatre. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Fresh off the 2024 festival, Milwaukee Film board members liked what they saw from interim CEO Anne Reed.

The organization announced Thursday afternoon that it had hired Reed permanently.

When founding CEO Jonathan Jackson‘s departure was announced in January, Reed was described as a leader in place to “navigate day-to-day elements of a leadership transition, while a national search for a new President and CEO begins.” Now she’s in charge of one of the country’s leading film nonprofits.

“After careful discussion and deliberation, the executive committee offered the job of Milwaukee Film President and CEO to Anne Reed, effective immediately.” said board chair Susan Mikulay in a statement. “I can’t tell you how excited we are with Anne’s enthusiasm, leadership, and stellar expertise in jumping into this position as she has done and navigating a path for us through these past months. The executive committee is confident that Anne is the best individual to help take our organization to the next level.”

An attorney by trade, Reed had last led the Wisconsin Humane Society from 2010 to 2022.

She now leads an organization in transition. Shortly after Urban Milwaukee reported on the organization’s financial difficulties and staff turnover, Milwaukee Film announced it was taking over the Downer Theatre in addition to its ongoing operation of the Oriental Theatre.

Reed says she’s ready for what lies ahead.

“In my tenure as Interim CEO, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of Milwaukee Film’s work: the Milwaukee Film Festival, which has become a treasure in our city; our year-round programming celebrating film’s variety and depth; and our programs with kids and filmmakers,” she said in a statement. “It is a privilege to lead such a dynamic organization that stands at the heart of Milwaukee’s cultural life.”

Festival Growth

The 16th annual festival concluded its 15-day run on April 25.

“This year’s festival was a joyous celebration of independent and international cinema,” said artistic director Cara Ogburn. “From a packed Downer cinema on a sunny day to watch Frederick Wiseman’s latest to the return of our 500-person dance party for Stop Making Sense, the festival felt like a true celebration of cinema and community.”

The organization announced a total attendance of 32,624. That’s up slightly from 2023, which saw a total attendance of 31,757, including 29,718 in-person for film screenings. The 2024 festival was the first since 2020 not to include a virtual component.

However, attendance is still down dramatically from the record high of 87,618 in 2019. That festival included far more screens, including the Broadway Theatre Center in the Historic Third Ward, the Kenilworth Building and the Rivoli Theatre in Cedarburg and was before the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a downturn in film attendance. It was also the last traditional festival held in the fall.

The 2024 festival featured 301 films, of which were 132 were feature length. Sixty-two of the feature films were documentaries. There were 379 public screenings (as well as three private screenings, including the packed Members Super-Secret Screening). The latest festival used four theaters: the Oriental, Downer, Times Cinema and Avalon Theater.

Mark Your Calendars

A new festival is coming to Milwaukee Film’s lineup, replacing the Cultures & Communities Festival. “Dialogues Documentary Festival” will take place Sept. 26-29.

The 2025 Milwaukee Film Festival will take place from April 24 through May 8.

And The Winners Are…

The feature-film winner of the Allan H. (Bud) and Susan L. Selig Audience Award was Remembering Gene Wilder, a documentary about the life of the actor and Milwaukee native. The highest-rated short was Dead Cat, part of the Shorts: Surprise, Surprise program.

  • Luminaries Jury Award – La Chimera (dir. Alice Rohrwacher)
    Luminaries Jury: Andria Wilson Mirza, Andrew Peterson, Daphne McWlliams
  • Emerging Fiction Jury Award – Femme (dirs. Ng Choon Ping, Sam Freeman)
  • Special Mention: If Only I Could Hibernate (dir. Zolijargal Purevdash)
    Emerging Fiction Jury: Rebecca Green, David Siev, Kate Markham
  • Emerging Documentary Jury Award – Desire Lines (dir. Jules Rosskam)
  • Special Mentions: Another Body (dirs. Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn), Seeking Mavis Beacon (dir. Jazmin Renée Jones)
    Emerging Documentary Jury: Merrill Sterritt, Madsen Minax, Mike Gibisser
  • Cream City Cinema Jury Award – Decoupling 脱钩 (dir. Yinan Wang)
  • Cream City Cinema Jury Award – Out of the Picture (dir. Mary Louise Schumacher)
  • Cream City Cinema Jury Award – A Sweetness of Lapse (dir. Bashir Aden)
    Special Mentions: Why My Dad Loves (dir. Nkaujoua Xiong), Corridor (dir. Johnathon Olsen), The Last Lordship (dir. Atesh Atici)
    Cream City Cinema Jury: Kathy Susca, Caitlin Mae Burke, Gray Rodriguez
  • Shorts Jury Award – Essex Girls (dir. Yero Timi-Biu)
    Special Mention: Estela, Is It You? (dirs. Victor Martin, Fabian Martin)
    Shorts Jury: Kayla Myers, Tim Gordon, Eric Kleppe Montenegro
  • Kids’ Choice Jury Award – What’s Up With the Sky? (dir. Irene Iborra)

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