Milwaukee Film
Press Release

Cream City Cinema Showcases Region’s Diverse Filmmaking Talent

HBO presents new Cream City Cinema Emerging Voices Award to accelerate a local filmmaker’s career

By - Sep 20th, 2018 08:32 am
2014 Milwaukee Film Festival Opening Night.

2014 Milwaukee Film Festival Opening Night.

MILWAUKEE – Thursday, September 20, 2018 – Milwaukee Film reveals the complete line-up for the Cream City Cinema program at the 10th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by Associated Bank.

Celebrating the talent and creativity of locally based filmmakers, the Cream City Cinema program is comprised of 48 feature and short films ranging in genre and topic. New this year includes HBO’s support of the juried Cream City Cinema Emerging Voices Award, which will provide one diverse director from the region a travel stipend of $2,000 to put towards a trip to Santa Monica for a day of meetings and introductions at the HBO offices. Locally-directed films are eligible for an additional $12,500 in juried cash prizes during the festival.

This year’s line-up includes the madcap comedy Lake Michigan Monster, filmed in black-and-white to harken back to classic monster movies; Sijan, a documentary that details the inspiring story of Milwaukeean and Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Lance Peter Sijan; and This Little Light, which follows the story of a Black feminist organizer and freedom singer who is fired from her community organizing job after marrying her wife. Two beloved local businesses receive the spotlight in the documentaries Riverwest Film & Video and Yen Ching.

Annual showcase favorites, The Milwaukee Show I, The Milwaukee Show II, and The Milwaukee Youth Show, and The Milwaukee Music Video Show will also be returning.

Beyond Cream City Cinema, locally based filmmakers will be featured in other program categories. This includes Carol Brandt’s Pet Names, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year, with Brandt’s work compared to acclaimed director Kelly Reichardt.

Cream City Cinema is presented by John Axford and sponsored by Urban Milwaukee, UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts Department of Film, Video, Animation, & New Genres, and WUWM 89.7. Cream City Cinema is supported in part by a grant from the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.


Invisible Lines

(USA / 2018 / Laura Dyan Kezman, Nate Imig, Vianca Fuster)


World Premiere! In this special feature-length presentation of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee‘s acclaimed web series, we see discussion of the divisions that exist in our city – frank, unscripted conversation about segregation, racism, and discrimination from a diverse pool of Milwaukeeans (activists, artists, students, and historians all participate). Springing forth from the notion that there can be no community building without genuine dialogue, Invisible Lines is a much-needed conversation surrounding topics long forced to the periphery.

Lake Michigan Monster

(USA / 2018 / Director: Ryland Tews)

World Premiere! An eccentric ship captain and a group of specialists attempt to hunt down the wiliest creature of the deep – the Lake Michigan Monster. Banned in four lakes, this madcap comedy (filmed in black-and-white) harkens back to creature features of yore with a briny aesthetic all its own, harkening to the absurdist fantasy stylings of Guy Maddin.

This Little Light

(USA / 2018 / Director: Ada McMahon, Wendi Moore-O’Neal)

Pre-feature: Dr. Smith’s African American Museum and Black Vertan Archive (USA | 2018 | Director: Brad Lichtenstein)

World Premiere! Wendi Moore-O’Neal, Black Feminist organizer and freedom singer from New Orleans, is fired from her community organizing job after marrying her wife Mandisa due to a homophobic celibacy policy held by her non-profit employer. A portrait of the power of love, community, and the living legacy of the Black Southern Freedom movement, we follow Wendi on her inspiring journey, calling all of us to rethink how we approach work and building a beloved community in the Era of Trump.

Riverwest Film & Video

(USA | 2018 | Director: Emir Cakaroz)

Long a staple of both our film-loving and filmmaking communities, Riverwest Film & Video gets the documentary treatment it so richly deserves. Offering a diverse range of films for rent, film equipment for sale, and a local radio station for anyone and everyone who wants to have a program, it has long served Milwaukee as a locus of neighborhood activity. Meet the regulars who patronize the store, programmers who run the radio station, and employees who man the shop in this winning documentary.


(USA / 2018 / Director: Tim Seymour, Janine Sijan Rozina)

World Premiere! The inspiring story of Capt. Lance Peter Sijan, Sijan covers the unbelievable yet true circumstances that led to his being a Medal of Honor recipient. While on a mission over Laos on November 9, 1967, a 25-year-old Lance Sijan was forced to eject from his disabled aircraft into the thick jungle environs below. Miraculously surviving for 45 days without food, water, or the hope of rescue, Lance somehow evaded enemy capture. A moving reminder of the value of honor and integrity in an era where we need it most.

Yen Ching

(USA / 2018 / Director: Yinan Wang)

Pre-feature: You Find Yourself (Sick) in Bolivia (USA | 2018 | Director: Hannah Raye White)

World Premiere! This incisive documentary takes a fresh look at the family dynamics in play at the Chinese restaurant of the film’s title. Intimate footage captures how the restaurant owner, Chen, and his children pursue the American dream in distinctly different ways. As we learn Chen’s life story, we see the dilemma he faces – for very different reasons, each of his sons are not interested in following the traditional Chinese-American path in which they inherit the family business.

The Milwaukee Music Video Show

Amanda Huff – “Gravetalking” (USA | 2018 | Director: Kristin Peterson)

Bruise Violet – “Nightmare” (USA | 2018 | Director: Robyn Ehrlich)

Calliope – “Sea of Red” (USA | 2018 | Director: Victor Buell IV)

DelMar the Poet – “The Burial” (USA | 2017 | Director: Corbin Cox)

King Courteen – “Bucker Boy” (USA | 2018 | Director: Damien Blue)

L. Martin – “ Skipping Rocks” (USA | 2018 | Director: Bryce O’Boyle)

La Armada – “Fire” (USA | 2018 | Directors: Adam Santiago, Derek Shreves)

Mini Meltdown – “Number On Me” (USA | 2018 | Director: Nick Sommer)

Ms. Lotus Fankh “Knowledge” (USA | 2018 | Director: Anthony Diaz)

Platinum Boys – “Lord Knows” (USA | 2017 | Directors: Joey Turbo, Ryan Reeve)

Von Alexander – “Demons” (USA | 2018 | Director: David Naida)

Willy Porter – “There’s Something Growing” (USA | 2017 | Director: Liam Porter)

Xposed 4Heads – “System Overload” (USA | 2017 | Director: Mark G.E.)

The Milwaukee Show I

Brothers (USA | 2018 | Directors: Sheyam Ghieth, Emmett Jack Lundberg)

The Chase Key (USA | 2018 | Director: Dan Boville)

Grandma Charlotte (USA | 2018 | Director: Andrew Swant)

Hounds of Love (USA | 2018 | Director: Nolan Kresnak)

Three Neighborhoods: People, Place, Purpose (USA | 2018 | Directors: Adam Carr, Wes Tank)

Through the Eye Root (USA | 2018 | Director: Vincent Maslowski)

The Water Will Carry Us Home (USA | 2018 | Director: Gabrielle Tesfaye)

The Milwaukee Show II

A Wake Before Mourning (USA | 2017 | Director: Jens Rhude)

Alice’s Garden (USA | 2017 | Director: Jenny Plevin)

El Color de la Libertad (USA | 2018 | Directors: Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, Wes Tank)

Dislocation Blues (USA | 2017 | Director: Sky Hopinka)

Marie (USA | 2017 | Director: Katie Theel)

Meet Uncle Paul (USA | 2018 | Director: Jessica Bursi)

Preset (USA | 2018 | Director: Parker Gayan)

The Same Prison Bars (USA | 2017 | Director: Joseph Garcia-Menocal)

The Milwaukee Youth Show

A Modern Valentine’s Day (USA | 2018 | Directors: Chloe Ullenberg, Mitchell Jakubowski, Katie Koehler)

Attraper des Gemmes (USA | 2017 | Directors: Bria Smith, Brian Le, Alyssa Cunningham, Leilah Covington)

Balance Beam (USA | 2018 | Director: Leean Le)

Cops and Robbers (USA | 2018 | Director: Jay Chontal)

Crescendo (USA | 2018 | Director: Malcolm Ramirez)

Dreams Tonight (USA | 2018 | Directors: Gavin Portilo, Brayden Lemke, Angie Charchesi)

Drink Up (USA | 2018 | Director: TJ Khampane)

Escuela Verde’s Queer Collective: Exploring the Intersectionality of the QPOC Existence (USA | 2018 | Director: Angelo Alvarez)

Incarnate (USA | 2018 | Director: Clayton Allen)

Keys (USA | 2018 | Director: Harrison Hanneman)

ONE (USA | 2018 | Directors: Kyen Ditzenberger, Gabe Brusky)

Respect in Representation (USA | 2018 | Directors: Tori Frank, Elena Gonzalez Clark)

Shoes (USA | 2018 | Director: Wyatt Chang)

The Chamber of Labor: Hamlet (USA | 2018 | Director: Sergio Sandoval)

This Is America (USA | 2018 | Directors: Bria Smith, Aya Fares, Kate Meyer)

We All Bleed Red (USA | 2018 | Director: Jacob Young)


Back at the Staircase

(USA | 2018 | Director: Drew Britton)


Program Category: Spotlight Presentations/Closing Night

Director scheduled to attend! In the midst of preparing for a celebration of charges being dropped against her youngest daughter, family matriarch Barbara suffers a violent tumble that leaves her hospitalized and comatose. So what originally was a coming together under the auspices of celebration instead becomes a tense vigil for the five relatives who connect at the family cabin: sisters Margaret and Trish (Mickey O’Hagan and Jennifer Lafleur), nephews Phillip and Ian (Stephen Plunkett and Logan Lark), and Ian’s girlfriend Jody (Leonora Pitts). Not knowing how long they’ll be forced to spend in each other’s company as they await news, we watch as the screws are slowly and expertly turned on this so-called family, bringing the tension to both unbearable and wholly believable levels in this expertly crafted, locally made chamber piece filled from top to bottom with astonishing performances.

Pet Names

(USA | 2018 | Director: Carol Brandt)


Program Category: American Independents

Director scheduled to attend! Multi-MFF alum and local filmmaker extraordinaire Carol Brandt returns with her latest, shot entirely in and around Wisconsin, an appealingly off-center road move that has drawn comparison to Kelly Reichardt. Taking a brief sojourn from tending to her terminally ill mother, grad school dropout Leigh plans for a weekend in the woods, with her high school ex-boyfriend (and his adorable pug) tagging along for the ride. Filmed with the faded warmth of old Polaroids, their introspective getaway causes them to relitigate the past while looking toward their potential futures.

The First Patient

(USA | 2018 | Director: Chip Duncan)

Program Category: Spotlight Presentations

World premiere! Director scheduled to attend! Local filmmaker Chip Duncan takes us behind the scenes as first-year medical students are introduced to the first patient they’ll ever work on: human cadavers to be dissected during the medical rite of passage that is gross anatomy. Granted unprecedented access to this previously exclusive world, we follow the students, faculty, and body donors on a dramatic and emotional journey into the human body—receiving a true education into their chosen profession as well as a crash course in what it means to be human.

New Beginnings

(USA | 2018 | Director: Aseel Tabaza)

Program Category: Teen Screen

Pre-feature to Personal Statement

About Milwaukee Film

Milwaukee Film is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to entertaining, educating, and engaging our community through cinematic experiences, with a vision to make Milwaukee a center for film culture. The organization is one of the largest of its kind in the country, with over 4,000 members and 84,000 festival attendees. Milwaukee Film recently launched the Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance, an industry pillar with over 350 members dedicated to stimulating and growing the filmmaking economy in southeastern Wisconsin. In addition, Milwaukee Film operates the magnificent Oriental Theatre, a historic three-screen cinema committed to high-quality and accessible film and education programming. The 10th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival will take place from October 18 – November 1, 2018. For more information, or to become a member, visit us online at

Facebook: | Twitter: @mkefilm | Instagram: @mkefilm

About the Milwaukee Film Board of Directors

Milwaukee Film’s independent board is made up of the following members: Chris Abele (Past Board Chair); John P. Bania; Donna Baumgartner; Elizabeth Brenner; Karen Ellenbecker; Alexander P. Fraser; Cecelia Gore; Bill Haberman (Past Board Chair); Susan Haise; Katie Heil; Patti Keating Kahn (Board Chair Elect); Tracey L. Klein (Immediate Past Board Chair); Michael G. Klein; Michael J. Koss Jr.; Mary Ann LaBahn; Alexander Lasry; Steve Laughlin (Past Board Chair); Emilia Layden; Michael R. Lovell; Marianne Lubar; Mark Mone; Kenneth W. Muth; Barry Poltermann; Bob Pothier; John Ridley; Joseph A. Rock; Ramona Rogers-Windsor; Lacey Sadoff; Dave Stamm; Julia Taylor; John Utz; Emeritus members: Tom Barrett; Jacqueline Strayer

Recent Press Releases by Milwaukee Film

Milwaukee Film Festival Returns to In-Person Screenings at Local Venues

Five cinema screens and one virtual screen to feature 200+ films in a new hybrid format

Milwaukee Film’s Oriental Theatre to Reopen Friday, Aug. 20

Non-profit cultural institution thrilled to welcome moviegoers back to their beloved movie palace.

Milwaukee Film Hires Alida Harper Trocke to New Culture & Talent Director Role

Local nonprofit film organization brings new HR director on board as culture leader.

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