With our “Business To Business” series, we’re offering business owners in and around Milwaukee a platform to acknowledge other local establishments and area entrepreneurs they appreciate. This week: The Vanguard co-owner Jim McCann voices his appreciation for Milwaukee Film. Here’s what Jim has to say…

“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.” — Milwaukee Film Website

While I knew that Milwaukee Film ran the Milwaukee Film Festival, I was made aware of all the ways they connect with our community through cinema when I was gifted a Milwaukee Film Membership. The membership ended up being renewed many times and was used often. With the membership, I received many benefits like discounts on film screenings, merchandise, snacks, and access to exclusive events like the free member only screenings.

I was also made aware of the nonprofits commitment to prioritizing diverse cultural perspectives and representation of historically marginalized communities through film, conversation, and events with the Milwaukee Film’s Culture & Communities initiative. It’s an incredibly important program to shine a light on people and stories that don’t get enough—or any—attention. With Milwaukee Film’s mission to entertain, educate, and engage our community through film in mind, please let me share a story with you.

Being a parent during COVID, it was challenging to navigate being safe, but also trying to provide your young child with a somewhat normal experience growing up. During that time, the Film Fest went virtual or had a virtual component. One of our favorite family traditions was steaming the Kids Shorts film program during the fest. We would all huddle together on the couch with our popcorn, with my daughter having already checked in our home-made move passes.

As the short movies ended, we would take the opportunity to discuss all the elements we enjoyed about what we just saw. We asked each other about some real life emotions that were portrayed in the shorts. The night would end with rating all the movies. After much debate, my daughter gave all seven short movies we saw the highest possible grade. I guess that makes sense since her favorite color was “rainbow” at the time to avoid leaving any color out.

This year for the film feat, I had the opportunity to take my daughter to see the Kids Shorts program at the theater for the first time. From getting in the small entrance line to getting our drinks and popcorn, it was impossible not to notice the excitement building inside her. I would be lying if I said that excitement didn’t transfer to me. A big smile appeared on her face when we were handed the official rating form, just like we had done at home.

Having more of my time divided by her new brother, as the lights went down, I took every moment to be thankful for the experience I was lucky enough to be having with her that day. There were many discussions about the shorts when we arrived at home. Including some of the more complex themes, like a loved one passing. After we debated the films, she surprisingly gave one of the shorts a 4 instead of the normal 5. I took comfort in knowing the filmmakers would never know who gave them such a devastating score. While I enjoyed watching some films without the kids during the fest, I am so grateful for the thought and time Milwaukee Film dedicated to the kids programs. I think most of us have been affected in some way through the power of cinema, and that day will be a lifelong memory for me. Thank you, Milwaukee Film.

Are you a Milwaukee-area business owner who wants to shout out another local establishment you love in the “Business To Business” series? Get in touch with us at [email protected]. You can check out more “Business To Business” entries HERE.