Here we go! The 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival is set to light up the city April 11-25. During that two-week stretch, a whopping 131 feature films and 169 shorts will screen at the Oriental Theatre, Downer Theatre, Avalon Theater, and Times Cinema. MFF is one of our favorite events of the year, and we are READY for it. Passes and tickets to the 16th annual shindig are available HERE.

Speaking of 16, here are 16 reasons to get excited for MFF2024! These aren’t necessarily individual film recommendations (HERE‘s the full program, by the way); instead, they’re 16 general things to look for, check out, and enjoy. So enjoy!

Opening Night!

In the mood for a sure-to-be-heartwarming Opening Night film? Then run—don’t walk—to the screening of new documentary Shari & Lamb Chop on Thursday, April 11 at 6 p.m. in the Oriental Theatre’s Abele Cinema. Looking to party afterwards? Then run—don’t walk—to the Opening Night Party at the nearby Villa Terrace (2220 N. Terrace Ave.) The party runs from 8-11 p.m.


Will there be a 3-D screening at MFF2024? Yes! German film Anselm will screen only once, on Saturday, April 13 at 12:30 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema. Here’s the synopsis from Milwaukee Film:

This unique 3D cinematic experience dives deep into renowned German contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer’s inspiration and process. Exploring his fascinations with myth and history, nature and death, the film interweaves past and present to diffuse the line between film and painting, allowing the audience to be completely immersed. Shot over two years by Wim Wenders, the film serves as a definitive portrait of Kiefer while also documenting what happens when two artists of this caliber collaborate.

Anvil Orchestra!

Vermont-based group Anvil Orchestra returns to the Milwaukee Film Festival to provide live (and fantastic) music accompaniment to a classic silent film. This year’s film: 1920’s The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. Do NOT miss this one-night-only event on Thursday, April 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema.

Black Lens!

MFF2024’s Black-focused program is loaded with standout selections. We’re looking forward to All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt, Bike Vessel, Garland Jeffreys: The King Of In Between, and Young. Wild. Free.

Cine Sin Fronteras!

There are plenty of great flicks in the festival’s Latinx-focused program, too. We’re definitely checking out The Settlers (Los Colonos), Sujo, Toll (Pedágio), and Tótem.

Cinema Hooligante!

As always, Milwaukee Record is the proud sponsor of the “Cinema Hooligante” program—a.k.a. the midnight/horror/bizarro program filled with films both strange and terrifying. It’s a particularly strong lineup this year, topped with one of the most talked-about horror films of the year, Late Night With The Devil.

Cream City Cinema!

Where to begin with all the Milwaukee love in MFF2024? There are two installments of the shorts-loaded “Milwaukee Show” (Sunday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema; Monday, April 15 at 6 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema). There’s the glorious return of “The MKE Music Video Show” (Sunday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema). There’s the new visual-arts-focused shorts program “The Milwaukee Picture Show” (Thursday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Oriental’s Herzfeld Cinema.) And there are Milwaukee-made features like I’m Your Host, Out Of The Picture, Corridor, and Angels Of Dirt.

Downer Theatre!

Roughly seven months after abruptly closing, the Downer Theatre has a new lease on life. And it’s thanks to Milwaukee Film! Yes, Milwaukee Film is officially taking over operations of the historic East Side theater starting with MFF2024. After that, regular operations at the Downer will resume April 26. Welcome back, Downer Theatre!


The hosts of the Milwaukee Film/Radio Milwaukee podcast Cinebuds—Kristopher Pollard and Dori Zori—will present a screening of the 1984 Kevin Bacon classic Footloose on Sunday, April 14 at 12:15 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema. Stick around for a post-film Q&A, and don’t be afraid to dance during the film.

Gene Wilder!

Milwaukee-born legend Gene Wilder is getting his own documentary! Finally! Remembering Gene Wilder will screen Saturday, April 13 at 3:15 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema, and again on Tuesday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. in the Oriental’s Abele Cinema.


LGBTQ+ voices get a spotlight in this stellar program. We plan to see Chasing Chasing Amy, Desire Lines, Femme, Lady Like, Slow, and The Queen Of My Dreams.

Music docs!

“Sound Vision” is another fantastic program, this one focusing on music documentaries. We’re looking forward to Dig! XX, Endless Calls For Fame, Joan Baez I Am A Noise, Let The Canary Sing, Louder Than You Think, and Swamp Dogg Gets His Pool Painted.

Panels and parties and stuff!

Wouldn’t it be fun to get ready for Late Night With The Devil by bowling a few games beforehand at Landmark Lanes? It would! So let’s do that! On Saturday, April 13, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., we’re gonna bowl! And so should you! We have three lanes reserved, and bowling, shoes, and a pitcher or two of beer (and something non-alcoholic) are on us! First come, first served! Just show up! (And oh yeah, there are plenty more panels and parties during MFF2024. Find them HERE.)


If you’re looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, look no further than the shorts programs! There are animated shorts, sports shorts, kids shorts, teen shorts, Black Lens shorts, GenreQueer shorts, Cine Sin Fronteras shorts, and more. And, of course, our favorite shorts program, “The Best Damn F*#@ing Midnight Program Ever. Shit.”

Stop Making Sense!

Jonathan Demme’s classic Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense has been screening monthly at the Oriental as of late, but this is the first time in two years that is screening during the MFF. And yes, this is the new A24 restoration of the film. Get up and dance! (Seriously: dancing in the aisles is mandatory.)

Closing Night!

Phew. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Again, check out the full MFF2024 program HERE. And check out the Closing Night film, Robot Dreams, on Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Oriental’s Abele Cinema.

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Before ‘Late Night With The Devil’ at MFF2024, go “Bowling With The Devil” at Landmark Lanes

Here’s the Cinema Hooligante lineup (and everything else) for the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival

Milwaukee Film will take over operations of Downer Theatre in April

Take a trip with the artwork for the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival

Times Cinema will stop screening “regularly scheduled repertory films,” only do special events

Milwaukee Film Festival celebrates increase of in-person attendance by 58%, honors 2023 Audience Award-winning films