The 2021 Milwaukee Film Festival wrapped up last Thursday. Once again, it was a virtual fest, bringing hundreds of films directly to your TV, laptop, phone, tablet, etc. How many film minutes were viewed during the two-week fest? How many passes were sold? How did this year’s numbers compare to last year’s numbers? (This year’s fest took place a mere seven months after the 2020 fest.) And who took home those sweet Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Awards? For all that and more, read the press release below:


By the Numbers: 2021 Milwaukee Film Festival
The 13th annual Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by Associated Bank, is another virtual success.

MILWAUKEE – Tuesday, May 25, 2021 – The 13th annual Milwaukee Film Festival (MFF), presented by Associated Bank, was another stellar success for the organization. Taking place virtually May 6-20 with over 200 films to choose from, movie lovers from all over were able to See the World watching 1,544,917 minutes of film while interacting with several different public events and virtual parties.

While numbers were down versus the October 2020 MFF, with a 1% decrease in pass sales and an 11% decrease in minutes viewed, the organization expected this due to the Festival returning just seven months after the last and the removal of restrictions on convening activity inside and outside this spring. As a result, virtual events, excluding film viewing, were down nearly 50% accounting for a 37% drop in total attendance.

All told, in seven months’ time, during a pandemic, the two virtual MFFs had 3,280,009 minutes viewed, 2,450 passes sold, and 108,285 attendees.

Key festival numbers include:

• Film minutes viewed: 1,544,917 (1,735,092 in 2020)

• Passes sold: 1,218 (1,232 in 2020)

• Total attendance (movie watchers and event attendees): 41,999 (66,286 in 2020)

• Special guests in attendance (filmmakers, producers, etc.): 194 (153 in 2020)

• Susan & Bob Mikulay Double-Up donation total: $153,793 ($186,318 raised in 2020)

• Public events, in-depth panels, and virtual parties: 18 (11 in 2020)

• Live nightly talk show-style conversations with filmmakers: 15 (15 in 2020)

In addition, the nonprofit notably awarded $38,000 in juried and audience awards which aim to celebrate filmmakers and their creative work.

Juried awards include:

Documentary Jury Award ($5,000)

• Jury: Greta Hagen-Richardson (Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival), Keisha Knight (Sentient.Art), Fallon Young (New Orleans Film Society)

• Winner: “Once Upon a Time in Venezuela” (dir. Anabel Rodríguez Ríos)

• Special Mention: “Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust” (dir. Ann Kaneko)

Black Lens Jury Award ($5,000)

• Jury: Donna Dabbs (Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival), Milwaukee-born actress AzMarie Livingston (“Empire”), Tyshun Wardlaw (local filmmaker, MFF alum “Growing Up Milwaukee,” 2020 Cream City Cinema Jury Award winner)

• Winner: “Mama Gloria” (dir. Luchina Fisher)

• Special Mention: “How It Feels to be Free” (dir. Yoruba Richen)

Cream City Cinema Jury Award (3 awards totaling $10,000)

• Jury: Veronica Barbosa (Full Spectrum Features), Beth Barrett (SIFF), Monika Leska (New Orleans Film Society)

• Winner ($5,000): “The Heartland” (dir. Marquise Mays)

• Winner ($2,500): “Background Material” (dir. Britany Gunderson)

• Winner ($2,500): “25 Weeks: A Wisconsin Pizza Harvest” (dir. Charlie Tennessen)

Pitch Contest ($15,000)

• Jury: Milwaukee-born Robert Patla (Apple), Tiffany Tenille (MFF alum “Jezebel” )

• Winner: “The Good Land” (dir. Andrew Swant and scr. Michaela Murry)

Audience awards include:

• Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Award for Best Short ($1,000): “Tulip” (dirs. Andrea Love and Phoebe Wahl)

• Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Award for Best Feature ($2,000): “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” (dirs. Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler)

More information on Festival awards is available here.

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