There has never been a better time to be a filmmaker in Milwaukee. This weekend sees the opening of the John Ridley-backed No Studios, a filmmaking and artistic hub located in the Pabst Brewery Complex. Next week boasts the beginning of the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival, a 15-day behemoth featuring oodles of local talent. Oh, and don’t forget the third annual Film Girl Film Festival (formerly the Milwaukee Women’s Film Festival), which kicks off tonight at the Underground Collaborative.
“I created the festival because I wanted to give women more of a voice, and I was tired of writing about the problem,” says festival director Andrea Thompson. “A few friends of mine had set up a horror film festival, the Twisted Dreams Film Festival, and I thought, if they can do it, why can’t I?”
Film Girl Film Festival will feature more than 50 films. Included in the mix is a feature-length documentary that explores the life of acclaimed science-fiction novelist Ursula K. Le Guin (opening night selection Worlds Of Ursula K. Le Guin, directed by Arwen Curry), and a slew of short films that cover everything from Milwaukee’s Para Con (Robyn Di Giacinto’s This Is Para Con) to the need for more women leaders everywhere (Kirthi Nath’s More Women Leaders Needed Everywhere).
There has always been a need for more women in filmmaking, too, and 2018 seems like the year that that need is finally being addressed. (Nearly half of the films at this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival are directed by women.)
“Things have mostly changed for the better, with women getting more of a voice, and a lot of powerful men being held accountable for their actions,” Thompson says. “But just when I thought we were moving forward, the Kavanaugh hearings revealed just how far some people are pushing back against the seemingly simple idea of treating women like human beings. So there is a real danger that everything women have fought for could be lost. And there’s many women of color who have been made to feel unwelcome by white feminists. One thing I can be proud of about my festival is that while it does have a way to go in terms of diversity, it has become steadily more diverse every year. I’ve worked hard to make diversity a part of the festival, both in terms of lineup and behind the scenes, such as the jurors who rate the films.”
Tickets to the Film Girl Film Festival are available now. According to Thompson, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to organizations working to reunite families separated at the border.