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Introducing "The Milwaukee Show"
A preview of this year's festival line-up of the best new work in short film from local filmmakers.

Begong Ava, Begong Hele

Since its inception in 2009, the Milwaukee Film Festival (or MFF, for short) has presented “The Milwaukee Show,” an annual competitive showcase of the best new work in short film from local filmmakers that is part of the festival’s Cream City Cinema program.

The showcase, which gets its one-time festival showing tonight at 7 p.m. at the historic Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.), usually consists of a dozen short films that run the gamut in both filmmaking style and technique.

According to this year’s festival program, “These filmmakers may hail from the Milwaukee area, but their celebrations of the cinematically succinct have a truly worldwide scope…”

The 12 films that are screening as part of the 2013 Milwaukee Show are:

Before You (Michael T. Vollmann, director)

Begong Ava, Begong Hele (Heather Hass, director)

Cinders (Andrew Gralton, director)

The Glitch (Zijian Yan, director)

I Am (Karim Raoul, director)

Love You Still (Michael Viers, director)

Margaret Hue Would Like To Go To Mars (Anna Sampers, director)

Pluto and the Vessel (Harrison Browning, director)

The Quiet City (Brian McGuire, director)

Spectacle! (Andrew Swant, WC Tank, Erik Ljung, Kurt Raether, and Carol Brandt, directors)

USPS (Jessica Farrell, director)

Within A Stone’s Throw (Cecelia Condit, director)

It should be noted that nine of the 12 films in this year’s Milwaukee Show have ties to the UWM Film Department which is part of the university’s Peck School of the Arts, including Within A Stone’s Throw, directed by longtime faculty member Cecelia Condit.

Part of the fun of attending the Milwaukee Show is going into the screening largely unaware of what you’re about to see.

Of the short films shown, there always tends to be a handful or so that wow the audience in some respect. Last year, the Collaborative Cinema-produced The Vampire Formerly Known As Dracula, a genuinely funny satire where the old-fashioned, blood-thirsty count from Transylvania is given a modern makeover in order to compete with the likes of “Twilight’s” Edward Cullen, received the highest audience rating of any film that played the 2012 Milwaukee Show.

The film was directed by Nathaniel Schardin, a then-recent college graduate, and written by Ian Walls, who was a sophomore at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts at the time. Walls’ script, written during his participation in Collaborative Cinema’s Teenage Screenwriting Workshop, beat out 100 others that were taken under consideration (including 50 Adult Screenwriting Workshop scripts).

This year, Collaborative Cinema’s final film, Love You Still, directed by UWM film student Michael Viers and written by local teen Katie Theel, will screen.

Ask any filmmaker, and they’ll freely admit that short films are oftentimes the redheaded stepchildren of film festivals that also show feature-length fare. They just don’t get as much ink or attention as the features even if notable people are involved either in front of or behind the scenes. And honestly, in some instances the features don’t merit the attention upon viewing. Yet exceptionally well-made and/or entertaining shorts need all the attention they can get due to the fact that they aren’t readily shown or distributed.

For those of you still undecided about checking out the Milwaukee Show, bet you didn't know this interesting fact: In three of the past four years, local filmmakers who’ve had work shown in The Milwaukee Show have gone on to win the festival’s juried Milwaukee Filmmaker-In-Residence prize which consists of a $5,000 cash prize and production services package that is valued at more than $20,000, as well as a yearlong residency with Milwaukee Film, and a festival screening of your residency project once completed.

In 2009, UWM Film alum John Roberts won the residency prize for his work on Mary’s Friend, a Tim Burton-esque mix of hand-drawn and stop-motion animation. His residency project, The Wheel, an expertly made, steampunk allegory about one man’s hope to maintain order despite sibling rivalry rearing its ugly head, won the Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Award for best short after playing the 2011 Milwaukee Show. With that second win, Roberts became the first filmmaker to have won more than one prize at the festival. The Wheel has since go onto play various film festivals around the country picking up several honors along the way, including the Grand Jury Prize at the inaugural Shot on RED Film Festival in 2012.

In 2010, former UWM Film Lecturer Tate Bunker won for his work on Mickey Burgermeister. He showed his residency project, Studies in Space, at last year’s festival to a receptive crowd. And in 2011, another UWM alum, Michael Hawkins-Burgos, won for his work on the inventive, almost-silent film Don’t Go.

The Milwaukee Show is consistently ranked among the most popular events during the Milwaukee Film Festival -- both in terms of anticipation and attendance -- and routinely sells out in advance, as is the case this year.

Only rush tickets are available. That means advanced tickets are no longer available. You can join the rush tickets line at the venue to buy any unclaimed seats. Rush tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis and go on sale 15 minutes prior to showtime. Rush tickets cost $10 and are CASH ONLY. NO DISCOUNTS.

The Milwaukee Show screens tonight (Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013) at 7 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.). The program runs approximately 96 minutes.

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