How to Make the Most of the Virtual Milwaukee Film Festival

Milwaukee Film is bringing its signature festival into your living room this month.

Look on the bright side: You won’t need to worry about what to wear, and there will be no long lines.

The popcorn might be a little lacking, though. This year, the Milwaukee Film Festival will be entirely virtual, with titles showing through Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV and Roku, or by streaming them through the Milwaukee Film website (

Another bonus is a lower ticket price (10 bucks a pop for single tickets), plus you can watch the film of your choice any time you like from Oct. 15-29. We asked Artistic Director Cara Ogburn what else to expect.

What are the pros and cons of taking the festival virtual?

We have some audience members who will have to learn new technology, but it’s also an opportunity to reach folks who may not have been able to access our in-person festival.

Has programming a virtual festival presented you with any unique challenges?

Ha! We’ve had to learn a whole new technology and language – especially to have filmmakers trust us with their work in a virtual setting. We’re trying to think of what works differently on a couch and without a large audience – so none of those programming moments where you know everyone will laugh or gasp – but really there are so many great films out there, those aren’t even losses.

Will attendees still be able to meet the featured filmmakers?

You’ll have opportunities to connect with filmmakers and the community through virtual Q&As and panels. It’s not going to be the same, but we’re trying to provide people a way to travel the world, to learn, to escape your own experience in life and build empathy with people whose lives might be very different from your own. And we think we can do that from the safety of our couches.

More to Explore


THE MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL isn’t the only event chock-full of film screenings taking place this month. Nō Studios – a local arts incubator co-founded by the Academy Award–winning filmmaker John Ridley – is hosting its second annual Social Justice Summit Oct. 15-18.

The summit, which will take place online, will include film screenings, panel discussions and performances by local artists. And all of the programming will relate in some way to at least one of four topics: the role that social media plays in the amplification of information or misinformation during protests, community policing, voter suppression, and the perception and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement abroad.

For more information, visit


Photo by Getty Images

From House to Home Theater

Have you reached the DIY stage of social distancing yet? Good. Because we’ve got another project for you: transforming your living room into a miniature cineplex. 


Make sure your TV is set to the ideal picture mode for movies. 

This function (find it in your settings menu) adjusts color, contrast, saturation and the like so what you see is closer to a theater experience – and to what the director intended you to see.

Pop some popcorn.

Or, better yet, buy some from a local maker like Lush Gourmet Popcorn. You can pick up bags – with flavors like Cookies-n-Cream and Maple Bourbon Bacon – from the flagship Sherman Phoenix location (3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave.), or at Ray’s Wine and Spirits (8930 W. North Ave., Tosa).

Dim the lights.

Close your blinds or pull your curtains tight. Nothing ruins a film faster than glare.

Get comfortable.

If you haven’t already, invest in a couple of pillows with great lumbar support. Because you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time on your sofa this fall.

Focus up.

Turn off your phone, the way you would if you were in a real theater. And if you find yourself tempted to check your email, just imagine someone shushing you.

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s October issue.

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Marla Hiller is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine. She is a junior at Boston University majoring in international relations and minoring in journalism