MKE Film : About Us

Jonathan Jackson, Artistic & Executive Director
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Jonathan Jackson moved to Milwaukee 15 years ago to study filmmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) - just a week before classes started, and having never stepped foot in Wisconsin before. He previously served as the artistic director for the Milwaukee International Film Festival, and directed film programming there from 2003 to 2007. Previously, he worked as a teacher for the UWM Film Department, as a freelance writer for the Shepherd Express, as curator of film programs for the Milwaukee Art Museum, and as program manager of the UWM Union Theatre. In 2011, Jonathan was honored with a Milwaukee Business Journal "40 under 40" Award.

Kyle Heller, Managing Director
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Kyle Heller has worked with Milwaukee Film since its establishment in 2008. Currently, he oversees financial management, IT, and human resources. During the festival, he also oversees merchandise and box office management. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Kyle previously worked as the Operations Director for Milwaukee Film.

Kristen Coates, Operations Director
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Kristen Coates has been involved with Milwaukee Film since 2011. She holds an MBA and graduate certificate in Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her past festival experience includes working for the Sundance Film Festival, the San Francisco Film Society, the Provincetown Film Festival, and the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. She has worked on both independent and major motion pictures, and was a founding writer for The Film Stage. At Milwaukee Film, Kristen oversees event management, theatre operations, office management, production, transportation, venues, and volunteers.

Cara Ogburn, Education Director
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Cara Ogburn is the Education Director at Milwaukee Film. Originally from Seattle, she came to Milwaukee in 2002 to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2011, she joined Milwaukee Film in a seasonal capacity as Panels Producer, a role she held for two years. With a background in teaching at the college level, interdisciplinary scholarship, and academic events coordination, she is pleased to oversee the Youth Education, Filmmaker Services, and Public Forums branches of Milwaukee Film’s programs. She is still working on her dissertation.

Jessica Bursi, Development Director
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Jessica Bursi is the Development Director for Milwaukee Film. A Midwest native, she lived in Los Angeles for 11 years, working primarily at The Film Foundation, an organization founded by Martin Scorsese and dedicated to raising awareness for film preservation. In 2013, Jessica returned to the Midwest to be closer to family and joined the Milwaukee Film team, where she is thrilled to continue helping ensure that important and entertaining films continue to be seen by new and appreciative audiences.

Anna Sampers, Grant Writer & Shorts Programmer
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Anna Sampers writes grants for Milwaukee Film and programs the Shorter Is Better section of the annual film festival. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Anna received her BFA in Film, with a double minor in Film Studies and Spanish. Anna is also an accomplished, award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at the Wisconsin Film Festival and the Ivy Film Festival, among others.

Kristopher Pollard, Membership Manager
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Kristopher Pollard is Milwaukee Film’s Membership Manager.  He studied Literature at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, before moving to Milwaukee 12 years ago.  Before coming to Milwaukee Film, Kristopher was an Executive Assistant at Lubavitch of Wisconsin and an assistant manager with the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops.  He is also an artist and illustrator (going by the name Kpolly) whose work has been shown in galleries and publications nationwide.

Jaclyn O'Grady, Programming Manager
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Hailing from River Falls, Wisconsin, Jaclyn is very happy to be returning to America’s Dairyland to join the Milwaukee Film team. After studying Cinema and Media Culture at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, she threw herself into the realm of itinerant film festival work and spent seven years on the road. Highlights include roles with Sundance Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Doha Tribeca Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Outfest, and Sound Unseen Duluth. Jaclyn remains a member of the Dinosaur Appreciation Committee (Sundance chapter), and enjoys spending her free time eating cheese, reading '60s sci-fi paperbacks, and listening to '90s movie soundtracks (frequently all at once).

Kristina Skagen, Marketing Manager
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Kristina Skagen is the Marketing Manager at Milwaukee Film.  A Milwaukee native, Kristina is passionate about the Greater Milwaukee community.  With a degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Kristina has worked at various corporations over the past ten years, including work in program management and leadership development.  Likewise, she has experience with non-profits and is involved with several community organizations.  Kristina came on board in 2014 as the festival’s Hospitality Coordinator and is excited to return to Milwaukee Film in a Marketing capacity.

Megan Benedict, Executive and Programming Assistant
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Megan Benedict is the Executive and Programming Assistant at Milwaukee Film. Originally from the Sovereign State of Winneconne, she moved to Milwaukee in 2009 to pursue degrees in Film Studies, Advertising, and LGBT Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After volunteering at the festival, Megan became Milwaukee Film's Program Book Intern in 2011, Features Programming Intern in 2012, and seasonal Marketing Assistant in 2013. Megan also served on Milwaukee Film's street team for two years and on the Features Screening Committee in 2012. In addition, Megan was a Programming Intern for the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013, and worked as a seasonal Pass/Package Sales Assistant at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Ben Balcom - Technical Director

Ben Balcom is an artist, educator, and the Technical Director at Milwaukee Film. Born in Boston and raised in Evanston, IL, Ben moved to Milwaukee in 2011 to pursue an MFA in filmmaking at UWM. He joined the Milwaukee Film seasonal staff in 2011 as a projectionist. Along with his work at the festival, Ben is also an associate lecturer at UWM and curator of a small neighborhood screening space in Riverwest called Microlights, which specializes in underground and experimental cinema. His own film and video work addresses everything from metaphysics and the moon, to hand massages and household objects. It's pretty weird.

Jeff Kurz - Production Consultant

Jeff Kurz is a Production Consultant for Milwaukee Film, overseeing its Filmmaker-in-Residence program and other production initiatives, as well as a screenwriting mentor and feature selection committee member. He’s a Racine, WI native, a graduate of UW-Madison and a former Miramax Films studio executive (where he worked on movies like The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction, and Scream). As a writer/producer through his production company, Belle City Pictures, he has deals with Film 4 in London and Vin Diesel’s One Race Films in Los Angeles. Jeff is also an Associate Lecturer in UW-Milwaukee’s Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres.