Who We Are & What We Do

Milwaukee Film is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to entertaining, educating, and engaging our community through cinematic experiences, with a vision to make Milwaukee a center for film culture. We operate the magnificent Oriental Theatre, a historic cinema palace committed to high-quality and accessible film and education programming. Since 2009, the annual Milwaukee Film Festival has brought together film fans and filmmakers to celebrate the power of cinema. Our education programs and cultures and communities platform provide avenues toward making our community a more empathetic and equitable place for everyone to live.


Milwaukee Film offers exclusive monthly screenings of festival-quality films, ticket and merchandise discounts, early access to film festival tickets, private event invites, and other fantastic perks to its members.


MKE Film was founded in 2008 by Chris Abele and Bill and Carmen Haberman (the latter two of the Herzfeld Foundation) with the goal of putting on a world-class film festival to rival the world’s largest. But the team also had a vision of strengthening the film industry in their humble Milwaukee, a city not known for its film culture but one that had long had a vibrant yet little-known film scene, including a small-but-mighty filmmaking industry, the now-defunct Milwaukee International Film Festival, UW-Milwaukee’s renowned film department, and slews of film buffs, fans, heads, and maniacs.

In 2009, the Milwaukee Film Festival had its inaugural run. That year, MKE Film screened more than 100 films at three venues. In 2017, more than 300 festival-quality films were screened across five Milwaukee venues. Festival attendance has increased every year since its inception; in 2017, attendance hovered around 84,000, and about 4,000 of those folks were our beloved MKE Film members.

In addition to the annual Milwaukee Film Festival, MKE Film organizes year-round educational and community programming, helps manage the Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance, and operates the historic Oriental Theatre. We also produce a weekly film-related newsletter, host forums and other events, and indoctrinate local youths with the gospel of film and film studies.

In short, we’re a ragtag team of film lovers, scholars, and professionals who believe film and the filmgoing experience are powerful vehicles for social change and personal introspection. We seek to make our city, its communities, and the world better places by sharing cinematic experiences, instigating meaningful dialogues, and cultivating the local filmmaking economy.

Milwaukee Film Festival

In addition to our year-round programming and education efforts, we put on a little show called the Milwaukee Film Festival each year. As one of the nation's most well-attended film festivals and one of Milwaukee's most-beloved cultural events, there's something here for everyone.


If you have general questions or curiosities about Milwaukee Film, feel free to send them over to Kristopher at info@mkefilm.org. If you have a press or marketing/communications inquiry, contact our Director of Communications, Bre, at bre@mkefilm.org.