2020 COHORT

Meet the four incredibly talented Milwaukee filmmakers chosen for our inaugural Focus Finder cohort.


MAHDI ATIF

Mahdi Atif, also known by the pseudonym FreakishNerd, is a photographer, filmmaker, writer, and creative mind from Milwaukee. Through a variety of media, Atif is able to both explore and address real-world themes such as vulnerability, forms in nature, and the complexity of Black & Brown identity.


ERIC KLEPPE-MONTENEGRO

Eric Kleppe-Montenegro is a community-oriented documentary filmmaker based in Milwaukee’s South Side. Eric’s artistic process is focused on challenging harmful media narratives and uplifting the voices of grassroots change-makers. He is passionate about using the arts as a tool for social change and popular education.


SHANNON MCINNIS

Shannon McInnis has a BFA in Film from UWM where she co-founded the diversity-focused organization Reel Women. Her musical puppetry film, ANGELAAA, won a Cream City Cinema award at the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival. She’s worked professionally as a commercial producer for SRH (Harley Davidson, Palermo's) and on numerous independent features and short films.


TIERA TRAMMELL

Tiera Trammell is an independent filmmaker from Milwaukee. She began her undergraduate journey at Howard University, then eventually received a Bachelor’s in Journalism at UW-Milwaukee. Her goal is to increase the portrayal of Black people in film by creating stories that widen the scope of the Black experience.


2020 JURORS

ChloĆ« Walters - Wallace manages Firelight Media’s Artist Programs including the Firelight Documentary Lab, a fellowship that provides mentorship, funding, and access to first and second time filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities, and the Groundwork Regional Lab, which aims to expand the pipeline of emerging diverse documentary makers from the South, Midwest & US Territories. Previously, Chloe directed the New Orleans Film Society's Emerging Voices program which establishes meaningful connections between industry leaders and Louisiana based filmmakers of color, and launched the Southern Producers Lab, a regional program bringing together emerging producers from across the American South. Chloe has served on juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, Doc Society’s New Perspectives Fund, NYFA Women’s Fund, Creative Capital, Tricentennial Story Incubator, Reel South, CAAM, IDA Documentary Awards, Create Louisiana, & TFI If/Then Short Documentary Program. She lives between New Orleans & New York and is on the board of Court 13 Arts, Femme Frontera & Third Horizon.

Sean Weiner is the Director of Programs, Media Arts Lab at the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC). He oversees the Creative Culture program for filmmaker fellowships and residencies along with the education programs offered at the JBFC. His producing credits include Matthew Puccini’s Lavender (Sundance, Fox Searchlight), Crystal Kayiza’s Edgecombe (Sundance, POV), and Emily Ann Hoffman’s Nevada (Sundance, Vimeo Staff Pick). These shorts and many more were produced within Creative Culture – a program connecting filmmakers to the film industry and to one another through a guiding philosophy of inclusion and collaboration. He is a former director with the Upright Citizens Brigade and got his start directing films with the Private Cabin Collective. Sean studied in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at CUNY Hunter College and in the Cinema Studies BA at SUNY Purchase College where he continues to teach. 

Robert Patla is the Head of Talent Development at Apple. Until recently, he served as HBO's Talent Development and Programming Executive. A proud Milwaukee native, Patla has worked closely with Milwaukee Film to enhance and expand its Black Lens program.