About the Reel Talks Program

Interested in hosting a Reel Talk?  Fill out the 2022 Festival Reel Talks Request Form here!


UPDATE 8/20/20: Milwaukee Film’s Reel Talks program brings visiting and local filmmakers to high school, college, and after-school learning spaces to inspire young people by talking informally about their work. Because of this year's exceptional conditions, we plan to continue to offer virtual Reel Talks year-round in order to stay flexible and serve the needs of your students and educational environment.

Our 2021-22 Reel Talks roster may include local filmmakers who live and work in our community, as well as filmmakers from around the nation and the globe, whose works we will screen for our Cultures & Communities Festival, have screened in our spring Milwaukee Film Festival, or in recent past years of these events.

Each Reel Talk session (45-60mins) usually involves screening of clips from the film and an informal, facilitated discussion of the film’s content and/or the guest’s career.

Our list of filmmakers and films are still TBD, and we will work with you to find the right fit. This form is to gather interest and get a better sense of what classroom engagement approaches will be preferable to you. Please fill out the interest form as soon as possible (or multiple times throughout the year as you see an opportunity for a virtual visitor to your class) and we will be in touch when we see an appropriate match between our filmmaker friends and your classroom goals.

Note: Visits are subject to filmmaker availability.

Feel free to email our School Programs Coordinator, Ian Cessna (youthfilmian@mkefilm.org), with any additional questions.


Download a PDF of our Year-Round Reel Talk Offerings here!


Established in 2014, Milwaukee Film’s Reel Talks program brings visiting and local filmmakers to high school, college, and after-school learning spaces to talk about their work and inspire and educate young people. Each Reel Talk session lasts about 45–60 minutes and usually involves a screening of excerpts from the film and an informal discussion of the film’s content and/or the guest’s career. We offer two kinds of Reel Talks: one as a year-round program and the other as a festival-specific program. Visits are subject to filmmaker availability.



Year-Round Reel Talks

Milwaukee Film’s Reel Talks program brings visiting and local filmmakers to high school, college, and afterschool learning spaces to inspire young people by talking informally about their work.

Year-round (non-festival) Reel Talks involve local filmmakers who live and work in our community and/or filmmakers who are visiting Milwaukee. Each Reel Talk session (45-60 minutes) usually involves screening of clips from the film and an informal, facilitated discussion of the film’s content and/or the guest’s career.

Note: visits will be are subject to filmmaker availability.


2018 | 11 min | short documentary
Natasha Woods (Director)
Synopsis: A family portrait that traces a mother's journey from Brazil to rural Iowa while echoing the maker's own experiences. Blending landscapes, storytelling, and personal documents together in an attempt to understand radical memory.



First Night
2019 | 16 min | short fiction
Joseph David Bowes (Producer), Nicklas Hendrickson (Director)
Synopsis: A young woman's brutal and transformative first night as a vampire.



Garden City Beautiful
2019 | 12 min | short fiction
Ben Balcom (Director)
Synopsis: One sunny afternoon in the middle west, suspended in a time between, two commuters daydream of a life lived otherwise.


Give Me Liberty
2019 | 110 min | fiction feature
Moira Tracey (Production Designer)
Synopsis: Medical transport driver Vic is running further and further behind schedule, as he shuttles his Russian grandfather and √©migr√© friends to a funeral, navigates closed roads, and befriends one of his clients, Tracy (Lauren “Lolo” Spencer in a breakout performance), a vibrant young woman with ALS. This locally made Sundance/Cannes indie darling returns to Milwaukee in an encore homecoming tour, showcasing a hilarious, compassionate, and intersectional portrait of American dreams and disenchantment.


Last Will
2019 | 15 min | short fiction
Emily Kuester, Ian Cessna (Producers)
Synopsis: After the death of their older sister, two estranged sisters are brought back together. They discover they have been left her entire estate, but only if they first complete a list of tasks she has left for them with her eccentric lawyer. From going back to their favorite childhood diner, to kissing an old crush, to skinny dipping, the list makes them look hard at their relationship with their sister and with each other.



My First and Last Film
2019 | 69 min | documentary feature
Kristin Peterson Kaszubowski (Producer), Tracey Thomas (Director)
Synopsis: When filmmaker Tracey Thomas turned 60 she began interviewing dozens of other 60-year-olds, discussing themes of life, death, love, the afterlife, and more. But when her romantic and filmmaking partner, Dennis, passed away suddenly, Thomas’ work took on a much deeper meaning as she grappled with grief while continuing her project. This sensitive and deeply personal film, featuring many local subjects, ruminates on love and loss and the power of film to explore the most unanswerable of questions.


On Hands
2019 | 70 min | documentary feature
Lajwanti P. Waghray (Director/Producer)
Synopsis As technology overtakes more and more of society it’s easy to forget that one of the most powerful tools people have is their hands. Contemplative and observational, On Hands follows the work of a variety of makers who use their hands to create, offering a unique experience they couldn’t achieve otherwise. This meditative doc from Laj P. Waghray examines the quiet power of hands and the beauty of what they can create.

Rosario’s Milwaukee
2018 | 2 min | short fiction
Xarion Latimore (Director) **Near-Peer, MFF2019 Milwaukee Youth Show Alum**
Synopsis: After seeing The Hate U Give, I was deeply inspired. I saw in the film, struggles within my own city. I wanted to have the same message of power within the community, and most importantly the youth. I created Rosario as an interpretation of Starr and wanted to show the same themes of racial tension in a high school setting, as well as what teenagers view happening around them in our actual lives. I wanted there to be an emphasis on the fact that it isn't only on the big screen but on our televisions and cell phones every day.


Saebra & Carlyle – “Rabbit Hole”
2019 | 4 min | music video
Brian Klewin (Director)
Synopsis: A woman with a killer past gives the crown to her new love. Filmed in one true continuous take.


We Were Hardly More Than Children
2019 | 9 min | documentary short
Cecelia Condit (Director/Producer)
Synopsis: We Were Hardly More Than Children tells an epic tale of an illegal abortion as lived by two women on a perilous journey through a world that has little concern for their survival.
Content Notes: Descriptions of blood, potential triggers of traumatic memories of abortion. Encourage students to take care of themselves.


Sons of Dogs (Hijos De Perros)
2019 | 15 min | documentary short
Lucio Arellano (Director/Producer)
Synopsis After the grip of the cartels begins to loosen, an immigrant Mexican family living in the United States is granted the chance to re-visit their hometown of Plateros, Zacatecas. Home of the Santo Nino de Atocha (Holy Infant of Atocha), who is believed to have guided local miners out of collapsed mines, the shrine stands as a testament to the irony displayed between hope and complacency in Plateros. This documentary shot in the observational mode offers viewers a glimpse into the lives of those living in this era, as well as the places they look towards to overcome distrust, irony, and fear.

Festival Reel Talks

Are you an in-school or after-school educator interested in having a festival guest (filmmaker, film subject, or other talent) visit your students? Check back in 2020 for the festival reel talks sign-up form!

Past Festival Reel Talks

  • Daje Shelton (subject) and Jeff Truesdell (producer)  For Ahkeem, MFF2017
  • Linda Saffire, Adam Schleninger (directors/producers), and Wendy Whelan (subject) – Restless Creature, MFF2017
  • Leila Djansi (director) – Like Cotton Twines, MFF2017
  • Jessie Auritt (director), Naomi Kutin, Ari Kutin, and Neshama Kutin (subjects) – Supergirl, MFF2017
  • Keith McQuirter (director) – Milwaukee 53206, MFF2016
  • Matthew Cherry (director) – 9 Rides, MFF2016
  • Shingo Usami (director) – RICEBALLS, MFF2016
  • Lacey Schwartz (director) – Little White Lie, MFF2015
  • Ty Hodges (director/actor), Ryan Destiny (actress) – A Girl Like Grace, MFF2015
  • Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt (director), Armando Lorenzo Munnet Rodriguez (subject), Carlos Alvarez (Subject) – Havana Motor Club, MFF2015
  • Grace Lee (director) – Off the Menu: Asian America, MFF2015
  • Jason Zeldes (director), Michael Klein (producer), Donte Clark (subject), Molly Raynor (subject), and D’Neise Robinson (subject) – Romeo is Bleeding, MFF2015
  • Darius Clark Monroe (director/subject) – Evolution of a Criminal, MFF2014