About the Reel Talks Program

Interested in hosting a Reel Talk? Fill out the 2019 Festival Reel Talks Request Form 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 mins) usually involves screening of clips from the film and an informal discussion of the film’s content and/or the guest’s career.


Below is a list of local filmmakers (and their films) who’ve expressed interest in visiting with area youth between March – May 2019. 

If you are interested in hosting a local filmmaker, please fill out the interest form by Friday, February 15th for our first round of visits. Or, if you’re seeing this late, we will add visits as capacity allows.

Note: visits will be are subject to filmmaker availability.


2018 | 12 min | short episodic fiction (one episode)
Syd Robinson (Actor)
Synopsis: Just another day in the life of a transman. Trevor and Len are getting into their groove, but with Trevor on hormones for egg harvesting, things are not as easy as they seem. A visit to the gynecologist makes Trevor question what he wants and who he wants it with.
Content Notes: Portrayals of intimacy, drug use
Thematic Elements: Identity politics, experiences of transpeople 


King Courteen - "Bucker Boy"
2018 | 3 min | music video
Damien Blue (Director)
Synopsis: King Courteen lives alone in the middle of nowhere, Utah. His rustic handmade bungalow has seen better days; wood planks and walls have been tattered and warped by brutal summers and unforgiving winters. Can King harness the energy - one more time - to collect more wood and fix the shelter he calls home?
Thematic Elements: Music, rural environments



Dr. Smith's African American Museum and Black Veteran Archive
2018 | 9 min | short documentary
Madeline Power, Emily Kuester (Producers)
Synopsis: Meet Dr. Smith, an eclectic artist who has turned his Louisiana home into a sculpture garden of literally hundreds of figures from black history. He'll make you laugh out loud one minute and dig deep in your soul the next as he takes you - and three kids - on a tour of his self-styled Museum of African American History and Veteran Archives.  
Thematic Elements: Artist environments, African American history, youth education


El Color de la Libertad (The Color of Freedom)
2018 | 7 min | short documentary
Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, Wes Tank (Directors), Nora Justin (Producer), SistaStrings & Klassik (Musicians)
Synopsis: Amidst divisive national debate over immigration, the student-driven music video El Color De La Libertad gives voice to Milwaukee's Latino youth, providing a powerful perspective on freedom in the United States. This short combines the words of 7th grade students from Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School with the talents of Milwaukee-based musicians MC (mikal), Klassik, SistaStrings, and filmmaker Wes Tank.
Thematic Elements: Music, immigration, activism, community



Amanda Huff – “Gravetalking”
2018 | 4 min | music video
Kristin Peterson (Director), Dana Shihadah (Cinematographer), Amanda Huff (Musician)
Synopsis: “Gravetalking” illustrates the detachment that comes with coping with the death of a loved one. Explores this through romantic imagery, computer glitching, and an animate portrait.
Thematic Elements: Music, grief, elements of mythology, classical art, and sci-fi


The First Patient
2017 | 82 min | feature documentary
Chip Duncan (Director)
Synopsis The First Patient takes us behind the scenes as first-year medical students are introduced to the first patient they'll ever work on: human cadavers to be dissected during the medical rite of passage that is gross anatomy. Granted unprecedented access to this previously exclusive world, we follow the students, faculty, and body donors on a dramatic and emotional journey into the human body—receiving a true education into their chosen profession as well as a crash course in what it means to be human.
Content Notes: Cadavers in a medical/science setting
Thematic Elements: Medicine, science, death, ethics


Invisible Lines
2018 | 70 min | feature documentary
Laura Dyan Kezman, Nate Imig, Vianca Fuster (Directors)
Synopsis: What does segregation feel like? That question is the focus of Invisible Lines. Milwaukee residents share their firsthand experiences with segregation, racism and prejudice. No narrator. No script. Just conversations between people.
Thematic Elements: Community, race relations, Milwaukee


Meet Uncle Paul
2018 | 14 min | short documentary
Jessica Bursi (Director, Producer)
Synopsis: Meet Paul. 62-years-young - he's a lover of The Beatles, The Monkees, and The Terminator, and he just so happens to be living with Down syndrome. Tracing the trajectory of his life, Meet Uncle Paul tells Paul’s moving history (born into a family as loving as it large) through the current day where he contends with the early stages of dementia. A powerful reminder of the power of decency and compassion and a tribute to an unforgettably indomitable spirit.
Thematic Elements: Down syndrome, aging, family


Three Neighborhoods: People, Place, Purpose
2018 | 12 min | short documentary
Adam Carr, Wes Tank (Directors)
Synopsis In 2008, Joseph Zilber committed $50 million to support and catalyze work in three Milwaukee neighborhoods: Clarke Square, Lindsay Heights, and Layton Boulevard West. In Three Neighborhoods, we hear from the people who call these neighborhoods home
Thematic Elements: Immigration, exploring and celebrating community


Pet Names
2018 | 75 min | feature-length fiction
Carol Brandt (Director, Editor, multi-MFF alum), Dana Shihadah (Cinematographer), Meredith Johnston (Writer, Actor)
Synopsis: Shot entirely in and around Wisconsin, this appealingly off-center road movie has drawn comparison to Kelly Reichardt. Taking a brief sojourn from tending to her terminally ill mother, grad school dropout Leigh plans for a weekend in the woods, with her high school ex-boyfriend (and his adorable pug) tagging along for the ride. Filmed with the faded warmth of old Polaroids, their introspective getaway causes them to relitigate the past while looking toward their potential futures.
Content Notes: Romance. Recommended for High School audiences.
Thematic Elements: Growing up, identity, family


The Water Will Carry Us Home
2018 | 7 min | animated short
Gabrielle Tesfaye (Director)
Synopsis: Through living ritual and stop motion animation, The Water Will Carry Us Home reveals the story of stolen Africans being thrown off the slave ship whilst sailing through the Middle Passage. Upon crashing in the waves, a phenomenon happens when the presence of Yoruba Orishas dwelling in the water saves these spirits.
Thematic Elements: Mixed media, ancestral storytelling, healing, ritual, puppetry



Connect your students with near-peers from our 2018 Milwaukee Youth Show! These talented emerging filmmakers can provide fresh accounts of what it was like to pursue film in high school, and what helped them succeed.


2018 | 5 min | short fiction
Kyen Ditzenberger, Gabe Brusky (Directors)
Synopsis: After months of constant moving and being alone Cory settles down in what seems like a safe space in the vast forest he resides in. Upon the introduction of another scavenger, Cory has to make some hasty decisions.
Thematic Elements: Dystopia, Kafka-esque setting


We All Bleed Red**
2018 | 8 min | short documentary
Jacob Young (Director)
Synopsis: We All Bleed Red shares stories from those involved on the day of the Sikh Temple Shooting in 2012.
Content Notes: Journalistic
Thematic Elements: Hate crimes

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 2019 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