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Milwaukee Film Festival Catalyzes Growth and Bolsters Oriental Theatre

Bud & Sue Selig provide $1,500,000 Challenge Grant to Milwaukee Film
Science Fair Receives Audience Award and Women In Film Award


MILWAUKEE - Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - Milwaukee Film reached two major strategic milestones during its 10th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by Associated Bank.  The non-profit organization surpassed the 5,000 member mark, a 31% increase since the conclusion of the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival, cementing its position as one of the country’s largest organizations of its kind. The 2018 festival also hosted the launch of the public phase of a $10 million capital campaign, the largest fundraising effort in Milwaukee Film’s history. The Take A Seat campaign, heralding the public phase of the ongoing $10 million capital campaign, was announced at the Opening Night screening of Science Fair, along with a $1.5 million challenge grant by Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig.


Individuals, groups, and organizations can meet the Selig $1.5 million challenge by pledging support for the renovation and restoration of the historic Oriental Theatre by sponsoring a new seat in the renovated theatre (, or making a capital campaign contribution, by becoming a member, or upgrading their current membership to Milwaukee Film. To date, the organization reports over $7,575,000 raised with over 120 sponsored seats, nearly $600,000 raised during the 15-day festival alone.


"2018 has proven to be a year of unprecedented growth and evolution for Milwaukee Film, on many levels,” remarked Milwaukee Film CEO and Artistic Director Jonathan Jackson. “Our 10th Anniversary film festival proved to be an incredible celebration of the strength of film culture and appreciation in our region, the advancement of our efforts to restore and revive the iconic Oriental Theatre, and the humbling and generous outpouring of financial support for our organizational mission and vision from across the entire community, setting Milwaukee FIlm on a sustainable path for growth”


Recipients of this year’s Allan H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Awards for Best Feature and Best Short include Science Fair, directed by Milwaukee native Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster, and Liberty Hill, directed Katie Graham, respectively. Costantini is also the recipient of the organization’s inaugural Women in Film Award, presented by Live Wire Productions, which awards $2,500 to the top rated feature length film directed by a woman.


Science Fair is currently playing as part of the Oriental Theatre’s Best of Fest program, which features several hit films from the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival, including Free Solo, which screened as the Super Secret Member Screening to over 1,500 members. Of note, Free Solo opened last weekend to the best opening of any film since Milwaukee Film took over the Oriental Theatre on August 10, and secured one of the best box office openings of any film in the last ten years at the Oriental Theatre.

The 10th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival is one of the top 10 largest film festivals in the country, and welcomed over 78,000 attendees including nearly 200 filmmakers, guests, and industry professionals, and served over 8,000 area youth through Education Screenings and Reel Talks programs.




Science Fair
(2018 | USA | dirs. Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster)




Liberty Hill
(2018 | USA | dir. Katie Graham)


Presented by Live Wire Productions


Science Fair
(2018 | USA | dirs. Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster)




About Milwaukee Film

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. The organization is one of the largest of its kind in the country with over 5,000 members. Milwaukee Film recently launched the Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance, an industry pillar with over 400 members dedicated to stimulating and growing the filmmaking economy in southeastern Wisconsin. In addition, Milwaukee Film operates the magnificent Oriental Theatre, a historic three-screen cinema committed to high-quality and accessible film and education programming. The 10th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival took place October 18 - November 1, 2018. For more information, or to become a member, visit us online at


Facebook: | Twitter: @mkefilm | Instagram: @mkefilm


About the Milwaukee Film Board of Directors

Milwaukee Film’s independent board is made up of the following members: Chris Abele (Past Board Chair); John P. Bania; Donna Baumgartner; Elizabeth Brenner; Karen Ellenbecker; Alexander P. Fraser; Cecelia Gore; Bill Haberman (Past Board Chair); Susan Haise; Katie Heil; Patti Keating Kahn (Board Chair Elect); Tracey L. Klein (Immediate Past Board Chair); Michael G. Klein; Michael J. Koss Jr.; Mary Ann LaBahn; Alexander Lasry; Steve Laughlin (Past Board Chair); Emilia Layden; Michael R. Lovell; Marianne Lubar; Mark Mone; Kenneth W. Muth; Barry Poltermann; Bob Pothier; John Ridley; Joseph A. Rock; Ramona Rogers-Windsor; Lacey Sadoff; Dave Stamm; Julia Taylor; John Utz; Emeritus members: Tom Barrett; Jacqueline Strayer

Posted by: Tom Fuchs