First Milwaukee International Film Festival bows Nov. 6-16

Milwaukee has joined the ranks of hundreds of cities with its first International Film Festival, Nov. 6-16 that will strongly emphasize Midwestern-made independent films.

Said managing director Jonathan Jackson, “We want to raise the awareness of this kind of work in the 12-state Midwest region, since these filmmakers don’t get large audiences at home.”

Another motivation for the event, he said, “was to build up the ethnic mosaic of the city and present a really international showcase of films that otherwise would not screen in Milwaukee.”

Founding sponsor is the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee’s Reader-like alternative newspaper. Publisher Louis Sortis, a former state representative, began brewing the idea 18 months ago and brought Jackson aboard in January. The festival is a separate non-profit organization working out of the Express’ downtown office.

Jackson had been program manager of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s University Cinema, screening four to six shows a week. Operations manager is Milwaukee native Rubina Shami who has worked for New York’s Tribeca Film Festival and others, and has a production background.

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