MKE Moms Guide to the Milwaukee Film Festival

Milwaukee Film Festival

Allow me to introduce you to my absolute favorite fall event….

The Milwaukee Film Festival

Starting on September 22 and running through Oct. 6, this amazing film fest is 15 days packed full of incredible feature films in every genre you could imagine. It rivals some of the best film events in the world and with over 300 films, you are sure to find one (or if you’re a film geek like me, dozens) you want to see.

Like action films? Drama? Foreign films? Documentaries? Sports? Kids? Music? This family-friendly film festival truly has something for everyone. Here’s what you need to know:

Shorter is Better

Start here – the short program is not to be missed. Date Night Shorts, Shorts About Sports, Animated Shorts (for grown ups!) and more. Each collection contains between 6 and 9 short films that range in their format and style. The storytelling is fantastic and you will be amazed at what filmmakers can accomplish in a small amount of time, both visually and emotionally. These are often the films we talk about long after the film has ended. If your babysitter can only come one night, pick one of these.

Rated K for Kids

One of the best parts of the Milwaukee Film Festival is the Rated K: For Kids program. Each year, the festival includes a fantastic selection of shorts and feature films for kids ages 3-12 so your little film-lover can join in the fun. The Kids Shorts series is always a favorite. They make it easy: Size Small is a collection of 13 animated film shorts for kids ages 3+. Size Medium has 9 shorts, a mix of animation and live action, for ages 6+. Size Large is for ages 9+ and contains a a variety of genres, from fiction to documentary and everything in between. (Note: Some of the Size Large films are subtitled.) This year there are also two feature films: Oddball (ages 6+) and Phantom Boy (ages 9+). The recommendations for ages are pretty spot-on so you can trust the content will be appropriate.

guide book

Beauty and the Beast

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Disney classic and it’s back on the big screen for one day at the Film Festival. And even more exciting for your music-loving little one? It’s a sing along, with lyrics included on screen! Only one showing, Sunday Oct. 2nd at the Oriental Theater. There will be a line for this one, so buy tickets ahead of time and get there early!


It is a film festival, so audience ratings determine awards for the film makers. At each film, you will receive a ballot where you can rate your movie. Kids love this – especially for the Short films where they get to vote on each of the films they see. (We usually do it in the minute or two minutes between each film short!) The voting makes for great conversation about which ones we liked best and why. And there is often a film that I loved (OMG, it’s a 5!) only to look over as my husband tears the line at the “2”. Go figure.

The Theaters

If you’ve never been to any of Milwaukee’s historic theaters, this is a fantastic time to try them out. The Milwaukee Film Festival takes place at 5 theaters throughout the city. The Oriental Theater is our favorite – a beautiful space that will amaze even your youngest kids. The giant stairway flanked by marble lions, the enormous theater, the balcony! This is THE classic theater experience. Have a pizza or snacks delivered right to your seat at Fox Bay or under the twinkly stars at Avalon in Bay View. Grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine!) at the Times and Downer theaters and settle into the smaller theaters for a more intimate setting. Take the time to explore the restaurants in these neighborhoods before or after the show.


I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time – a lot of the shows do sell out. They are available right now online or in person at the Oriental Theater. (Once the festival opens, you can buy tickets at any of the participating theaters.) Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids.

So head over to MKE Film and take a look. Or even better, go pick up a Festival guide book. Find one here.  Settle in with a beverage and look through all of the amazing films being shown this year. And then stop back here and let us know what you’re excited to see!


, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

HTML Snippets Powered By :