Milwaukee Film Festival to be held in May, most likely virtually

The Oriental Theater on Milwaukee’s East Side.

Milwaukee Film announced it will hold its annual film festival in May 2021, most likely as a largely virtual event, just six months after wrapping up this year’s festival.

The nonprofit organization said it will pattern next year’s Milwaukee Film Festival after this year’s event, which was held over the virtual platform CineSend, due to COVID-related gathering restrictions.

“We’ve seen some positive long-term developments for fighting COVID-19 in the news recently, but realistically we are planning for a 2021 festival that’s primarily, or possibly exclusively, virtual,” said Jonathan Jackson, chief executive officer of Milwaukee Film

The 2021 festival will take place May 6-20.

The all-virtual 2020 festival, which was held Oct. 15-29, recorded attendance of 66,268. The 2019 in-person festival drew a record 87,618 attendees.

“As the Milwaukee Film Festival has evolved into the community-centric event that Milwaukee knows and loves, we’ve discussed extensively the benefits of moving to the spring,” Jackson said. “From both a community and an industry perspective, a spring festival would better suit our needs and serve our audience. It’s odd, but the disruption created by the pandemic has actually played a significant role in opening up this opportunity.

Milwaukee Film said in its announcement that producing next year’s festival on an abbreviated timeline will allow it to “support a film industry that has faced enormous challenges, delays, and losses due to the pandemic.” It also indicated that it plans to shift the annual event from the fall to the spring beyond 2021.

The festival lineup will be released in April. Details of any in-person film events will also be shared then, Milwaukee Film said.

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