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by Nigel M Smith
October 5, 2010 2:55 AM
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Milwaukee Film Festival Sees Attendance Double for Successful Second Edition

A scene from Yeo-haeng-ja's "A Brand New Life." [Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Film Festival]

Yeo-haeng-ja's "A Brand New Life," and Robin Hessman's "My Perestroika," were the big winners at the 2010 Milwaukee Film Festival which just wrapped last Sunday, topping the Fiction Competition and Documentary Competition respectively. Each film walked away with a $2,500 cash prize.

The award ceremony marked the end of the 11-day event, presented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This year, the second edition of the festival, saw ticket sales increase fifty percent from its kick off in 2009.

"The turnout for and excitement about this year’s festival truly blew us away," said Jonathan Jackson, Executive and Artistic Director for Milwaukee Film. "We knew we were putting on an incredible festival, but to see the crowds and hear the applause night after night just helped drive it home that what we’re doing really means something to the people of this community. It’s both humbling and very exhilarating."

Contributing to this year's success were the sold-out three theater screenings of the closing night film "Buried," from director Rodrigo Cortes, and opening night film, Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine."

Other highlights included a visit from Susan Sarandon, who came to accept a career achievement award, and to present a special screening of "Thelma and Louise;" a packed screening of Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman" (winner of the Best Feature Audience Award), which was followed by a panel discussion on the education system; several U.S. premieres, including Hans Petter's "A Somewhat Gentle Man," starring Stellan Skarsgard; and the second U.S. screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Palme d'Or winning "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives."

"We’re so proud of this year’s festival, and now we’re set to take a few deep breaths and jump right in getting plans started for the 2011 festival," said Jackson.

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4 Comments

  • Stewart Nusbaumer | October 7, 2010 1:35 AMReply

    Christian,

    I made a mistake. It's not necessarily an increase in pass sales that increased attendance by 50 percent, but the increased use of the passes, such as with you. To get 50 percent increase I'm sure there had to be an increased in pass sales, but not necessarily corresponding to the 50 percent increase in attendance.

  • Stewart Nusbaumer | October 6, 2010 10:02 AMReply

    Christian,

    Interesting, you believe an increase in the passes may have zipped attendance up that high? A 50 percent attendance increase because of increased pass sales? It's good if attendance did double and this was from a combination of ticket and pass sales, and not freebies. But I agree that a break-down of the numbers would be nice.

    Since there is now a new editor at IndieWire, now might be the time to take the "radical" step to actually converse with your readers. First, why what is stated in the head is not explained in the body of the article, a basic journalistic principle? Second, where are the hard numbers?

  • Christian Vettrus | October 6, 2010 6:19 AMReply

    Stewart, that is a good question. At least it started as one.

    However, it went wrong quickly thereafter.

    I can say that I know that they exceeded their attendance numbers of the previous years festival on day four of this edition. Ticket sales might not be the best indicator, because it doesn't account for passes purchased, which allow guests to see any film in the festival.

    I was a pass holder, and I saw 33 films while using it, for example. Passes cost either $200 or $300 for the public, depending upon when they were purchased.

    Having spent every free minute for 11 days there I can say that they seemed to have tripled their attendance this year from my point of view. I'd like to see a detailed numbers break-down...

  • Stewart Nusbaumer | October 5, 2010 9:23 AMReply

    If ticket sales increased by 50 percent that is not a doubling of ticket sales. A doubling of ticket sales would be a 100 percent increase -- right? (Help, I'm really dismal on this math thing, but I think that is correct.) So, where did all the other people come from to double the attendance? Maybe gratis tickets? A street fair to boost the fest's numbers? An open bar opened to the public that was mobbed by every thirsty borderline drunk in the state? The fest's statistician was the open bar's best customer?