By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published May 10, 2023 at 3:01 PM Photography: Milwaukee Film

Milwaukee movie fans, rejoice! The best two weeks of the calendar year are back, as the 2023 Milwaukee Film Festival is back on a big screen near you April 20 through May 4. For ticket and pass info, click here – and we'll see you at the movies! 

The Milwaukee Film Festival is over, but the celebration continues on as the film organization today announced its attendance numbers for the past two-week cinema extravaganza, which was an improvement over 2022's results. 

Across more than 280 movies over 15 days, the 2023 edition drew 29,718 movie lovers to its in-person film festival screenings – a 58 percent increase over the attendance last year in its return to in-theater screenings and events. That number's still down from the festival's pre-pandemic numbers, but considering the prior editions often featured more venues and therefore more screenings (2019, for instance, had double the locations) as well as no virtual component option, the 2023 in-person results – combined with raising more than $215,000 through its Double Up campaign – marks another strong step forward for the festival. 

A strong step forward that came complete with a lot of very strong movies on its screens (such as "Riceboy Sleeps," my personal favorite not only of the festival but of the entire year thus far). And that's not even including the festival's annual Allen H. (Bud) and Suzanne L. Selig Audience Award winners. Voted upon by viewers, this year's winners were the opening night documentary "Mom & Dad's Nipple Factory" in the feature category and "Troy" in the shorts category. 

"It was wonderful to see our audiences filling cinemas again this year and to hear, over and over, how much they were glad to be back with us in person to enjoy great films," said Cara Ogburn, Milwaukee Film’s Artistic Director, in a release. "From the opening night world premiere of our Audience Award-winning 'Mom & Dad’s Nipple Factory' to closing night’s packed house for 'A Disturbance in the Force' – on May the Fourth, no less – this year’s festival was such a joy to share with our festival community."

While the festival is over, there's no need to be despondent. In fact, you can already start looking ahead to next year's edition as Milwaukee Film, after recapping the past, moved ahead to the future by announcing its dates for the 2024 festival: April 11-25.

And while you wait until next spring – only 337 days away! – the 2023 festival still lives on at the Oriental Theatre. The Milwaukee Film East Side hub has booked encore showings of several Best of Fest selections – including the buzzy eco-thriller "How to Blow Up a Pipeline" screening now and the international drama "Joyland," hitting the big screen starting Friday. For more information on showings and showtimes, visit Milwaukee Film's website. And we'll keep seeing you at the movies!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.