By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Feb 01, 2021 at 2:01 PM

Milwaukee Film always celebrates Black History Month with selections throughout February  – and even with the Oriental Theater still closed, that's not changing in 2021. In fact, the local film organization and its nationally recognized Black Lens program is going even bigger with a month-long festival of sorts, dedicating all of February's new virtual offerings to highlighting Black creators, voices and experiences. 

"Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens program serves to elevate Black filmmakers, and Black History Month is a tremendous opportunity to continue that mission, as well as celebrate the impact of African Americans across the arts and culture,” said Geraud Blanks, Cultures and Communities director for Milwaukee Film, in a release.

“This past year, more and more of our community has been engaged in conversations around the effects that centuries of racism and inequality have on Black lives and opportunity. With our Black History Month programming, we’re looking to use the power of film to advance those discussions and foster change.” 

In total, 30 films will be programmed for Milwaukee Film's virtual streaming platform throughout Black History Month, all focused on the diverse spectrum of Black experience and expression on screen. Selections include "Nationtime," William Greaves' long-lost and now restored documentary about the 1972 Black Political Convention; recent Milwaukee Film Festival standout docs "Growing Up Milwaukee" and "Coded Bias"; several shorts collections; a special one-night screening of the acclaimed romantic melodrama "Sylvie's Love"; "The Outside Story," a new indie drama starring the great Brian Tyree Henry; and much more. 

Here is the full list:

  • "Baddddd Sonia Sanchez"
  • "Black Boys"
  • "Coded Bias"
  • "Dope is Death"
  • "Growing Up Milwaukee"
  • "(In)visible Portraits"
  • "Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back"
  • "Nationtime"
  • "Olympia"
  • "The Outside Story"
  • "Pigeon Kings"
  • "Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution"
  • "The Road Up"
  • "The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show"
  • "Somewhere in the Middle"
  • "Sylvie's Love"
  • "That's Wild"
  • "Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance"
  • "Shorts Program 1: Emotional Health and Identity"
    • "Afro"
    • "Black Unscripted"
    • "The Lost Astronaut"
    • "Sankofa"
  • "Shorts Program 2: Black Love and Joy"
    • "Wali & Zuri"
    • "Pillars"
    • "Tender"
    • "Sonnie"
    • "Junebug"
  • "Shorts Program 3: Black Arts and Culture"
    • "Larry from Gary"
    • "Swing Man Blues"
    • "A Million Eyes"
  • "Shorts Program 4: HBCU Storytellers – 400 Years Later 'Free-ish"
    • "Part I: The Sankofa Journey"
    • "Part II: The Arrival"
    • "Part III: Confederate Monuments: Heritage or Hatred?"
    • "Part IV: Monuments That Heal"

Most of these films will be available throughout the month of February, while a select few – "Sylvie's Love," "Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back" and "Uprooted" – have limited screening dates. 

As for the events scheduled throughout the month, conversations and dialogues will focus on a weekly theme: Black Emotional Health and Identity on Feb. 1-7; Black Love and Joy on Feb. 8-14; STEM Week: Diversity in Tech on Feb. 15-21; and Cultures, Communities and Politics on Feb. 22-28. Set events include a conversation with musician and short film subject Kim Hill, a discussion about Black depiction and Black women in pop culture with esteemed writer Dr. Joan Morgan, a live recording of 88Nine's Diverse Disruptors podcast hosted by Tarik Moody and much more. For a full list, click here

Access to individual films and events will cost $3.99 to the general publicc and $1.99 for Milwaukee Film members, while passes to all Black History Month programming cost $24.99 to the general public and $19.99 for members. To purchase a pass and more, visit Milwaukee Film's website – and while you're there, make sure to check out their current Sofa Cinema selections as well. 

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.