By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 05, 2018 at 5:16 PM

While we're still not done drooling over Milwaukee Film's newly revamped and re-energized Oriental Theatre, the organization has yet another pretty big project on its plate: the Milwaukee Film Festival, celebrating a decade of cinematic delight from Oct. 18 through Nov. 1. 

Milwaukee Film began announcing its film selections with an impressive slate of new categories and world premieres a few weeks ago, and today it introduced even more exciting news – both on and off screen – for its always strong Black Lens Program, which focuses on black stories and storytellers.  

Let's start off the screen, where Black Lens was not only rewarded with $7,500 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a part of its FilmWatch grant (for the second time now, no big deal), but also gifted $10,000 from HBO, which also joined on as a presenter for the program's two short film collections. 

"Receiving our second grant from the Academy in two years affirms the validity of our mission, the quality of the festival and the work of the filmmakers we showcase," said Black Lens co-programmer Geraud Blanks, in a press release. "Include HBO’s stamp of approval on our shorts program, and there is simply no other way to put it, we’ve arrived."

That's not all, as the festival will also host a Q&A with DeWanda Wise of Netflix's "She's Gotta Have It" at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 in the UWM Union Ballroom; a screening of the film "black enuf" followed by a moderated discussion with journalist Touré, director Carrie Hawkes and New York Times culture desk assistant editor Aisha Harris on Sunday, Oct. 28 in Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall; and its popular Groove Theory musical showcase at The Cooperage on Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. And before all of that, the Black Lens kick-off party will take place Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at Ivy House, featuring an overview of the selections for this year's festival. 

And speaking of those selections, here's the Black Lens lineup for the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival. (Ticket six-packs and festival passes are available now at Milwaukee Film's website.)

"A Boy. A Girl. A Dream"

Two strangers (Omari Hardwick of "Sorry to Bother You," Meagan Good from "Think Like a Man") spend the night talking, debating and connecting during election night 2016 – all captured in one long unbroken take by director and Milwaukee Film Festival alum Qasim Basir ("Destined" in 2017). 

"Black Lens Shorts: A Little Help From My Friends"

Officially presented by HBO, "Black Lens Shorts: A Little Help From My Friends" includes these five short films:

  • "Baby Steps" 
  • "Hair Wolf" 
  • "Moths & Butterflies"
  • "Still Water Runs Deep"
  • "War Paint"

"Black Lens Shorts: Be True To You"

Officially presented by HBO, "Black Lens Shorts: Be True To You" features these six short films:

  • "The Bill"
  • "Bodega"
  • "Forever"
  • "French Fries"
  • "Mr. Talented"
  • "Suitable"


A high schooler's carefree senior year is thrown a curveball when her mother, a popular local meteorologist, converts to Islam. The 17-year-old is left trying to accept her mother's new beliefs and customs while also coming to terms with her own developing sense of identity. 

"Little Woods"

In Nia DaCosta's star-studded directorial debut, a former drug smuggler (Tessa Thompson, "Annihilation" and "Thor: Ragnarok") trying to right her life in a gruff and desperate North Dakota fracking town gets pulled back into the illicit business when her pregnant sister (Lily James, "Downton Abbey") is at risk of losing her home. 

"Mighty Ground"

Delila Vallot's documentary follows Ronald Troy Collins as he attempts to climb out of his issues with addiction and mental illness, as well as out of his life on the streets, with the help of his incredible singing voice and love of music. 

"Mr. SOUL!"

The best variety/talk show you may never have heard of finally gets its deserved place in TV's pantheon with "Mr. SOUL!", which chronicles the SOUL! public television show and host Ellis Haizlip's under-sung place in pop culture as it brought in the great black poets, musicians, thinkers and more of its time. 

"One Bedroom"

Take it from one who's doing it right now as we speak: Moving sucks. That's especially the case for the couple in "One Bedroom," who spend their final afternoon in Brooklyn arguing, reminiscing and then eventually deciding if they're moving out together or in separate directions. 

"Sammy Davis, Jr. I've Gotta Be Me"

From the documentarian behind Milwaukee Film Festival alumnus like "Two Trains Runnin" and "ACORN and the Firestorm" comes a nuanced portrait of a showbiz icon as he lands precariously at the cultural crossroads of a changing America. 

"Word is Bond"

The beat may get you moving, but in the documentary "Word is Bond," the lyrics of rap and hip-hop take over the stage as Sacha Jenkins' film looks at the complex poetry and evolution of the art with the help of rap names new and old (Nas, J Cole, Anderson.Paak and more). 

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.