By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 09, 2024 at 2:31 PM Photography: Milwaukee Film

Today brings big news from one of the biggest film organizations in the state and region: After more than 15 years at the helm, Milwaukee Film president and CEO Jonathan Jackson announced his resignation. 

“It’s a bittersweet decision” Jackson said, in a release. “Milwaukee Film has been a huge part of my life, and I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to catalyze the power of film and help build this vital Milwaukee institution from scratch. It’s been an incredible journey, and I couldn’t be more thankful to the many mentors, supporters and colleagues that have worked tirelessly by my side to bring this dream to fruition. However, it is now time for me to begin a new chapter.”

“We, too, are bittersweet with Jonathan’s decision to move on, but we are incredibly grateful for everything he has done to take Milwaukee Film from its infancy to one of the most recognized and well-respected film organizations in the country," said Milwaukee Film Board Chair Susan F. Mikulay, in the release.

A Cleveland native who came to Milwaukee to study film at UW-Milwaukee, Jackson ran the university's Union Cinema before serving as a programmer for Milwaukee Film's predecessor, the Milwaukee International Film Festival, in the early 2000s. Jackson then came aboard Milwaukee Film during its formative years – first as artistic director in 2008, then as executive director the following year. He would go on to hold those two positions with Milwaukee Film for most of his almost 16-year tenure, over that time raising the Milwaukee Film Festival's profile both locally and nationally – to the point of becoming one of the largest regional festivals in the country – helping book impressive lineups of screenings and speakers, and helping the organization take over the Oriental Theatre in 2018 and restore the historic East Side cinema. 

“He’s been with us since the start, and he deserves a lot of credit for getting us to where we are today,” said Milwaukee Film founder Chris Abele, in a release. “We wish him well in his new adventures and thank him for his  service and hard work."

In the announcement, Jackson noted that he plans to stay in Milwaukee and that "I look forward to soon sharing the plans for what is next.”

As for what's next for Milwaukee Film, the organization hired Anne Reed as its interim CEO while it searches for a new permanent replacement. Reed previously served as the president and CEO of the Wisconsin Human Society. And of course, they still have their annual festival, hitting big screens across Brew City in just a few months on April 11-25

Stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more Milwaukee Film Festival updates – and one final thanks, Jonathan Jackson, for all you've done for film fans, Brew City cinephiles and Milwaukee as a whole. A lot of tremendous movies and experiences wouldn't have made it here without you and Milwaukee Film's wonderful work – so, as a massive movie nerd, you have my gratitude. 

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.