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"The Blood is at the Doorstep" will screen as the centerpiece selection of the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival. (PHOTO: Jennifer Johnson)

Milwaukee Film announces Dontre Hamilton doc as 2017 festival centerpiece

Now that the Milwaukee summer festival monolith that is Summerfest has come and gone (*wipes away tear*), the city's eyes now eagerly look toward the rest of the season's big gatherings. That includes the Milwaukee Film Festival, which today announced its first film selection, its centerpiece choice, "The Blood is at the Doorstep."

A follow-up to his probing 2015 short film "Mothers For Justice," "The Blood is at the Doorstep" is Milwaukee director Erik Ljung's feature-length look into the aftermath of the 2014 police shooting of Dontre Hamilton, intimately spending time with the family and the surrounding community, as well as branching out into the greater national conversation about police violence.

The documentary – filmed over the course of three years – made its official world premiere at South By Southwest earlier this year, where The Hollywood Reporter called the film, "an urgent report from the frontline of an American crisis."

The announcement of "The Blood is at the Doorstep" ties in nicely with the opening of the call for applications for the third year of Brico Forward Fund, Milwaukee Film's annual grant program created to support local filmmakers' projects. The fund awards a pool of $50,000 in cash, as well as $60,000 in sponsor-donated production resources – such as camera and lighting rentals – to jury-selected winners, who are then matched up with a combination of money and resources to fit the project.

As a two-time recipient of the grant, Ljung used $50,000 in Brico Forward Fund cash awards and production services to help finish his lauded documentary, which THR also noted "would certainly find an audience in a wider platform beyond the festival circuit."

"The Brico Forward Fund has been absolutely essential in getting serious about supporting the next generation of filmmakers right here in Milwaukee," Ljung said in a press release. "The funds and services we received through the Brico Forward Fund have been critical toward not only the completion of 'The Blood is at the Doorstep,' but also the quality. The financial support allowed us to cover travel expenses in order to follow our story and also allowed us to hire other extremely talented Milwaukee area creatives to lend their expertise to the project."

Added Jonathan Jackson, artistic and executive director of Milwaukee Film: "Supporting local filmmakers like Erik to create impactful and thought-provoking work is a goal of our organization. Milwaukee is full of talented filmmakers and by providing funding opportunities like the Brico Forward Fund, we can continue to grow our filmmaking community and make Milwaukee a leader in film culture. 'The Blood is at the Doorstep' deserves national attention and recognition as one of the best and most important documentaries of 2017."

The deadline to apply for the Brico Forward Fund – requiring residency in the M7 counties, as well as a description of the film project, a sample of the work and budget, and an explanation of what the project needs – is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20. For more information, visit Milwaukee Film's website.

And stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more Milwaukee Film Festival updates. After all, the first olive is out of the jar now, so get ready for more awesome movie selection announcements coming soon. Not that we're constantly refreshing our email like it's the end of "The Social Network" or anything...

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