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Debra Granik, director of the Oscar-nominated film "Winter's Bone," will appear at the Helene Zelazo Center Nov. 14.
Debra Granik, director of the Oscar-nominated film "Winter's Bone," will appear at the Helene Zelazo Center Nov. 14.

UWM students bring Oscar-nominated director to Milwaukee

It's a big week for the student-run Production Club at UWM – and everyone's invited.

The club, which has been in existence for six years and boasts a membership of approximately 80 film students, hosts a prestigious grand speaker on Nov. 14.: Debra Granik, director of the Academy Award-nominated 2010 film "Winter's Bone," who will speak at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd., at 7 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

"Debra will share her experiences in the independent filmmaking world, including her directorial work on the Best Picture-nominated film 'Winter's Bone,'" noted a The Production Club press release. "We will discuss inspirations, film production and visual storytelling."

The Production Club is also providing those unfamiliar with Granik's work ample opportunity to educate themselves. The UWM Union Theatre will host a screening of Granik's first feature film, "Down to the Bone," tonight, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

The Union Theatre will also be the site of a screening of "Winter's Bone," starring Jennifer Lawrence, Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m., directly before Granik's appearance across the street.

For Production Club officer Kyle Arpke, booking Granik as a grand speaker was a no-brainer. Not only is a big name guaranteed to draw a crowd, but the director has a solid body of work and is well-respected within the filmmaking community especially among independent filmmakers. The club sees it as an invaluable opportunity to learn from a master, as well as to engage the public.

"I've been a huge fan of her ever since I saw 'Winter's Bone' in 2010," Arpke said. "That film, it sort of opened me up to the neo-realism genre. (Neo-realism) is definitely getting a lot of recognition on the independent film scene with films like 'Blue Valentine' and the films of Kelly Reichardt like 'Wendy and Lucy.'"

Arpke got the chance to see Granik's first feature work, "Down to the Bone," in a film realism class, "so I was really interested in bringing her," he said. Luckily, through a faculty contact who is a former acquisitions executive at Miramax Films, Arpke was able to contact Granik.

Every year The Production Club creates a short film using high-tech equipment not made readily available by the university. The group uses grants from the Student Association at UWM as well as a Kickstarter fundraising effort, and this year screened their first film, "Gears," at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

You can follow The Production Club on Twitter.


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