April 28, 2009 by Milwaukee Stories — Milwaukee Film is proud to invite you to the premiere screening of MILWAUKEE STORIES, an ongoing series of short films that inner city teens (working with filmmaker mentors) have created about their lives and their locale.

The program, originated by Maxine Wishner, was produced in cooperation with Running Rebels, a youth community organization since 1980. The result of this year’s collaboration is five intense and heartfelt, homegrown Milwaukee films. These films inspire discussion, advance our pre-conceptions about neighborhood life, and hopefully will enhance connections within the diverse communities of Milwaukee.

Thursday, April 30 2009
Milwaukee Art Museum – Lubar Auditorium
700 North Art Museum Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202
5:30PM – 6:00PM Meet and Greet
6:15PM – 7:15PM Screening and Discussion with Filmmakers

REEL Milwaukee ran into Maxine Wishner at Oakland Gyros at bartime last week and this is what we gots. OK, we did a formal interview but late night, OG, that’s more interesting than phone calls and emails. Anyway…..

TCD: What makes Milwaukee Stories unique? What sets it apart from other doc-series screenings?

MW: MILWAUKEE STORIES pairs five successful filmmakers with five of the Running Rebels’ youth. The intent was to create workshops and one-on-one dialogue in a safe environment where trust could grow. This comfort encouraged the youth to create authentic films that offer insight into a population with which most Milwaukeeans are unacquainted.

Also unique is that we have advisers for MILWAUKEE STORIES; psychologists and children’s lawyers that educate us re: the issues of the neighborhood. The youth also act as advisers, offering feedback that is first-hand. We keep in touch with these teens, and two of the young storytellers from the first season became mentors for this year.

I was introduced to Running Rebels, a community space that helps at risk kids that go through the courts . These aren’t high school kids who have their own computers. These are kids in transition, many of whom need to stay out of trouble. Our first two years we worked at Running Rebels. We started out showing a film and talking about the project. A lot of kids were interested, but we chose five and they stayed throughout the program. A few months ago Running Rebels bought a camera. They may be making films on their own, which means we succeeded at our job.

We are going to meet other communities and make films there as well.

Our outreach also sets us apart. We intend to use these films to create dialogues among communities, to show to young teachers who will be entering that population. They will air in school and other communities and each film will have some talking points. We are hoping if kids are interested in film we can put them in touch with potential places for employment.

TCD: When and why did you start this program?

MW: I moved back home in 2006 after decades of making films in New York. Wanted to know more about what was happening in other neighborhoods. Met Jon Jackson, Artistic Director of MILWAUKEE FILM and he agreed that the project would be a natural fit, a component of MILWAUKEE FILM.

TCD: How did you find the filmmakers?
MW: I met Portia Cobb, an artist and professor at UWM. She suggested some filmmakers and they turned out to be awesome; animators, multi discipline artists, recipients of Nohl Award, Rockefeller nominees, Phd candidates. And of course, all filmmakers. Four out of five returned for the second year.

If you mean the youth (it gets confusing) we met them through Running Rebels.

TCD: How much time did they have to produce the films?

MW: About 10 weeks, summer vacation, once a week for an hour and then at convenient times for each pair of filmmaker / storytellers. When the films are completed we have a big showing, last year at Discovery World, this year at MAM. The kids get a lot of media exposure become minor celebs on their own!

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