By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published May 03, 2024 at 10:01 AM

The 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival may be over – but the good news from the organization keeps rolling, as they revealed their 2024 attendance numbers as well as their dates for next year's edition, their new CEO and a new mini-festival hitting their screens this fall.

Milwaukee Film announced that attendance for last month's 15-day cinema extravaganza clocked in at 32,624 – a total still below the event's lofty pre-COVID and pre-move to spring highs, but also the organization's highest in-person attendance numbers since the pandemic, improving on 2023's 29,718 and 18,734 back in 2022. And as always, those 32,000 attendees got a chance to see some of the best movies currently available on the big screen – whether that was my personal favorite, the bittersweet and beaming closing night selection "Robot Dreams," or one of the festival award winners like the Luminaries Jury Award winner "La Chimera" or the Audience Award crowd-pleaser "Remembering Gene Wilder" (both now available for encore showings at the Oriental and Downer).

Oh, and about that: The Milwaukee Film Festival also opened an entire historic theater during its two-week run, resurrecting the Downer from extinction. So between the increased attendance, the historic theater back in action and the great movies glowing on the big screens, we'll certainly call this year's festival a resounding success. 

"This year’s festival was a joyous celebration of independent and international cinema," said Milwaukee Film artistic director Cara Ogburn, in a release. “From a packed Downer cinema on a sunny day to watch Frederick Wiseman’s latest to the return of our 500 person dance party for 'Stop Making Sense,' the festival felt like a true celebration of cinema and community."

Well, I guess we'll just have to do this all again next year! And indeed, set your calendars because Milwaukee Film also announced the dates for next year's festival, hitting Brew City big screens next spring on April 24 through May 8.

And if that feels too far away, you're in luck because Milwaukee Film revealed a new bonus film festival hitting its marquee between now and then: the Dialogues Documentary Festival, a weekend-long film festival showcasing some of the best documentaries out there and starting conversations around those movies. The new festival will make its debut this fall, running Sept. 26-29. Stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more updates and announcements as the fest draws closer. 

Still too long of a wait? Then visit the Oriental and Downer right now and see a movie! Yes, both historic theaters (as well as their festival compatriot, the Avalon) are all still open and still showing worthwhile films on their big screens – from star-studded blockbusters like "The Fall Guy" and "Challengers" to Best of Fest favorites like "Remembering Gene Wilder" and "The Beast," and much more. For a look at what's showing and when, check out their website

And that's somehow not all from the organization, as Milwaukee Film also announced that it has found its new leader: Anne Reed, who took over as interim CEO for the organization after former CEO Jonathan Jackson resigned in January. She now drops the "interim" tag and takes over as CEO, effective immediately. 

"In my tenure as interim CEO, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of Milwaukee Film’s work: the Milwaukee Film Festival, which has become a treasure in our city; our year-round programming celebrating film's variety and depth; and our programs with kids and filmmakers.” Reed said, in a release. “It is a privilege to lead such a dynamic organization that stands at the heart of Milwaukee’s cultural life."

So cheers to Reed, cheers to Milwaukee Film for putting on yet another terrific festival, cheers to everyone who saw a movie (or 20) during the festival, and cheers to seeing you all at the movies again soon. 

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.