Wednesday, September 7, 2016

2016 Voices Heard: Karen

Karen by Brandon Champ Robinson
Running Time: 12 minutes
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM

Drama/ Horror

A troubled young child’s life is plagued by her, extremely jealous, imaginary best friend, Karen.

Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 Voices Heard: Hell Date

Hell Date by Marcelo Martinez
Running Time: 12 minutes
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM


The short opens with our protagonist making a sandwich and receiving a call from his friend, inviting him out to a new gay bar in town. The protagonist refuses and insists on going out on a date with someone he just met on the internet, in order to get over his ex. The friend taunts him and warns him to be safe. Our main character gets ready for his date, despite not liking how anything looks on him, and takes a couple drinks to work up the courage. He arrives to “Gymstud’s” home and realizes that this man seems off. What ensues is the worst case scenario of an anonymous date. 

Director's Bio:
Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Marcelo Martinez has always had a penchant for telling stories. He has studied film at UW Milwaukee and finished his associates in Tv and Video Production at MATC. Marcelo hopes to make LGBT films from a Chicano point of view.


2016 Voices Heard: The Forgotten Fable of Papa L's .38 Special

The Forgotten Fable of Papa L's .38 Special by Rubin Whitmore II
Running Time: TBA
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM


 Papa Legba has put forth a cursed pistol to wreak havoc.

2016 Voices Heard: A Walk Through The Woods

A Walk Through The Woods by Trez Gee
Wisconsin (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: TBA
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM


Rue takes a walk through the woods and stumbles upon a gruesome discovery that will cause him to have to fight for his life. Will he make it out alive, or will the woodsman seal his fate?


Director's Bio:

He is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and hopes to help establish a film market equal to that of other strong film markets such as LA, Atlanta and New York, giving local and surrounding talent opportunities at chasing their dreams.
Trez will be showing his short film 'A walk Through The Woods', a thriller about a city that’s full of mystery, beauty, fun and exploration, taking a walk through the woods doesn’t seem like a bad idea. At least not until a group of local thugs begin to victimize the community, causing the woods to be unsafe for human habitation!

2016 Voices Heard: Mikwenim: Remember Your Choices

Mikwenim: Remember Your Choices 
by Lac Courte Oreilles of Ojibwe Nation and Darren Cole
Running Time: TBA
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM


 The Ojibwe youth learn through the always present aura of an elder that the choices they make do matter. Life on the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation presents itself as a wall; that most do not pass. Often during times of trouble, looking to the 7th generation for their teachings is a must. Mikwenim establishes place and identity while exposing our personal comfort in avoiding the issues that affect our community.

2016 Voices Heard: Two Rivers

Two Rivers by Melonie Gartner
Running Time: 15 minutes
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM


Two Rivers is a story about the destructive relationship between Dirke (Mark Borchardt) and Emma (Melonie Gartner). Dirke is a troubled individual who can’t hold down a job. Haunted by his own demons and coupled with an explosive temper, Dirke is a force to be reckoned with.

Dirke’s uncontrollable attitude also spills into his relationship with Emma, a long-suffering woman. Dirke’s abusive way leaves her cold and broken. Emma neither has anything left to give to their relationship nor any place nor means to escape her situation. She fears and resents Dirke. Her feelings don’t go unnoticed – Dirke can feel Emma is slipping away from him. The thought that he cannot control her feelings makes him out of control all the more.

Two Rivers represents two bodies of water that can’t be merged. It’s Dirke and Emma’s Mesopotamia. A tale of tainted love that has gone past the point of no return.




Wednesday, August 10, 2016

2016 Voices Heard: Deserter's North

Deserter's North by Xinhao Liang
Wisconsin (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 14 minutes
Screening Time: Friday Sept 9th Voices Heard, 9PM


Sometime in the future, the war lasted for a long time. In order to runaway the battle, a young deserter hided in the wildness for years. One day, he saw a vague figure in a far distance, so he decide to follow the figure and see whats going on...

Director's Bio:

Xinhao Liang is a director/cinematographer from China. He received his film degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In Past 4 years, he made about 10 short films and 1 feature. Xinhao likes genre films and always try to combine different pop cultures and some experimental elements together in his work.

Xinhao will be showing his short film 'deserter’s North', A fantasy about a young deserter met a girl, who carries a bomb during endless war.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2016 Festival Judges

Dick Grunert was born on April 7, 1974 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. He is known for his work as a writer on Adventure Time (2010), script coordinator on The Boondocks (2005) and the writer on House Call (2014). Dick's previous film, The Trap won "Best Director" at our festival last year.

Van Campbell II, winner of Best Wisconsin Film in 2013 for Mason Jelly Jar, and in 2015 for Hero in Limbo.

Timothy J. Lonsdale, a 30 year vet in the industry. His credits include: Stranger Things as the Unit Production Manager, Drop Dead Diva as the 1st A.D., Charmed as 1st A.D., Alien: Resurrection as 2nd Unit 1st A.D., Species as 1st A.D., Speed as 2nd Unit 2nd A.D., and as J.R's doctor during the Who Shot J.R. story-line on Dallas.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

2016 Films: Closed Mondays

Closed Mondays by Henry Willette
Wisconsin (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 15 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday Sept 10th, 8:30PM Juried Films Part 2


When a reclusive, small town museum guard unwillingly befriends a young patron, their shared appreciation of the museum's modest contemporary art collection sparks an unlikely friendship that forever changes the gallery's low attendance.

Filmed on location at the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee, WI by Marquette University students. 

Director's Bio:

Henry Willette is a Director/Cinematographer from Minneapolis, MN. He's currently a senior studying Digital Media and Film at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Henry's early work earned him awards at Marquette's Student Film Festival three years in a row (2013 - 2015). His films have also been featured in Milwaukee's Great Lakes Environmental Film Festival (2015), St. Paul's Frozen Film Festival (2015) and on Milwaukee Magazine's website.

2016 Films: Screen: Righter

Screen: Righter by T.C. De Witt
Running Time: 8 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday Sept 10th, 8:30PM Juried Films Part 2


On June 10th, Chad Halvorsen brought together a team of Firmament alum and some new friends for the 2016 Milwaukee 48 Hour film Project. What followed was a weekend of indie romance, Michael Bay hero shots, slow-mo running, and cre-a-tivity!
This is "Screen: Righter".

Our required elements:
Genre - Romance or Fable
Character - Luke or Laura Coppersmith, retired circus performer
Prop - a painting or photo of a deceased relative
Line of Dialogue - "What's the big idea?"

2016 Films: the good boy

the good boy by A. L. Lee
New York (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 15 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday Sept 10th, 8:30PM  Juried Films Part 2


A morality tale, "the good boy" is a film about a young boxer who accepts a challenge to fight a brute of a man only to discover his opponent has the mental capacity of a five year old. This is an unflinching look at what happens when you feel honor bound to doing something you know is morally wrong. "the good boy" is about the decisions we make and living with their consequences.




Director's Bio:

A. L. Lee received an MFA in screenwriting from Columbia University. Her screenplay "The Legend of Pig-Eye", which is an adaptation of the short story with the same title by Rick Bass, won the top prize in the Columbia University Screenwriting Awards.

She originally trained as a violinist at the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory.

She live in New York City with her husband, two sons and two cats.

Director Statement

I'd been studying the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski (Double Life of Veronique, Dekalog, Blue, White Red) when I was writing "the good boy". Watching those masterpieces, you can't help but think about moral dilemmas. Why do people knowingly decide to do something that they know is morally wrong?

I started to watch my own actions and the actions of my friends. I realized that it's easy for most people to do the right thing if they believe they don't have much at stake. But it's just as easy for people to convince themselves that what's at stake is more than what they're willing to pay. Honor, loyalty, money, religion and even love are used on micro and global levels to justify our actions; even actions we know are morally abhorrent.

For Cal, the young boxer, what's at stake is his deal with Ray. "No losin', no forfeitin'." He feels honor bound to Ray. The stake for Quinny is more tragic because what he wants is the love and respect of his step-father and the patrons of their bar. I wanted to explore the consequence of a room full of people, one after another, deciding to do what they know is morally wrong and how they justify their decisions to themselves. 


DisOrient Film Festival
Eugene, Oregon
April 19, 2015
World Premiere
Best Cinematography

WorldFest Houston International Film Festival
Houston, TX
Gold Remi for Original Story

DC Asian Pacific Film Festival
East Coast

The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival
Brooklyn, NY
May 13, 2015
New York

Kaliber35 Munich International Film Festival
Munich, German
June 19, 2015
European Premiere

WILDsound Film Festival
Toronto, Canada
June 25, 2015
Canadian Premiere 

Best Film, Best Overall Acting, Best Cinematography
Periphery of the Empire
Caserta, Italy
July 24, 2015

Louisville's International Festivals of Film
Louisville, Kentucky
October 1, 2015

Commffest Global Community Film Festival
Toronto, Canada
September 23, 2015

Roma Creative Contest
Rome, Italy

First Glance Film Festival, Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
October 23, 2015

Visionaria Festival
Siena, Italy

Mexico City, Mexico
November 2, 2015
Mexico Premiere

SNOB Film Festival
Concord, NH
February 21, 2015

December 1, 2015
South America

Sydney World Film Festival
Sydney, Australia
December 25, 2015

College Town Film Festival, 2015
College Town, PA
March 16, 2016

Film Festival of Castilla-la Mancha ® FECICAM
Castilla-la Mancha, Spain
March 1, 2016 


Ouchy Film Festival, 2016
Lausanne, Switzerland

OvertimeFilms 2016

Mexicali (Baja California) Mexico
March 17, 2016

Kansas City Film Festival
Kansas City, Missouri
April 14, 2016


2016 Films: Muscle

Muscle by Heidi Miami Marshall
New York (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 14 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday Sept 10th, 6PM

AMANDA is married to CRAIG, a terminally ill man. She has been by his side, bathing and feeding him for the past seven years. She cares for him day in and day out, the weight of it all taking a toll on her life and her marriage.

But their marriage was broken long before the disease, and those cracks have never gone away. Now, frayed by a life in stasis, Amanda realizes it's time to make a choice.

A meeting with a stranger becomes Amanda's final chance to regain her hope.




Director's Bio:

“All of Heidi Marshall's work has led me to see that she is a Director of first rate talent and ability.” - Baz Luhrmann

Heidi Miami Marshall's professional career started as a casting director for Bernard Telsey+Co, where she was the lead Casting Director for the mega-hit Broadway musical RENT. At Telsey+CO, Heidi cast over 70 productions of theater, film, tv, commercials, and voice-overs. She applied her directing strengths to the process of casting, and her specialty quickly became finding young, raw talent.

Later, while casting a project for Baz Luhrmann on Broadway, Baz encouraged Heidi to go work alongside him as his Resident Director on LA BOHEME, giving her the reigns to direct and mount the production for him in Los Angeles. While working closely with Luhrmann, he became a mentor and inspired Heidi to take the leap from casting back to directing, which was always her original intention anyway.

Heidi continues to straddle the worlds of film and theater. Heidi has received awards and fellowships for her directing in both theater and film, most notably the prestigious American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women [in Los Angeles] and The Drama League [for theater] in New York City.

Heidi is known to have the magic touch with sparking and shaping talent.

Director's Statement:
For me, the process of making a film is beyond simply getting the green light and hitting production mode. It’s about the journey of getting to the end. What else is there to understand about these characters that we haven’t asked yet? How do we visually show the internal complexities?

Rarely is a film given a rehearsal period before shooting. But, for me, an intensive rehearsal is the single greatest secret weapon to making a character-driven film. In the making of this 13 minute film, the lead actress, Fiona Graham, and I spent nearly one year together picking apart the finer details of the turmoil that the lead character, Amanda, is confronting.

The more we worked on the minimalistic script, the more we discovered its immense intricacies: a woman deciding to leave her husband or not, to confront the past or not, to love her husband or not… this is a woman on the verge. The entire film hinges on the audience’s visceral connection to her breakdown… or breakthrough.

Our goal was to create a tense rumble underneath the character, with volatile glimpses into her innermost private thoughts about her confusions and decisions. This woman has a constant weight on her mind, and she is desperate for release. I looked for hidden moments within the script and used the rehearsal process to excavate them further. For instance, this attention to character development is how we discovered that the laundry room gave us the perfect opportunity for Amanda’s private release of tension.

Perhaps it’s because of my theater directing background over the past 20+ years, or perhaps it’s my intense appreciation for the nuanced work of the actor, but I tend to discover the visuals of my films when working on the script analysis closely with my actors. My visual language is in direct response to the inner work of the characters - an actor’s face and internal life literally sparks a visual in my mind for the film. All of my camera choices were deliberately chosen in response to character work.

My collaborators were all armed with the same mission: we wanted the actor’s performances to be allowed to breathe on film. From framing to pacing, we worked hard to sustain the tension until the very last beat.

There were endless opportunities in editing this film. This film literally could have been edited numerous ways. In fact, we tried them all! The sequencing had to be just right to sustain the paradox of tension and release in Amanda’s journey. The placement of the laundry room scene, for example, played very differently depending on where it was placed in the sequencing. If it was too early, it wasn’t a release of tension. If it played too late, it was overkill.

I also learned from the various edit options (and audience tests) that the film could be reduced to a “woman’s revenge” film or simply “a twist ending film”. We discovered that it was actually even more than just the sequencing that determined the audience’s interpretation of the story. Unlike any film I have done yet, it became a crucial selection process of each line delivery as to how the audience interpreted the story. The editor and I had to carefully and judiciously select each line delivery so as not to give away too much, to hold the cards until the right moments. It was such a joy and a real challenge to really work down to the bone with nuances of the actors’ performances.

There are so many stories to make into movies, so many talented actors to work with on camera, and so many ways to film and edit a single story that the options become truly infinite. My directing mentors, Baz Luhrmann and Frank Oz(who generously mentored me on MUSCLE), showed me that the best plan of action for any Director is to set up artistic parameters for the film and to make every artistic choice in alignment with those “rules”. When you know your rules, then it isn’t as tempting to get distracted by other tangential creative ideas during your process.

For MUSCLE, my rules for the vision were clear: create stationary frames that actors can roam within, sit in stillness, use of negative space in camera framing, film the flashbacks with movement and the present with stillness, rehearse actors extensively, explore saying more with less, and reveal Amanda’s internal decision-making like a slow burn and tightly-wound reveal.

On this film, and as I move forward with my next films, I strive to uphold and protect the process unique to each film. But, overall, I eagerly continue to seek process-oriented actors, rich scripts, complex circumstances, and a team of collaborators all invested in the same approach. 


Greenwich Film Festival
Greenwich, Connecticut
United States
June 9, 2016
World Premiere

Soho International Film Festival
New York
June 11, 2016
New York City Premiere
Nominated: Best Showcase Short Film

Buffalo Niagra International Film Festival
United States
Winner: Judge's Honorable Mention Award


2016 Films: Cartolina

Cartolina by Kevin Przybylinski & Sheila Teruty
Wisconsin (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 10 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday Sept 10th, 8:30PM Juried Films Part 2


After receiving the same postcard in the mail three days in a row we start to question reality and what fate it holds, Is it now or was it then is what you will be asking after delving into this David Lynch inspired take on "Through the Looking Glass". Shot on the Super 8mm Film in the Rare Max 8 format, Cartolina will be a real treat for the film geek in all of us.



Kevin Przybylinski's Bio:

His work has an immediate and invigoratingly dark tone - psychological noir if you will, be it in black and white or color - an ambitious symbiosis between cinema and still photography achieved.

The effect of his vision lingers far longer in the psyche as testament to a deeper intonation of intent. In his work “sensual” hints of a darker chronicle; a confluence of the primal urge melded with ominous, violent tracts of narrative.

His determination kicks into overdrive as his aesthetic target is centered with singular aim; Przybylinski provably emerges as a burgeoning Renaissance man. - Mark Borchardt (Actor; American Movie & Writer; The Onion)

Sheila Teruty's Bio:

Sheila Teruty is a vintage clothing collector/curator, freelance photographer and wardrobe stylist based in Milwaukee and Cartolina is her first delve into the film world. 

Sheila Teruty received a strange postcard 11 years ago from a stranger and after finding it in a pile of old journals. With her love of 1920's silent films and fashion, she decided to create a strange film based on the old postcard. 

Sheila received her BA in Interactive Media Design from Alverno College where she first started creating amateur films.

2016 Films: The Hodag

The Hodag by Hadrien Royo
New York (Wisconsin Premiere)
Running Time: 14 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday Sept 10th, 8:30PM Juried Films Part 2


It is the story of eleven-year-old Amy, a girl who encounters the mysterious Hodag and believes, at all costs, that it is real. Unfortunately, her father is the kind of man who doesn't believe in magical creatures lurking around the forest. And so Amy sets out to prove that the Hodag really exists.



Director's Bio:

Hadrien grew up in Paris, where he graduated from Law School only to decide that he wanted follow his dream to become a filmmaker. He was chosen as a recipient for the Carla-Bruni Sarkozy Foundation Fellowship, funded by John A. Paulson. As he completing his MFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, he had multiple exhibitions, most notably a multimedia exhibitions in NYC at the 80WSE Gallery (NYC), at the International Festival of Photography in Pingyao (China).

Danielle Trussoni is the New York Times Bestselling author of theAngelology series, and the author of the award-winning memoir, Falling Through the Earth. This is her first foray into film. Her next project is to create a television series based on her novels.


Director's Statement:

This film celebrate a culture we don't see very often. The Hodag captures a unique and under-filmed part of the world and shows a totally new aspect of the culture of Wisconsin and the Midwest. If you're from the Midwest, this is about having pride in a very special part of the world.

The Hodag is a symbol of the power of the imagination. When Amy sees the Hodag, she believes that magic is real, and that everyday life can be touched by the extraordinary. Dreams make the world spin for Amy and for everyone.