Every year, the Milwaukee Film Festival kicks off with a rocking party sponsored by local businesses that showcases the upcoming festival and brings together Milwaukee’s movie lovers.
Since the renovation of the Peck School of the Arts building, the annual film festival party has taken place in the effortlessly cool renovated building which serves as the location for this celebration of all things film.
Taking up three levels and having everything from delicious food and a full bar to a DJ and a screening area to catch up on the trailers for films playing at the festival this party strives to have a little bit of something for everyone.
Each floor of the party is a little different with so much food and entertainment to take up the three levels. Tacos from Bel Air were a popular snack as hungry people shuffled in from the opening night film. The Neroli beauty bar was a mandatory pit stop for those who wanted to look their best before betting their picture taken by the official photographer. And the multiple bars were pouring drinks all night to get those shy people onto the dance floor.
An addition to the party this year includes live music from Milwaukee group New Age Narcissism who rocked out on an outdoor stage overlooking the Milwaukee sky line and pumping music to those on North Avenue.
The party was a din of noise, people talking about the film or chatting to friends but it wasn’t until later in the night when the band took the stage that the party well and truly took off.
Christina Brodeur, who is no stranger to the opening night party, commented on the addition.
“I like that they have live music, that’s something they haven’t had in other years,” said Brodeur.
Each year, the opening night party is a little different with the festival gaining the attention of more and more people each year. This year, in addition to highlighting the importance of the festival in Milwaukee, the party also showcased a local artist who sent the party into overdrive with their raucous set.
People from all over Milwaukee with different backgrounds and different involvement with the Milwaukee film community come to kick of the festival in style.
Young film lovers who are looking for a good party come to hear the live music.
Students from all over come to mingle with people in the industry and make contacts.
And some people are there just because they love film.
Milwaukee is gaining a reputation as a city to be respected for its film, and it is no more evident than taking a look around the opening night party and seeing all different types of people coming together to celebrate a common passion.
The Downer and Oriental theatres have been operating for years on the basis that people want to see films that are considered independent. There is room for these films amongst the blockbusters and that is no more evident than at the party where people of all backgrounds have come to celebrate film and the importance that it has for their life.
With the live music carrying people through the party and into the late hours of the night, people who had eaten their fill and drank enough to loosen them up decided that their feet had had enough and the party began to break up.
For those who had never been before, like Dustin Knecht, the opening night party is a good introduction into the Milwaukee film scene.
“It’s just a good party,” said Knecht.
The aim of the party is to kick off the Milwaukee Film Festival, but it seems like the more important reason to throw a great party is to get people together to talk about thigs they are passionate about and hopefully show others how cool Milwaukee film can be.
Inclusivity seems like a good word to describe the party as people from all walks of life are welcome to dance, eat and geek out over movies that they are passionate about.
Milwaukee film may be ever evolving in this city but one thing will always stay the same; the opening night party signifies not only the opening of the festival but the bringing together of people who love film.