Talking MIFF movies with Mark Metcalf

The Milwaukee International Film Fest is officially underway.

For a goal-oriented person like me, a program full of nearly 140 movies with a corresponding schedule is like a To Do List.  Or more like a menu for a really hungry person where everything looks so delicious, but you've only got so much room in your belly to work with.

I've had practice for this challenge, so I'm ready.  I discovered just what a boon of interesting entertainment an international film festival can be when I lived in Chicago.  Each year, I'd anxiously anticipate the release of the Chicago International Film Festival’s chunky program, poring over the details of each film -- the country of origin, the plot line, the actors, directors, and producers.  I'd grab a highlighter and start marking must-sees and maybes, cross-referencing them with the schedule to figure out just which ones I could make time for.

That habit has carried over to the Milwaukee International Film Fest.  For the second year in a row, the highlighter has come out and my program now resembles a Day-Glo coloring book.  For me, my schedule is the great decider, because if I had the time, I'd just grab the super-jumbo bucket of popcorn and sit through about three films in a row.  Each night.  A full-time job and several extracurricular obligations makes leisure time a little tighter than that.  So, I went right to the source to help me plot out my MIFF movies.

In chatting with Mark Metcalf, who is a member of the MIFF Executive Board and part of one of the MIFF committees who selects the multitude of films, I took the opportunity to compare notes on movies we're both interested in.
you're invited to take a look at my list and Mark Metcalf’s list and see if you can narrow down your own to a dozen or so cant-miss flicks now through October 29th.

The films that I'll be making time for are:

"Stripes," the Bill Murray military comedy film.  Strange listing?  Not when the festival spotlights actor,…Read more...

Metcalf likes Midwestern angle of MIFF

Milwaukee-based actor Mark Metcalf is known to the world for many memorable roles.  Niedermeyer in the classic comedy movie “Animal House.”  The Maestro in the classic comedy TV series “Seinfeld.”  Behind tons of ominous makeup as The Master in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series.  Possibly my favorite, as the angry father in the Twisted Sister videos of the ‘80s shouting the spit-spraying line, “What do you want to do with your life?”

Metcalf would like the world to know Midwestern talent.  As a means to that end, he’s using the Milwaukee International Film Festival as a tool toward showcasing, encouraging and exposing local talent.

In addition to showing 11 days of films from around the globe, the Milwaukee International Film Festival also highlights locally-created movies.  You’ll be able to watch both full-length features and shorts that submitted for the Midwest Filmmaker Competition.  The competition is open to filmmakers from the dozen states considered to be in the Midwestern region, including Wisconsin.  

To develop up-and-coming talent, Metcalf produces and sponsors the MIFF Student Screenwriting Competition.  Earlier this year, 25 scripts were chosen from all of the entries by Milwaukee area high school students.  Concepts from the student’s imaginations ranged from a one-page description for a brief film to mythic trilogies of epic proportion.  Those selected students attended a training seminar of screenwriting instruction by Metcalf and local writers, then submitted their revised screenplays.  Metcalf says the winner was chosen because the script was the most “exciting.”  

The new 13-minute film of competition winner and Pius XI High School senior Vincenzo Balistreri, “She Never Screams,” is the fruition of a collaboration of Metcalf as producer, local film industry veteran Jeff Fitzsimmons as director, and lots of local talent chipping in.  Balistreri himself was hands-on every step of the way …Read more...

One more way for me to show off Milwaukee

I have to start off by saying that it is an honor to be asked to blog for It validates my belief that I do have worthwhile ideas to communicate.  Usually.

While I enjoy an excuse to take a soapbox or stepladder to London’s Hyde Park on a Sunday morning to speak my mind or share an experience, blogging is the 21st century way to publicly journal your thoughts, feelings, opinions, whims and information.

As a special correspondent to, I’ll lean heaviest on the latter, while reserving the right to exercise my perspective.  The exciting part of blogging to me is the sharing of ideas, not just the author’s, but the reader’s, as well.  The immediate interactive opportunity for you to respond provides good dialogue.  Or the occasional immature anonymous posting, but that comes with the territory.  That immediacy is also a quality I like about radio -- you’re always just a phone call away -- and about appearing at live events.

My main interest in blogging for is to highlight the talent and uniqueness of Milwaukee. Feel free to comment, clue me in to something you think is great about our city, and agree or disagree with me in future blogs.