Valley Maker

Milwaukee Film Festival Sept 22 – Oct 2

Riverwest Videographer Offers “Valley Maker”

By Jim Loew

A larger than life-sized image of Mark Twain staring out at you on the front panel of a vending machine.  An intimate close-up of two bugs battling it out in a blue dish.  A bikini contest taking place along a river, seen from a distance, two American flags atop polls billowing in the background.  A mannequin with a glazed alligator head dressed in a button shirt, crosses made of bone hanging on the wall nearby.  Taking all this in are three men on a homemade raft, just meandering down a river — the Mississippi River, that is.

These images and more are captured in a film titled “Valley Maker” by Riverwest resident Sean Kafer, which will be featured in this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival.  Kafer built the raft and sailed down the entire Mississippi River, documenting it on film.  Sometimes, a simple premise can be most captivating.

“Sean crafted a beautiful, meditative document of that incredible river,” said Blyth Meier, marketing director for Milwaukee Film, and also a Riverwest resident herself.  “He has a fantastic eye.  It’s a gorgeous piece of work.  But he’s my friend, so I’m biased,” she added with a laugh.

Kafer’s film will be just one of many shown at the third annual Milwaukee Film Festival, which takes place Sep. 22 – Oct. 2.  Cinemas hosting the screenings this year will be the Northshore; the Ridge; the Oriental; and new to the lineup this year, the Downer.  Prices are $10 for the general public, $9 for seniors and students, $8 for Milwaukee Film members, and $6 for children 12 and under.

Once you have your ticket in hand, you’ll also be treated to special appearances by celebrities, filmmakers and directors, of whose identities won’t be revealed until Sep. 3.  On that date, there will be the official launch out for the festival at Cathedral Square during the “Made in Milwaukee” event.  Milwaukee Film will man a booth there where you can pick up a program guide that lists all the details you’ll need to know and more.

One such detail worth mentioning ahead of time is the opening night party.  The festivities for this bash take place at Discovery World and will go from 8:30 p.m. until one in the morning.  You’ll want to bring your dancing shoes and your appetite, as there’ll be live music and food by Bartolotta Catering Company & Events.  And of course there should be plenty to drink, as well.  The cover charge for this shindig will run you $20, or $10 if you have an opening-night ticket stub, or free if you’ve purchased a movie pass.

To find out how to get one of these movie pass for yourself — or just tickets in general — call (414) 727-8468 between the hours of 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. or go online at  Note that you’ll have to wait until Sep. 8 or later to do so.  You can also go in person to any of the box offices Sep. 8 or later, as well.  Call each theater ahead of time for details.

As the last of the festivals comes to an end on the Summerfest grounds, it’s nice to know there’s still one more to be had.  The Milwaukee Film Festival is “a fantastic way to end the festival season in Milwaukee,” said Meier.  “We’re welcoming all the country.  There’s something for everyone; there are comedies, dramas, experimental films.”  And there’s even that one about three guys sailing down the Mississippi River in a homemade raft.