A Dive into the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival Black Lens Shorts Program Featuring Local and National Talent

10 Years of Black Lens

Black Lens was created in 2014 with a focus on spotlighting the work of filmmakers of African descent by bringing their films to the Milwaukee Film Festival. 2024 marks 10 years and the program has expanded outside of just the festival with year-round Black Lens programming at the Oriental Theatre.

In February, Black Lens screened a series of films to celebrate Black History Month including “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé”, along with Eddie Murphy’s comedy “Boomerang”.

The 2024 Black Lens Shorts Selections

For the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival, Black Lens screened seven short films made by Black directors. This year’s theme for the shorts is encounters which “explores the on-screen relationship between Blackness, conflict, tension, and decisionmaking”, according to the Milwaukee Film Festival website. The shorts range across different genres including experimental, fiction, and nonfiction narratives.

"Mind Over Fatter" Screened at the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival.
“Mind Over Fatter” screened at the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival. (Picture by Mind Over Matter)

The Black Lens Shorts: Encounters are “Abefele” by Amir George, “Black Silk” by Patrick Michael, “The Flacalta” by Rochée Jeffery, “Goodbye Morganza” by Devon Blackwell, “The Last Week” by Santana Coleman, “Mind Over Fatter” by Marjan Mona Koffa and “Triggerman” by Tyler Holmes.

From the Directors’ Perspectives

Carvd N Stone chatted with a few of the directors from the Black Lens Shorts: Encounters. Each of the directors discussed the meaning of their film and why they wanted to tell these specific stories.

Milwaukee director Coleman’s film “The Last Week” explores a Black woman preparing for her boyfriend to turn himself in to the police. Coleman wanted to show how mass incarceration not only affects the Black man but also those around him.

“I made this from the women’s perspective because we always have to hold it down. We always have to be the backbone of everything and we always have to be the ’strong Black woman’,” said Coleman. “And so I want them to be able to look at this and humanize people who make mistakes but also give us a little bit more respect. Give the Black woman a little more respect and a little more love.”

The film is loosely based on one of Coleman’s cousins who was turning himself in.

Michael’s film “Black Silk” focuses on relationships as well but this time it’s between a son meeting his father for the first time. The film takes place in a bar/club scene where it is loosely based on Michael meeting his father for the first time. Michael wanted to explore the Black father and son dynamic on camera.

“Very often sometimes these things can be reduced to stereotypes or caricatures and I wanted to show that there’s a diversity both in behavior and intention of different people,” said Michael. “I think that there are some actions in this film that on the surface look a certain way but I think digging deeper you can see everybody has their reasons for the way that they are.”

Koffa took the experimental route with her film “Mind Over Fatter”. The film follows a reporter who experiences a modern-day way of losing weight by letting the trainers take over her consciousness. As the short film goes on you find out that the trainers are extracting the human fat to be used in other ways. The film leaves us on a cliffhanger but there are plans to continue the film in the future.

“I’m really excited to take it further and talk about [how] this twist that happens right is kind of like the basis for why I wanted to make this story and what led me to there,” said Koffa.

To watch Carvd N Stone’s 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival interviews click here.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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