As if to prove how petty and irrelevant he is to the film fesitval business, Shepherd Express publisher/editor and Charles-Foster-Kane-syndrome sufferer Lou Fortis uses the formerly-interesting Expresso column in his newspaper this week to try to piss on the Milwaukee Film Festival that replaced his vanity-based Milwaukee International Film Festival. It was an embarrassing effort that resulted, as these things often do, in the pee running down his legs and soaking his shoes.
Under the headline "Issue of the Week", Fortis' paper mentions the MFF for the first time; claiming that the first year of the new festival "failed to generate the excitement [well, for Fortis and Dave Luhrssen, maybe] and attendance of the original and very successful [of course it was successful -- just look at it now] Milwaukee International Film Festival". Fortis gloats that the last year of the MIFF -- which might still be active if he and Luhrssen had only gave up control and allowed the appointment of an independent board -- enjoyed a "45% greater attendance than this year's event."
Still, an impressive 20,000 attended the event, one of which, you would hope, was Dave Luhrssen. Luhrssen's supposed love of independent film was exposed as a fraud when he failed to cover or even list the films in the festival in the S-E. If he showed, maybe he would have learned something about cinema itself, or at least bumped into some other critics who could have given him some badly-needed pointers for his own bland, often incomprehensible film reviews. While Luhrssen ignored the independent films and pounded out tripe about Hollywood product like "Bright Star" and "The Informant!" during the weeks of the festival, much better writers in the Journal Sentinel (your welcome, Duane) and places like OnMilwaukee covered and promoted the films in the festival. Luhrssen used to cover and promote the films in "his" festival like he was in the midst of film rapture. Was it about the "love of cinema" or his, Fortis' and the S-E's self-promotion (and finances)? I think we now have our answer to that one.
The real film-lovers are the dedicated culture-builders like Chris Abele, who justifiably moved their money away from Fortis' ego-enhancement project and built an independent festival to go along with the independent film it celebrates. "The numbers speak for themselves," writes Fortis in his snide jibe at the MFF -- and, indeed, they do. The numbers go something like this: 20,000 people celebrated independent film in Milwaukee for a couple of weeks in theaters all over town. 2 people -- Lou Fortis and Dave Luhrssen -- spent those two weeks hunkered-down in their bunker, plotting revenge and lawsuits; putting out their dreary 56-pages-and-shrinking lame excuse for a weekly paper.