Do your homework for these WFF Q&As

A complete rundown of where you can hear from filmmakers during the festival.

In their greatest moments, film festivals provide a unique proximity between audiences that enjoy films and the people who work hard to create them. It's a shame then that 90% of all Q&A events following film screenings are at least 60% terrible.

I don't think it's anyone's fault exactly. Maybe when the microphone comes to you, you're just not firing on all cylinders. It didn't inspire deep insight or introspection that would draw a deep and nuanced question from your soul. Or maybe you just really, REALLY wanted to know what their budget was, or what cameras they used. At any rate, Q&As will always be worth it because of the unique moment of seeing a name from the screen walk out and talk to you about why their work was so important to bring to you, the viewer—do not mistake my misgivings for a call to banish the practice. But we all have to acknowledge the truth that these things could be less awkward.

Despite appearances, us internet journalist people tend to be awkward weirdos of the highest order. I get anxious that I'll come off as a know-it-all or that I'm stealing time for our stories from a curious public. That often leads to me biting my tongue even as I grumble about awkward, rambling questions being asked.

So this year, I thought I'd open up my reporter's notebook and break down each filmmaker Q&A on the festival slate, along with a few potential questions that I think might provoke some earnest and engaging conversation, as well as some that would make me cringe.


Christina Ciano, Jeff Buss (A Place in the Garden)

Mark Borchardt (The Dundee Project)

Marc Kornblatt, Michael Feldman (Whad'Ya Do Now)

Andrew Swant(Silently Steal Away)

What screening?:

Transmissions from the Heartland, Thursday March 30 @ 7:00PM

Who is it?: Four filmmakers follow four Wisconsinites who are wrestling with changing relevance and changing ways of communicating with fans and audiences of their message.

Fuel for Discussion:

“Can you talk a bit about how you came to know the subjects of your film? What moment made you realize their present struggles made for interesting film?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

"Can I get a Michael Feldman bobblehead?"


Albert Birney

What screening?:

Sylvio, Friday March 31 @ 9:15PM

Who is it?: The filmmaker who saw the potential in a joke account on Vine and decided to make a feature film about him.

Fuel for Discussion:

"Is there a disconnect between mainstream and internet culture? Is it closing?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"Why did Vine die?"

"Can you make me internet famous?"


Anthony Anderson

What screening?:

Almost Sunrise, Saturday April 1 @ 4:30PM

Who?: The subject of the film, an Iraq War veteran who walked across the United States on a 2,700 mile hike to find solace from his PTSD.

Fuel for Discussion:

"What veterans resources for wrestling with PTSD are most important for civilians to support?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"What do you think of the Trump Truck meme?"


Adam Krause (Gags)

Brett Marty (Youth)

Joe Cahill (Last Chance)

Joe Bowes (American Zombies)

Jenna Wilcox and Daniel Kinney (Fate of Heart)

Quinn Else (UFO Days)

What screening?:

Creepshow, Saturday April 1 @ 9:30PM

Who is it?: Filmmakers with horror-themed shorts featured as part of the Wisconsin's Own horror collection, slated to debut to a sold-out crowd.

Fuel for Discussion:

"When you film projects like these, where do you hope horror fans will find them? YouTube? Film Festivals?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"Do you have the clown costume still and can I borrow it for....reasons?"


Katherine Acosta

What screening?:

Divided We Fall, Sunday April 2 @ 11:00AM

Who is it?: Filmmaker behind the latest documentary of the Capitol protests sparked by Governor Scott Walker's Act 10 legislation.

Fuel for Discussion:

"What are the challenges of documenting history as it's still playing out?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"My protest sign showed up in the movie, can I get a credit please?"


Larry Peerce

What screening?:

One Potato, Two Potato, Friday March 31 @ 6:00PM

Who is it?: The director behind a 1964 film about interracial marriage, challenging audiences to acknowledge that despite the recent passage of the Civil Rights Act, America still stood very, very far from racial harmony.

Fuel for Discussion:

"What role do you think films play in shifting cultural norms?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

Anything equating memes and sit-ins.


John Flaig (Planting Seeds: Milwaukee's Young Farmers)

What screening?:

Seeds and Cells, Saturday April 1 @ 10:00AM

Who is it?: The filmmaker behind a documentary following a community garden program in urban Milwaukee, featured as part of program of community-oriented docs about the city.

Fuel for Discussion:

“Do you think about ‘success’ or ‘value’ of community programs like this differently at all after watching this one up close?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

“Did anyone try to grow weed in the garden?”


Laura Reich and Willa Song (Li)

James Runde and Casey Long (Patti)

Kate Feldt and Wesley Morgan (Fake Jewels)

Sachin Dharwadker (Breathe In Breathe Out)

Bill Bedford (Christina)

Joel Garber (Connie)

Kate Raney and Jeremy Bessoff(Lingua Absentia)

Xia Magnus(Hunter)

What screening?:

Speaking in Tongues, Saturday April 1 @ 2:30PM

Who is it?: Filmmakers behind a wide-ranging series of Wisconsin-made shorts focused on the challenge of communicating.

Fuel for Discussion:

“Is making a short film more appealing knowing it might have a longer life as a YouTube-friendly shareable video? Or does that diminish all the work involved?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

“What is your next project and will it go viral?”


Jack Whaley(Christmas Trees)

Graham Drysdale(Wigilia)

What screening?:

Wigilia, Saturday April 1 @ 5:00PM

Who is it?: A pair of filmmakers with different stories that take place around Christmas time.

Fuel for Discussion:

“Is the commercial influence on Christmas less palpable in Poland than it is in America?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

“Can I get your fried carp and barszcz (beetroot soup) recipes please?”


Jennifer MacArthur

What screening?:

Whose Streets?, Saturday April 1 @ 5:00PM

Who is it?: Producer of a film that documents the early moments of the Black Lives Matter movement, as it took root in Ferguson, Missouri.

Fuel for Discussion:

“There’s a common theme in this festival of documenting history as it happens. What made that challenging in this project?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

Any question too closely equating Act 10 protests with Ferguson.


Heather Linville

What screening?:

Across the World and Back: Aloha Wanderwell Baker, Sunday, April 2 @ 11AM

Cock of the Air (intro), Sunday, April 2 @ 1PM

Who?: An Academy Film Archive preservationist since 2003.

Fuel for Discussion:

"Are there 'white whale' films that you or your colleagues have run across but been unable to restore to a state the audiences could enjoy them again?"

"Do you and your colleagues think about how to preserve films made for YouTube or other modern but non-durable formats?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"Should PewDiePie be in the Academy Archive?"


Violet Jinqi Wang (Brown Girl)

Diane Moy Quon (Cliff, Superfan!)

Jan Jensen and Mark Davis (The Bear and the Owl)

What screening?:

Portraits and Pictures from Wisconsin's Own, Sunday April 2 @ 1:30PM

Who is it?: Wisconsin filmmakers behind three films focused on three very different characters: a Filipino-American artist, Stanford University's #1 sports fan, and a thoughtful man seeking to help an ailing young girl.

Fuel for Discussion:

“How did you find the subjects for your respective films? How did they initially react to the idea of your making a film about their lives?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

“People tell me I’m very funny and likeable, why hasn’t someone made a film about my in-home chicken daycare?”


Brennan Vance

What screening?:

The Missing Sun, Sunday April 2 @ 5:15PM

Who is it?: The writer and director of a film focused on a woman determined to reunite her husband's conscious mind with his body after she finds him comatose in the aftermath of a solar flare.

Fuel for Discussion:

"You featured many landscapes from Minnesota and Wisconsin, were you trying to evoke a specific sense of place, or more generally of being alone and remote?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"This is more of a statement than a question, but I wanted to say a few things about solar flares in fiction. First off, as a scientist, it's to my dismay that often in popular culture these sorts of things aren't conveyed with the rigor that............"


Dustin Guy Defa

What screening?:

Person to Person, Monday April 3 @ 8:00PM andTuesday April 4 @ 12:00PM

Who is it?: Writer and director of an ensemble anthology of New York stories, adapted from the director's previous short film by the same name.

Fuel for Discussion:

“Why shoot on 16mm if the film will be screened digitally? Can you talk about the aesthetic quality that afforded you? Was it worth the extra challenge?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

“I hate all mumblecore films, here’s what I think about this one...”


Brett Haley

What screening?:

The Hero, Tuesday April 4 @ 6:30PM

Who is it?: Writer and director of the tale of a faded Hollywood star (Sam Elliot) who resolves to break from his life commercial voice acting gigs and smoking pot with a former co-star (Nick Offerman) to go for one last big role.

Fuel for Discussion:

"Is age a hard issue to broach with actors and actresses? Does confronting it make the work of directing them more challenging?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"Did Elliot and Offerman have a manliness competition every day?"


Bob Byington

What screening?:

Infinity Baby, Tuesday April 4 @ 9:15PM

Who is it?: The director of an ensemble comedy about babies who don't age, and the comedy the results.

Fuel for Discussion:

"What's most challenging about making a sci-fi comedy work?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"Please explain the baby-anti-aging technology in detail."


Nick Offerman

What screening?:

Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, Tuesday April 4 @ 2:00PM

My Life as a Zucchini, Tuesday April 4 @ 4:30PM

The Hero, Tuesday April 4 @ 6:30PM

Infinity Baby, Tuesday April 4 @ 9:15PM

Who is it?: Best known for this GIF, Nick Offerman has spread his wings in the time since the end of Parks and Recreation, showcasing much of that work at this year's festival. In addition to speaking at length following his passion project, Look and See, he'll be on hand to discuss his voice work on the Oscar-nominated My Life as a Zucchini, and as a co-star in The Hero and Infinity Baby.

Fuel for Discussion:

"What made Wendell Berry such an important figure to you personally, and for the huge slate of high-profile producers on this film?"

"After playing some cartoonish roles in your career, what was it like to play someone a bit more grounded in reality in The Hero?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"I named my dog after Ron Swanson."

"Please sign my eggs and bacon?"


Tobey Libber

Brad Lichtenstein

Morgan Johnson

What screening?:

There Are Jews Here, Wednesday April 5 @ 6:15PM and Thursday April 6 @ 12:00PM

Who is it?: The filmmakers behind a film that follows Jewish families who struggle to maintain connection to their heritage in light of shrinking Jewish communities around them.

Fuel for Discussion:

“Do you think your film is more about Judaism, or about community in general? Could there be a version of your film about Muslims in America, for example?”

Likely Cringeworthy:

“Can we talk about the alt-right for a minute?”


Laura Stewart

What screening?:

Drifting Toward The Crescent, Wednesday April 5 @ 8:00PM

Who is it?: A documentarian with a focus on the economics of small town America, her latest work zooms in on the lives of people living along the Mississippi River between Keokuk, Iowa, and Hannibal, Missouri.

Fuel for Discussion:

"How did you experience exploring this part of the country shape your impression of the cultural and political moment we find ourselves in today?"

Likely Cringeworthy:

"What's the weirdest thing someone said to you, and how racist was it?"