conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


Film fest rolls on


September 26, 2011

When director John Roberts debuts his 15-minute short, "The Wheel," at the Milwaukee Film Festival, the steampunk fable will be a showcase for local talent and the city itself.

The festival, which last year drew more than 30,000 attendees during its 11-day run, is scheduled Sept. 22-Oct. 2. Screenings will be held at the Landmark Downer Theater and Landmark Oriental Theatre on Milwaukee’s East Side, Marcus North Shore Cinema in Mequon and Marcus Ridge Cinema in New Berlin.

Roberts, who was awarded the festival’s artist-in-residence post for his 2009 film, "Mary’s Friend," assembled a veteran Milwaukee crew for "The Wheel." All of them worked pro bono, he notes, "literally just to make something cool." He co-produced the film with Mark Foote, with cinematography by Carlo Besasi.

"The Wheel," scripted by Ryan Plato, is the story of a family whose fate is to maintain a gargantuan wheel that balances the world. Visually, it plays industrial chic against a fairy tale aesthetic, shot on location at the Schuster Mansion bed and breakfast and The Iron Horse Hotel. Roberts says every scene looks like a painting.

"I really couldn’t have done this anywhere else," Roberts adds. "There is something about this place either being green or people more willing to do things for the sake of making art."

"Mary’s Friend" went on to a screening at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and Roberts is hoping "The Wheel" will be his calling card for the full-length feature he is working on now.

For more information, go to or "like" Milwaukee Film on Facebook.

— Nan Bialek


This story ran in the September 2011 issue of: