Milwaukee Film Festival to move forward with showing Russian and Ukrainian films amid conflict

NOW: Milwaukee Film Festival to move forward with showing Russian and Ukrainian films amid conflict

MILWAUKEE, (CBS 58) -- Many local stores and organizations from the Milwaukee area have reacted to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

A local liquor store, and Kroger, are both removing Russian vodka from shelves, or a local gift shop changing their name from 'Russian Gifts' to 'European gifts' amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Internationally, the Cannes Film Festival banned Russian delegations this year.

Here locally, Milwaukee Film Festival officials said they're taking a different path.

Next month people will be lining up at the box office at the Oriental Theatre for the Milwaukee Film Festival in person once again for the first time in two years, among the films being shown will be Ukrainian and Russian films.

"Obviously, the organization, our team, our staff, our board is devastated by the ongoing war in Ukraine today and it did cause us to pause," said Milwaukee Film CEO Jonathan Jackson.

He said they stand against Putin's regime and the invasion of Ukraine.

Jackson says that isn't all there is to it however.

"We're an organization that is not about censorship, we're about sharing art and sharing artists visions to help prompt dialog and help prompt communications," said Jackson.

He said that's why, unlike some film festivals, they will be showing films from Russia.

"The movies we're showing are not made by the Russian state, no funds will in any way shape or form go to the Russian state or a private entity in Russia," said Jackson.

The films are being shown through American distribution companies that have already paid the artists.

Jackson said the bottom line for them is punishing Russian people. Many of which do not support what's going on, isn't doing any good.

"There is I think a very reactionary culture that we're in right now and I can't imagine what censoring an individual artist's work is going to do to help support some stance against a Russian regime," said Jackson.

There's no word yet on what Russian and Ukrainian films will be showing next month during the Milwaukee Film Festival, which runs from April 21 through May 5.

But, they did say all ticket proceeds will be going unannounced at this time to the Ukrainian humanitarian relief organization.

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