Milwaukee Film (MKE Film) has awarded the annual Abele Catalyst Award for 2021 to one of its own—Geraud Blanks (UWM MA Media Studies, 2016), the organization’s chief innovation officer. The award "recognizes a person for their generous support of the nonprofit’s mission while honoring their efforts to think big, aim high, and understand we can always do better," according to the MKE Film announcement.
Blanks, who joins eight previous awardees including Bud & Sue Selig and MKE Film founder Chris Abele, is the first awardee from the MKE Film organization. He first became involved with the group as co-founder in 2014—with Donte McFadden (UWM PhD English, 2013)—of its Black Lens program, designed to bring African American filmmakers to the MKE Film Festival.
"These filmmakers explore stories and topics that are rooted in the Black community, but are relevant to a variety of audiences," according to the MKE Film website. "Black Lens features fiction and documentary films from emerging and established voices and hosts events that inspire conversation, celebration, and community."
Blanks was hired full time by MKE Film in 2019 to start what has become the Cultures and Communities Film Festival, now in its third year.
Blanks also established the MKE Film Minority Health Film Festival, an annual event highlighting health and wellness issues in communities of color.