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Ethan Hawke to visit Milwaukee for screenings of his new film

Maya Hawke (left) plays author Flannery O'Connor under the watchful eye of director (and dad) Ethan Hawke in the new film "Wildcat."
Milwaukee Film
Maya Hawke (left) plays author Flannery O'Connor under the watchful eye of director (and dad) Ethan Hawke in the new film "Wildcat."

It’s been a big week for “Hollywood comes to Milwaukee.” A few days ago, John Ridley announced an event at Nō Studios to accompany the premiere of his new movie, Shirley, at the Oriental Theatre on March 14. Two months later, Milwaukee Film will bring another star to town when Ethan Hawke visits for two screenings of his film, Wildcat.

“Ever since our screenings of his documentary series, The Last Movie Stars, in July of 2022, we’ve been looking for ways to get Ethan to see our gorgeous cinema palace,” Milwaukee Film artistic director Cara Ogburn said in a release. “And we are so honored to get to bring him to the Oriental Theatre with his latest project alongside the film’s editor and friend of our organization, Barry Poltermann, for what is sure to be an inspiring Q&A.

“The film will challenge your assumptions about the relationships between an author’s life and work, so I’m excited to dig into those choices made in the filmmaking process with our audiences in May.”

Hawke and Poltermann will both be on hand for a Q&A session following showings of Wildcat at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19. The movie is the latest directorial effort from Hawke, who helmed his first big-screen project in 2001 and has gone on to sit in the big chair for five in all. On the music front, he also directed the music videos for Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories’ breakout “Stay (I Missed You) and Ben Dickey’s “Down the Shore.”

In Wildcat, he tackles the story of Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor and gets the chance to work with his daughter, Maya Hawke, in the lead role. The film centers on O’Connor getting diagnosed with lupus (the disease that killed her father) at 24 and visiting her mother, Regina (played by Laura Linney).

“The inspiration for Wildcat came many years ago, when my daughter, Maya, was trying to find an audition piece for Juilliard,” Ethan Hawke said in the release. “[I]nstead of turning to Shakespeare or Chekov, she assembled a monologue from entries in O’Connor’s Prayer Journal, a personal diary Flannery had written in her youth.

“When Maya stood in the kitchen and performed it for our family, it blew us away… even after [her acceptance to Juilliard] it seemed Flannery served as a personal touchstone.”

Tickets for both Q&A screenings are on sale now via the Milwaukee Film website.