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How a true-crime film cuts through agendas and comes together

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Every week, Kristopher Pollard from Milwaukee Film and Radio Milwaukee’s Dori Zori talk about movies — because that’s what you do when you’re Cinebuds.

We’ve done a lot of episodes of the podcast over the years. But there’s always new ground to break, and we break it in a big way on this episode with our first-ever interview with a Wisconsin filmmaker: Michael Neelsen, the director behind true-crime documentaryBeyond Human Nature.

The film is part of this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival, and we want to be very careful about giving too much away, so let’s just stick to the official synopsis: “When a man is murdered by drowning in a paper pulp vat, a small town clamors for justice as his brother faces the slippery nature of objective truth. Beyond Human Nature chronicles the grisly Tom Monfils homicide investigation of 1992 through the eyes of the people who lived it.”

True crime is a huge genre right now, and it’s fascinating to hear how a project like this develops. Neelsen talks to Dori about every aspect of that journey, which started at the 2013 Green Bay Film Festival and took nine years of research, interviews and filmmaking craft to reach the final destination.

They also discuss what inspired Neelsen, a Milwaukee native whose previous documentary — Last Day at Lambeau — took on a decidedly different topic: Brett Favre’s departure from the Green Bay Packers (the more things change …)

It’s a great interview, and we wholeheartedly agree with what Neelsen said about our rare departure from the usual Cinebuds formula to chat with a Wisconsin filmmaker: “I’m honored to be the first one, and hopefully there’s many more.”

Beyond Human Nature has two showings at the 2023 Milwaukee Film Festival: 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Times Cinema; and 9:15 p.m. Monday, May 2, at the Oriental Theatre. We’ll have more about the festival in our next couple episodes, so make sure you subscribe to catch those previews and follow @cinebudspodcast on Instagram for everything about the podcast.