The 7th annual Milwaukee Film Festival kicks off today!!! During the next 16 days, over 300 films will be screened at 5 venues. With this many good films, it might be hard to choose on what films to see. So, we decided to share some of our favorite film picks to help you out. We asked the entire staff to share the film that they are excited to see at the film festival.
Jordan Lee (Program Director)
Breaking A Monster
The story of Unlocking the Truth, a teenage metal band comprised of three very young African-American boys. I discovered these kids, like most did, on YouTube. I love their story, and I can relate to what they go through as young black men you like heavy metal and punk. ( That was me at 12. )
The Milwaukee Music Video Show
Of course, I want to see a program of Milwaukee Music Videos. With bands like GGOOLLDD, Field Report and Lex Allen featured, what's not to love?
Little White Lie
This movie is about a woman raised as a white girl, to find that her mother had an affair with a black man. Coming from a mixed race family, I'm interested in hearing this woman's story of self discovery.
Makenzie Boettcher (Weekend Host)
Tale of the Spotted Cow
Ever wonder how Spotted Cow got so big in Wisconsin? Yeah, me too. Literally a combination of my two favorite things: rags-to-riches stories and good local beer… Need I say more?
Take the Dog
I've been a big fan of director Carol Brandt's work since seeing "Things Found" a few years ago and her short "Give It Up…" at the festival last year and I can't wait to see what's in store with Take The Dog. (Not to mention the soundtrack was done by Milwaukee bands Dinny Bulca, Brat Sounds and King Courteen!)
The Milwaukee Show I & II
These shows continue to be my favorite part of the festival each year- and they keep getting better and better. With shorts ranging from drama to comedy to quirky local tales, the Milwaukee show not only highlights our awesome film community, but also gives us a chance to see the our killer city through so many different perspectives. (P.S: Not to mention the film "Lemon" I produced with director John Roberts is premiering… go see it; it's dark and funny and great.)
Justin Barney (Music Director, weekend host)
Safety Last! (with live accompaniment)
Always go to the film with live musical accompaniment. It's an experience that you will never get outside of the film festival. This year it is the Buster Keaton classic Safety Last! And here is the real beautiful thing about this show, if any theater in Milwaukee would screen Safety Last! a maximum of 15 people would show up to see it, but because it's in the film festival, hundreds of people will get to see this film together. I mean, last year the Oriental was sold out for a screening of an avant-garde Russian documentary from 1929. I love that.
Krisha screened as a short film in the Milwaukee Film Festival last year and it was one of my favorite pieces last year, and I was so excited to see that it was made into a feature length and is now screening at this years Milwaukee Film Festival. And since I saw and loved it last year, I have to see it this year. Krisha follows a recovering alcoholic as she tries to make it through Thanksgiving dinner with her family. The most brilliant part of the short film was the music. It put you inside of her head. When she is sober the music is pulsing and erratic, like a Scott Walker song. It makes you feel stressed out and uncomfortable. Then, when she takes a drink the music changes to Etta James. Beautiful and calming. So she continues to drink even though her surroundings are unraveling and her family turns against her. But the music in her head is beautiful. It really gives insight into a situation like that and I can't wait to see how it turns out as a feature length film.
Shorts: All of them
Every year I see all the short film selections. We see movies all the time. Theaters are always playing them. But no one ever screens a collection of short films. So I see all of them. They are organized by themes like Sports Shorts. Shorts about Sports. and The Best Damn F*#@ing Midnight Program Ever. Sh*t. They are great. And the best thing about shorts is that if if it sucks or you just don't like it, wait 10 minutes and you'll be onto the next one.
Ken Sumka (Assistant Program Director, Afternoon Host)
The Wrecking Crew
Fascinating doc about the (mostly) unheralded studio (music) session players in Los Angeles in the 60's-70's. Full disclosure: one of my best friends, Emmy-award winning Claire Scanlon edited it.
Short directed by visual artist (and former Replacements drummer) Chris Mars.
The Theory of Obscurity
A Film About The Residents- It's a scary wormhole to go down but The Residents are a truly weird crew. In an age of total narcissism, these guys and gals somehow saw the future and ran from it and embraced it at the same time. They sought anonymity, yet embraced technology.
7 Chinese Brothers
Jason Schwartzmann and Tunde Adembempe and an R.E.M. song reference? How could that be bad?
Marcus Doucette (Imaging Manager, Mid-Morning Host)
A classic adventure story set during WWI in Saudi Arabia and set in many of the same locales as Lawrence of Arabia. Idk, I'm really drawn to exotic films with incredible cinematography and this one checks all the boxes for me.
We Come As Friends
A new documentary delving into the complexities of the situation in Southern Sudan and it's a doozy. A clash of cultures, Imperialism and colonialism come to light in a doc that aims at helping shed the light of understanding on a very contemporary issue.
The Black Panthers: The Vanguard of Revolution
A trip back in time to explore the history of the Black Panther Movement, the oft-maligned group that refused to take a back seat. Pushing civil rights issues to the fore and threatening the status quo at a time when the consequences often led to death. This one has Marcus written all over it.
Francesca Kempfer (Development Director)
A coming of age story about a teenager – – – a theme I love as a parent of three. The film is about girl with a very sheltered upbringing (raised by a priest on an island off the Maine Coast) who is haunted by the disappearance of a classmate at sea. She ends up joining the missing boy’s father on his lobster boat and struggles with her identity and future. I chose this because one of the two co-writers and producers, Matthew Konkel, is a friend of mine and I’m impressed with his devotion to the project and filmmaking.
The Sonatina is a short film about a man in a dead end job at a thrift shop who is inspired by the donation of a piano to pursue a musical future. I like the theme of one simple thing leading to a big change in somebody’s life and passions.
Doris Wessels (Traffic Manager/Underwriting Assistant)
The Winding Stream
The little bit I know about the Carter family history has always been interesting to me, and I am excited to learn more. I don’t even like country music, but the Carter family is bigger than that – it’s the history of American music.
The Glamour & the Squalor
Of course the person who started in rock radio 21 years ago wants to go see the movie about “one of the last great rock radio DJs.” I had actually never heard of Marco Collins, but I am definitely familiar with the stations where he worked, and it sounds like he was in his heyday in one of my favorite times in my career and in music, the mid-90s.
The 414s: the Original Teenage Hackers
Short film playing before “Raiders!,” but so interesting – these young guys from Milwaukee hacked into Los Alamos National Lab! The story was on the cover of Newsweek. And this was 1983.
Little White Lie
This sounds fascinating. I heard a similar story on “This American Life” once, and the family dynamics and impacts of a lie like this are so interesting, how things can snowball without thinking through the impact way down the road.
I like to go see German language films to make sure I can still understand German beyond what we speak at home.
Lizzie Hoeppner (Executive Administrator & Special Projects Manager)
I am always curious to know the behind-the-scenes story of someone fame or infamy. This documentary promises to evoke challenging questions – and uncover a little of what it is like to be old, alone, an artist, a friend and a man.
?A Ballerina's Tale
To me, dance, and especially ballet, is an an incredible joining of human physicality and rhythm, with something more mysterious in the music it responds to. I have read about Misty's achievements, and can't wait to learn more in this documentary. ?
Josey Builds a Bakery
I love food. I love learning how my generation's care for where their food comes from, and what they do to make our food industry better. This film charts the building of a bakery in San Francisco: bread, coffee & collaboration. #foodfuture –
Maegan Eli Krause (photographer/videographer)
I studied the French language and culture for 7 years, and I have a passion for french cinema. Some of my favorite films are French. ("Et soudain, tout le mode me manque" —— "Le Herrison" —— "Les femmes du 6e etage” — — “Bienvenue chez les ch’tis” ) Therefore I am excited to see Zouzou, and potentially discover a new favorite French film!
RUN BOY RUN
I’ve always enjoyed films and documentaries about World War II and Nazi occupation. This film looks very interesting.
WE COME AS FRIENDS
This movie is about Sudan being divided into two nations. This film looks like it has the ability to educate me on many levels. I like watching films that teach me about other places and cultures, reminding me that there is more to the world than I am exposed to living here in the U.S.
This film is about “marriage abduction” in Ethiopia, and one young girl who escapes her captors. It sounds both educational and emotionally striking.
MY LOVE, DONT CROSS THAT RIVER
There is a part of me that is a total hopeless romantic. This documentary has the potential to be both terrible and amazing – and I can’t resist the temptation to see a film that helps me feel like lasting love can still exist. Thus, i’ll be most definitely be watching a documentary on “100-year-old-lovebirds”.
Tarik Moody (Digital Director/ Evening Host)
I’m huge a fan of documentaries and I will post my top 10 documentaries not to be missed at the Milwaukee Film Festival late. These are my picks for feature fiction films.
I love films set in a post-apocalyptic future. Take bikes, Mad Max, and Japanese movies like Godzilla and you have a winner. The film is part of the Cinema Hooligante series.
This French film is set in early days of the French electronic music scene that launched the career of Daft Punk. The film tells the story of a young DJ trying to make it in the scene.
One For The Road
This Mexican film is a heartwarming story of 3 old friends on a journey filled with humor and drama.
Amelinda Burich (Digital Coordinator)
He Named Me Malala
Any NPR piece or talk show clip featuring Malala Yousafzai makes my eyes water and my throat choke up. Feeling for both the struggles of females still happening in the world, but also her moving story of survival, Yousafzai’s mission is a powerful one and a portrait film that I would love to see. Maybe best to pair my popcorn with a side of tissues.
The Seventh Seal
OMG! You had me at Ingmar Bergman on 35mm.
The Milwaukee Music Video Show
Milwaukee music videos have been an excellent showcase of not only the local music talent, but the talent of local indie filmmakers as well. Both mediums have been lifting each other up on the national scale in recent months and this should be a great survey of the current scope of both in Milwaukee.
Safety Last! (w/ live accompaniment)
I’ve always found silent films to be much more engaging on the big screen and this screening includes use of the Oriental Theater’s own Kimball organ – over 3,000 pipes! I would go even if it were “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on repeat, but Scott Foppiano will surely perform something great, complete with sound effects. Double feature of Buster Keaton’s The Electric House and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! promises some great laughs and big city landscapes.
The Milwaukee Film Festival is always a great place to be in awe of our local talent. The trailer to Uncle John depicts gorgeous Wisconsin-based cinematography paired with a sense of dread and growing tension that is so satisfying in a thriller.
7 Chinese Brothers
I’ll admit I am a sucker for any movie or television show with Jason Schwartzman in it. Add Tunde from TV on the Radio and the promise of character-driven comedy and this becomes my “must see” choice of the Fest.