Milwaukee Film Festival’s 2020 program is out — here’s how to watch, and what to watch

Milwaukee Film Festival’s 2020 program is out — here’s how to watch, and what to watch

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We’re 88Nine’s Justin Barney and Milwaukee Film’s Kpolly. We’re buds, we like cinema — we’re Cinebuds.

Kpolly here. The 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival kicks off on Oct. 15 and runs through Oct. 29. With the festival going all virtual this year we thought a little introduction to the fest would be called-for!

The full festival line-up was announced this week and you can find all those films at and start compiling your list of must-sees. If you’d like to buy a pass to see as many films as humanly possible, those are on sale now at (As always, members get them cheaper, so becoming a member is a great idea — Or you can wait till the festival starts and buy individual tickets.  

Once you buy your pass or your tickets, you’ll access the films through our site. You can watch them on your computer, or you can connected a laptop to your TV with a simple HDMI chord, or you can download the Milwaukee Film app if you have Roku, Android TV, AppleTV or Amazon Fire.  

If you find the idea of a virtual festival overwhelming, no worries. We have some amazing resources to help you navigate through. Check out This has a great overview of how everything works.  And within that doc there’s even a little quiz you can take that helps find out how to watch based on the devices you prefer. And has every conceivable answer to every conceivable question you might have. And if you somehow — defying all natural law —  still find a question that hasn’t been answered, just reach out to and we’ll be happy to help.

Whew! Now on to the films! Here are just a couple of the films I’m looking forward to:

Pick 1: “H Is For Happiness”

I love a cool kids movie now and then. And since this one was described as a little bit John Hughes, a little Wes Anderson, and a little Pedro Almadovar, this one seems like that absolutely counts as such.  

Pick 2: “Jumbo”


Man, I really go for a film with a super odd premise.  And in this film, a young woman falls in love with a carnival ride.  Done. I’m all in.  Tired of predictable narratives?  I can’t imagine figuring this one out ahead of time! The film stars Noemie Merlant from “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which is another great reason to watch.

Pick 3: “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life”

Most famously, Dr. Sacks is the writer of Awakenings, the book that the Robin Williams film was based on. Not that this isn’t a great achievement, but it’s maybe half way up the list of amazing things that the good doctor has done. Treat yourself to the life of a truly delightful and brilliant man.

Justin’s thoughts and picks

Honestly, looking at the program I am just happy about how much it’s the same. Seeing “Stop Making Sense” in the program book put a big goofy grin on my face. Scrolling down to peek at the Shorts and knowing that Anna Sampers will, as she always does, DELIVER on some truly bizarre shorts that I will love. And I am very excited to troll your office hours so hard. 

When going through the program book for the first time I usually follow a similar pattern. I look for directors I know who are releasing a new movie that I will probably like, I get excited about all the docs that feature subjects that are interesting, then I try to pick a couple true discoveries, some movies I have absolutely zero context for, that look interesting for one reason or another. Here are my top three pics for this years festival. 

Pick 1: “About Endlessness”

“About Endlessness”

(First off, let me say, there is DEFINITELY a recency bias when it comes to the program. I always want to see the very first pictures that appear in the program. I don’t think there is any way around this, but I am NOT picking this movie because it is the first movie that appears in the program, okay, maybe a bit, but not completely.) 

“About Endlessness” is the new film from Swedish director Roy Andersson. There was a time in my life when people would ask what my favorite movie of all time was, and I would answer Roy Andersson’s “You The Living.” He is a director with a signature color palate: drab. Signature tone: boring humor and signature subject matter: normal life done with a dash of absurdity. He’s an auteur and this is sure to interesting and great. 

Pick 2: “America’s Socialist Experiment”

This movie is as Milwaukee as it gets. It’s a documentary about Milwaukee history. Done by a Milwaukee director. Featuring Milwaukee actors. Screening in Milwaukee. AND IT’S GOT JOHN GURDA. 

Pick 3: “maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore”

This is the pick that is a true discovery for me. It is the description in the program. At once otherworldly and familiar, this film follows Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier’s wanderings as they contemplate the afterlife, rebirth, and the place in between. Spoken mostly in Chinuk Wawa, their stories depart from the Chinookan origin of death myth, with its distant beginning and circular shape. MFF alum Sky Hopinka returns with this feature debut, allowing the viewer to also wonder and wander as we question humanity’s place alongside and within the natural world. 
Sounds great!    

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