We’re less than two months away from the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival (September 28 – October 12), but besides Erik Ljung’s The Blood Is At The Doorstep being named the Centerpiece Screening, little is known about this year’s lineup of films. Until now. Today, Milwaukee Film unveiled nine films that will screen at this year’s fest. And guess what? They’re all pretty great.
Want to enjoy some vaguely unsettling nostalgia via some vaguely unsettling puppets? Try Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s The Dark Crystal. Want some Prince? Try Purple Rain. How about some more nostalgia, some local flavor, and some Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch? Try Aladdin, Manlife, and the new season of Twin Peaks, and seriously, what was up with that last episode? Lucky. Need discounted festival passes and tickets? Try clicking here. Need more info? Trailers and synopses are below, courtesy of Milwaukee Film.
(USA | 1992 | Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker)
Program: Rated K: For Kids
Introduce your children to a whole new world of animated excellence on the 25th anniversary of this Disney classic, the unforgettable tale of a street urchin who wins the heart of a strong-willed princess and turns back the evil advances of the nefarious Jafar (and his evil parrot Iago, memorably voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) with the help of a wise-cracking Genie (the late, great Robin Williams).
THE DARK CRYSTAL
(USA | 1982 | Directors: Frank Oz, Jim Henson)
Program: Cinema Hooligante
Before Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and David Bowie’s codpiece combined to make movie history with Labyrinth, there was Jen and his unforgettable adventure to return balance to the universe by healing a magical crystal and uniting two warring races. The Dark Crystal is a family-friendly (bring your Hooligantes-in-training!) journey into a fantastical world filled with wizards, puppets, magic, puppets, cuddly pets, and puppets!
(USA | 2017 | Director: Janicza Bravo)
40-year-old Isaac (Brett Gelman) is a loser. Whether it’s his stalled acting career (consisting of Public Service Announcement auditions for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and a pitiful rendition of Chekov’s The Seagull), the toxic relationship he had with his blind ex-girlfriend (Judy Greer), or a family that can’t disguise their disgust towards him, Isaac is circling the drain of life. But his loss of sanity is our gain in this assured absurdist comedy, filled to the brim with recognizable performers (Michael Cera, Gillian Jacobs, Nia Long) making you laugh and cringe in equal doses.
THE LOST WORLD FEAT. ALLOY ORCHESTRA
(USA | 1925 | Director: Harry O. Hoyt)
Program: Spotlight Presentations
Alloy Orchestra returns to the historic Oriental Theatre, and this time things are going to get prehistoric! This silent adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic tale of a ragtag crew in search of a dinosaur-filled land untouched by time is a rip-roaring adventure that’s fun for the whole family. Combine Willis O’Brien’s pioneering stop-motion effects (eight years before his work on King Kong!) with the vibrant, electric accompaniment only Alloy Orchestra can provide and you have the recipe for an unforgettable night at the movies.
(USA | 2017 | Director: John Carroll Lynch)
Program: American Independents
It’s the role the beloved Harry Dean Stanton was born to play—Lucky, a laconic nonagenarian atheist ambling through his small desert town in pursuit of a fixed routine (exercise, smoke, walk, smoke, eat, smoke), considering the meaning of his life and its fast-approaching terminus. Comic, profound, and fully realized, Lucky is a phenomenal showcase for Stanton and the numerous character actors that populate the frame (including patron saint of the arthouse, David Lynch)—a tribute to all those able to craft lasting impressions in brief amounts of time.
(USA | 2017 | Director: Ryan Sarnowski)
Program: Cream City Cinema
Anyone driving on I-94 in years past couldn’t help but notice the barn with “Study Natural Law” plastered on its side and wonder what it meant. The riveting Manlife shows us truth is stranger than fiction– the barn references the life’s work of Alfred Lawson: baseball player, inventor of the airliner, and creator of an economic/spiritual/philosophical movement known as Lawsonomy. But equally fascinating is the story of the man who has singlehandedly kept Lawsonomy alive for decades: Merle Hayden, Lawson’s last crusader and a man apart in the modern world.
(USA | 1984 | Director: Albert Magnoli)
Program: Sound Vision
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. And what better way to do it than by celebrating His Royal Badness with a screening of his evergreen motion picture debut Purple Rain. A classic story of boy meets girl, girl meets Morris Day, Purple Rain‘s cavalcade of classic Prince jams is sure to leave you grooving in your seat. Let’s Go Crazy together as we all purify ourselves in the cinematic waters of Lake Minnetonka.
REQUIEM FOR A RUNNING BACK
(USA | 2016 | Rebecca Carpenter)
Running back Lew Carpenter had a storied NFL career, winning multiple titles with Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. But upon his passing in 2010, medical officials discovered he had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (better known as CTE), a disorder that leaves those afflicted suffering from rage and social withdrawal. Finally having an explanation for her troubled relationship with her father, Rebecca Carpenter sets out to explore CTE as it breaks into the mainstream conversation, asking tough questions of the NFL while interviewing players, experts, and her father’s former teammates with empathy and candor.
TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
(USA | 2017 | Director: Stanley Nelson)
Program: Black Lens
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have paved the way for over 150 years, allowing black intellectuals, revolutionaries, and artists alike a safe haven in which to pursue higher education and defy stereotypes amongst their peers in an unapologetically black environment. Now, the remarkable story of their role in African-American history can finally be told. Milwaukee Film Festival alum Stanley Nelson (Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution, 2015; Freedom Summer, 2014 ) returns with this captivating panorama of HBCUs from their conception to the modern day, a stirring portrait of perseverance in pursuit of knowledge.