From Thursday October 5 through Thursday, October 12, Milwaukee Film’s 2023 Cultures & Communities Festival will take over the Oriental Theatre—and much of the city itself.

The “eight-day convergence of groundbreaking films, distinguished speakers, and public forums designed to amplify diverse cultural expressions and celebrate community” will include a host of city-wide parties, panel discussions, a “sneaker and streetwear summit,” stand-up sets from comedians Janelle James and Aida Rodriguez, and much more. Find all the event information you need HERE.

But for now, let’s look at the films! Here’s the lineup, complete with synopses from Milwaukee Film. All screenings will take place in the Oriental Theatre’s Abele Cinema—a.k.a. the big theater in the middle. Individual tickets are $12 for the public, $10 for seniors, $9 for Milwaukee Film members, and $6 for kids 12 and under. Get those tickets HERE.

Oh, and a free preview party is set for Thursday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m. Just stop by the Oriental Theatre and enjoy!


The League – 7 p.m.
The Negro League was a stage for some of the world’s best athletes and an economic and social pillar of Black communities. Featuring interviews with Negro League players like Buck O’Neil and Hall of Fame Inductees Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Following the arc of race history in the United States, THE LEAGUE celebrates some of the 20th century’s best athletes and entrepreneurs while grappling with America’s arduous march toward equality.


Every Body – 4 p.m.
From Academy Award-nominee Julie Cohen (RBG) comes EVERY BODY, a timely interrogation of our country’s obsession with gender through the lens of the oft-erased “I” in LGBTQIA — intersex. Recounting their individual experiences with stigma, social pressure, and nonconsensual surgeries performed on them as minors, Sean Saifa Wall, Alicia Roth Weigel, and River Gallo make a case for the much-needed rethinking of both archaic medical practices and binary thinking about sex and gender.

The Space Race – 7 p.m.
MFF alum Lisa Cortés (LITTLE RICHARD) joins forces with Diego Hurtado de Mendoza for this powerful and illuminating story behind the first Black astronauts. Featuring candid interviews with Ed Dwight, Guion Bluford, Charles Bolden, and Victor Glover, this film goes beyond the expected hero narrative to shed new light on our nation’s ongoing racial reckoning and attitudes toward space exploration and scientific discovery.


Fremont – 2:30 p.m.
Donya works for a Chinese fortune cookie factory in San Francisco. As a former Afghan translator for the U.S. military, she struggles to put her new refugee life back in order. Featuring standout performances from newcomer Anaita Wali Zada and THE BEAR’s Jeremy Allen White, FREMONT “finds romance in everyday interactions, and in the easy pleasure of opening up a cookie and reading one’s fortune.” (The Film Stage)

Uncharted – 5:30 p.m.
Go behind the scenes of Alicia Keys’ “She is The Music” songwriting camp with filmmaker Beth Aala in this revealing look at the music industry and its lack of access and opportunity granted to young Black and Brown women. The camp’s three resilient participants take center stage as they try to break through the industry with the next big hit song.

Rotting In The Sun – 8:30 p.m.
When ROTTING IN THE SUN premiered at Sundance, rumors swirled that the mystery-comedy’s nude beach sequence featured a number of non-prosthetic d**ks – and shots of unsimulated sex – that would make even HBO’s EUPHORIA blush. (We stopped count around 30 d**ks, by the way.) Beyond the wild party scenes lies an unforgettable, hilarious, high-tension, NC-17 level queer thrill ride that, unlike its co-leads (influencer Jordan Firstman and filmmaker Sebastián Silva, as themselves) is best kept under wraps.


Kids Shorts: Stay Gold – 12 p.m.
From an Iranian boy who befriends an older woman in Tokyo to a glittery and gritty fairy godmother in Taiwan or America’s first all-girls tackle football league, KIDS SHORTS: STAY GOLD is a vibrant glimpse into inspirational communities and misfit-moxie-heroes around the world who defy convention while finding deep connection along the way. Content note: A non-graphic goat slaughter scene, teens smoking marijuana (legally, in Amsterdam).

Golden Delicious – 2:30 p.m.
When basketball-obsessed Aleks moves in across his street, Asian-Canadian teen Jake finds himself rushing to tryouts to get his attention. Feeling stuck between his parents’ expectations and his desires for the future, Jake decides to shoot his shot. Playing like a binge-worthy DEGRASSI arc, this charming and romantic coming-of-age feature is a winning heart-warmer from the start.

Going To Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project – 6 p.m.
As one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators, Nikki Giovanni’s influence is revealed through the innovative biographical documentary GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT. The film’s cinematic story editing parallels with visual treatments of her poetry, along with rich archival footage and captivating contemporary performances as Giovanni’s work of resistance through tumultuous periods is traced — from the Civil Rights Movement to the Black Arts Movement to present-day Black Lives Matter.


Fancy Dance – 7 p.m.
Since her sister’s disappearance, Jax (Lily Gladstone) has cared for her niece Roki by scraping by on the Seneca-Cayuga Reservation in Oklahoma. At the risk of losing custody to Jax’s father, the pair hits the road and scour the backcountry to track down Roki’s mother in time for the powwow. What begins as a search becomes a far more profound investigation of the complexities and contradictions of Indigenous women moving through a colonized world.


Coldwater Kitchen – 7 p.m.
For 30 years, soft-spoken chef Jimmy Lee Hill has run a highly regarded culinary training program out of prison in Coldwater, MI, offering incarcerated men a renewed sense of purpose through the craft of fine dining — everything from foie gras to lobster. COLDWATER KITCHEN follows Chef Hill and three of his students as they navigate the equally challenging realities of incarceration and transitioning back into civilian life.


Lady Buds – 7 p.m.
LADY BUDS tells the story of six women navigating the industrial age of cannabis in California after its legalization in 2016. As they emerge from the hazy underground and fiercely independent scene before legalization, they must battle corporate greed, sexism and racism, wildfires, and more as they fight to keep their independent spirit ablaze in this inspiring and inquisitive documentary.


Hummingbirds – 7 p.m.
An exciting, fresh, and timely look at coming-of-age in a small Texas town. Co-directors Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía “Beba” Contreras document their friendship through a lazy summer before college. These Gen-Z women have already dealt with issues like immigration and racism and, in the wake of recent Supreme Court rulings, must now contend with a more challenging future. But in the end, this film celebrates friendship, joy, youthful energy, and hope.

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Milwaukee Film announces Cultures & Communities festival headliners

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Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.