The 2015 Milwaukee Film Festival runs Thursday, September 24 through Thursday, October 8. Check out our list of 13 reasons to get excited for the fest here. If you’re looking for daily recommendations and/or when and where to stalk us, look no further.
The Winding Stream (1:30 p.m. – Avalon Theater)
Although the Garth Brooks traveling spectacle that swung through Milwaukee last weekend is about as far from the origins of country music as music can get, even the erstwhile Chris Gaines would undoubtedly swear fealty to the Carter family. No other dynasty has had so profound an effect on a genre of music, yet the Carters’ story seems perennially overshadowed by their association with Johnny Cash, not to mention the more scandalous narratives of stars like Hank Williams and his descendants. We’d say it’s about time the Carters got their due, and The Winding Stream promises to be the expansive documentary that the family deserves. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of testimonials and performances by people you’ve heard of as well: Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, and yes, the Man in Black himself.
Recommended if you like: country music; folk music; the roots of American pop culture.
We Come As Friends (6:45 p.m. – Times Cinema)
It’s not easy for most Americans to keep up with their increasing numbers of social media accounts and the troubles faced by developing African nations, but this powerful documentary (an award-winner at Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival) will get you caught up on South Sudan, at least. The title of We Come As Friends (hint: it’s disingenuous) should give you an indication all by itself that some of the country’s ostensible allies in its quest for a stable democracy may have ulterior motives. Yes, colonialism is alive and well, and what better way to investigate it than via director Hubert Sauper’s “tiny, self-made, tin and canvas flying machine?” This alone makes the visual aspect of the film enticing, as you’ll get a unique aerial perspective in addition to interviews with locals, foreign politicians, religious leaders, and oil tycoons who are all looking for their piece of the pie.
Recommended if you like: current affairs; humanitarian filmmaking; African history.
They Have Escaped (10 p.m. – Avalon Theater)
This is exactly the kind of mess-with-your-head trip that makes us proud to sponsor the festival’s yearly Cinema Hooligante program. They Have Escaped isn’t the creature feature its title suggests, though; the horrors are all too human. Meet Joni and Raisa, a couple of halfway-house escapees who decide to take off into the wilderness, wear animal pelts on their heads, and do lots of drugs together. As you might expect, there’s plenty of visual trickery to go along with the debauchery, but the film isn’t just a series of gimmicks—it just cleaned up at Finland’s Jussi awards, taking home Best Cinematography, Best Film, Best Direction, Best Sound Design, and Best Editing, suggesting that Finland’s award-giving machines are a bit more open-minded than, say, the Oscars. Finland, Finland, Finland; the country where we long to be…
Recommended if you like: dizzying visuals; drugs and violence; Finland.