If our calculations are correct, the 2015 Milwaukee Film Festival is approximately one month and 13 days away. What does that mean? Ignoring for a moment the painful reminder that summer is on its way out, it means that it’s time for festival program announcements. Yay!
First up is the always popular Sound Vision program. Now in its fourth year, the music-based program will include screenings of acclaimed documentaries like The Glamour & The Squalor (the story of DJ Marco Collins, who is scheduled to appear at the fest), Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke’s document of classical pianist Seymour Bernstein), and Theory Of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents (a film about The Residents). Returning for the third year is Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme’s untouchable, unstoppable, and unbelievable document of a 1984 Talking Heads show. A Milwaukee Film Festival tradition, the Stop Making Sense screenings have been less proper screenings than unhinged dance parties. Bring your best giant suit (and/or boombox) and prepare to dance up and down the aisles.
The 7th annual Milwaukee Film Festival takes place September 24-October 8, 2015 at the Landmark Oriental Theatre, Landmark Downer Theatre, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, Times Cinema, and Avalon Theater. Passes and ticket 6-packs are currently available at discounted rates at mkefilm.org/tickets. Check out the full Sound Vision lineup below, courtesy of Milwaukee Film.
Breaking a Monster
(USA / 2015 / Director: Luke Meyer)
In 2007, a tween trio became viral video sensations when footage of them rocking out in Times Square took the Internet by storm. For Unlocking the Truth, a teenage metal band comprised of three African-American boys, this was only the beginning: They became the youngest band ever to play Coachella and signed a million-dollar recording contract with Sony. This documentary follows along the way with their rapid transformation from tween obscurity to opening for Metallica — a hilarious look at juvenile stardom, where young boys have to deal with rehearsals and touring alongside parents, girls and video games.
(France / 2015 / Director: Mia Hansen-Løve)
Epic in scope yet emotionally intimate, Eden is director Mia Hansen-Løve’s love letter to the French electronic music scene that launched Daft Punk. Young DJ Paul forgoes the academic experience in pursuit of a sound he describes as “euphoria and melancholia”. We follow him as the scene explodes from modest house parties to massive dance clubs, plunging him headlong into a world of sex, drugs and garage music (with supporting turns from Daft Punk and Greta Gerwig). Vibrant and pulse-pounding without ever losing sight of its perceptive and compassionate center, Eden crackles with the energy of artistic possibility, an epic dance party going on for decades that you hope never ends.
The Glamour & The Squalor
(USA / 2015 / Directors: Marq Evans)
Meet the man who discovered the music that defined a generation — Marco Collins, one of the last great rock radio DJs. Collins helped break such artists as Nirvana, Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie and Beck while also rekindling an era of popularity for both punk rock and electronic dance music in America. But his story extends far beyond music — battles with drug addiction and stints in rehab as well as a life spent in the closet before becoming an LGBT spokesperson all combine to forge a riveting documentary about a man whose relentless passion created a musical revolution.
Seymour: An Introduction
(USA / 2014 / Director: Ethan Hawke)
Oscar nominated actor Ethan Hawke takes to the director’s chair to bring you one of the best reviewed documentaries of the year, a wonderfully warm and witty portrait of his good friend and classical pianist, Seymour Bernstein. A fitting tribute to an engaging personality, Hawke brings you an intimate and lucid examination of a man who gave up a successful concert career to teach his art to others. Filled with unforgettable stories and touching insights into the creative pursuit and crafting a life filled with meaning, this is one introduction you wish would never end.
Stop Making Sense
(USA / 1984 / Director: Jonathan Demme)
A Milwaukee Film Festival tradition! Come dressed for movement and make sure all aisle-ways are clear for dancing as Jonathan Demme’s essential concert film chronicling multiple nights of propulsive performance from the iconic Talking Heads (including magnetic frontman David Byrne and Milwaukee’s own Jerry Harrison) is sure to burn down the house once again. Gaining momentum like a runaway freight train, the show (and Byrne’s iconic suit) only gets bigger as it rolls along, so remember to pace yourself. This is a joyous marathon, not a sprint.
Theory of Obscurity: A Film about the Residents
(USA, Austria, Germany, Netherlands/ 2015 / Director: Don Hardy Jr.)
For over four decades, the gonzo multimedia art collective The Residents have been staging their avant-garde productions behind a thick shroud of mystery. The identities of its members never revealed (they have and continue to perform in costumes – most famously, giant eyeball masks decked out in matching suits and top hats), we’ve never been afforded to opportunity to peek behind the curtain of these uncompromising artists until now. Featuring interviews with fans (Matt Groening, Ween) and their “business managers” the Cryptic Corporation alongside a treasure trove of archival footage and contemporary documenting of their grandiose anniversary tour, The Residents and their mind-expanding, daringly original work will finally be rescued from obscurity.
The Winding Stream
(USA / 2014 / Director: Beth Harrington)
All roads in American roots music lead through the Carter family, but their dramatic history has never been told on screen – until now. From the Appalachians foothills came a music revolution begun by the original Carter family (A.P., Sara and Maybelle) whose reverberations can still be felt throughout the music world to this very day. Gorgeous recordings of Carter family songs are intertwined with studio performances from a parade of artists inspired by this first family of country music (George Jones, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, one of Johnny Cash’s final filmed appearances) in a comprehensive tribute to timeless music that flows through our culture like a winding stream.
The Wrecking Crew
(USA / 2015 / Director: Denny Tedesco)
Their music won the Best Record of the Year Grammy an unprecedented six consecutive years. Their hit records span decades and number in the hundreds (beneficiaries of their virtuosity include Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Sam Cooke to name only a few). Yet, the public couldn’t name a single member of this legendary outfit. They were the legendary backing band The Wrecking Crew, and their “west coast sound” dominated the music landscape. An upbeat peek behind the curtain at their massively influential labor of love, filled with celebrity testimonials and interviews with the original members that is a must-see for fans of Twenty Feet From Stardom or Muscle Shoals.