Big screens, small screens, it doesn’t matter: The Milwaukee Film Festival is the best.
Okay, fine—big screens would be great, but that ain’t happening this year. Instead, the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival will be an all-virtual affair, running October 15-29. Passes ($140-$160, $75 for Milwaukee Film members) are on sale NOW. Individual tickets ($8, $5 for Milwaukee Film members) will go on sale October 15 at 4 p.m.
You can find the full 197-film lineup HERE. Want it in a printable PDF format? Click HERE. As for how to watch the films (what apps to use, time windows, etc.), please check out an incredibly handy guide HERE.
Here are just a few program highlights:
Opening Night: I USED TO GO HERE
Thirty-something Kate (Gillian Jacobs) has just published her first book. She should feel proud, but with all of her friends getting married and having kids, she feels like she’s missing out. Things look up when she gets invited to her alma mater by her favorite professor (Jemaine Clement) to talk about her success as a writer. But her trip isn’t quite the victory lap she imagines and hilarious hijinks ensue in this heartfelt crowd-pleaser from Kris Rey (Unexpected).
Centerpiece Selection: COMING CLEAN
Coming Clean, the latest from virtuoso documentarian Ondi Timoner, examines the opioid crisis from the inside, exploring the painful experiences of those in recovery and of policymakers working to undo the systems and industries that perpetuate – and even thrive off of – addiction. This timely documentary offers innovative solutions, while also exposing the uphill battle against the forces of corporate greed and deeply-held stigmas.
Art & Artists: THE CAPOTE TAPES
Famed socialite author Truman Capote is at the center of this riveting documentary that sheds new light on the final days and works of one of America’s towering literary figures. Based on newly discovered interviews conducted by The Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton, The Capote Tapes examines Capote’s unfinished final novel, which caused a scandal when published excerpts exposed the secrets of a Manhattan social aristocracy that had adopted Capote as its own.
Black Lens: GROWING UP MILWAUKEE
Tyshun Wardlaw’s feature documentary debut follows three young Black people growing up in the heart of our city as they grapple with daily experiences of racism and segregation, while fighting to avoid becoming a statistic. Stark yet hopeful, Wardlaw’s film is essential viewing for all of Milwaukee, to see through the eyes of these young folks and build empathy around their singular, yet all too familiar, experiences.
Cinema Hooligante (sponsored by Milwaukee Record): SON OF THE WHITE MARE
The psychedelic animated masterpiece from 1981 finally gets the 4K restoration it deserves. Son Of The White Mare is based on a Hungarian folk myth about three brothers who embark on a quest to save three princesses from the evil dragons holding them captive. The film is widely regarded as the best animated film of all time and is a visual marvel. Make sure to watch it on the biggest screen in your house.
Cream City Cinema: RINGOLEVIO
Ada is nervous: She is headed up north to meet her free-spirited girlfriend’s family. As she settles in, her feeling of being out of place rises as she encounters one tradition and inside joke after another, including the game that provides the film’s title. Milwaukee filmmaker Kristin Peterson’s feature debut is a warm dramedy that takes this familiar feeling and turns it over to ask how humans ever really connect with one another.
Sound Vision: BILLIE
The unforgettable singer of “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit,” Billie Holiday remains one of the most iconic voices in jazz. In the 1970s, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl began work on the definitive biography of Holiday, recording over 200 hours of interviews on cassette before Kuehl’s untimely death in 1978. Featuring never-before-heard interviews from figures in Holiday’s life, this documentary presents a new portrait of one of the most complex artists in music history.
Documentary Festival Favorites: CODED BIAS
Meet Joy Buolamwini, your new favorite superhero. Shalini Kantayya’s sobering and gripping documentary plays like an episode of “Black Mirror” as we meet Buolamwini, an irrepressible “poet of code” who, while working at MIT, discovers deep inaccuracies in facial recognition technology when it encounters dark-skinned or female faces. She then sets out to do something about it, forming the “Algorithmic Justice League” to combat inequities in both who codes and how technology ought to be regulated.
Aubrey Plaza Is In This: BLACK BEAR
A filmmaker (the fantastic Aubrey Plaza) embarks on a rural retreat to recharge her creative batteries. In no time, she’s pulled into the host couple’s internecine drama. Things reach their boiling point, when suddenly everything we as the audience understand to be true is shaken up and tossed aside. Filled with hairpin twists and turns reminiscent of Mullholland Dr., Black Bear is the type of movie you’ll want to begin again the moment it ends.
Yes, They’re Doing A Virtual STOP MAKING SENSE Dance Party (October 24, 9 p.m.)
We weren’t going to let some global pandemic keep us from our favorite tradition, so welcome to the virtual dance party. Stream our dance-party event on one screen (mute yourself, pls) and put the film on the biggest, loudest screen you’ve got. Don’t miss this one-night only separate-but-together dance-along to the greatest concert film ever made, Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense, featuring the Talking Heads.