One of Milwaukee’s favorite festivals, the Milwaukee Film Fest, returns tonight! Adding to the excitement of this year is Milwaukee Film’s, the festival’s primary sponsor, recent acquisition of Oriental Theatre set to remodel in 2018.
The excitement of this year’s films could have something to do with the new ownership, or it could just be my excitement, or of course, it could be both. One thing is for certain: the films are exciting and fitting for a festival heading into its ninth installment.
There’s something for every film buff at five different local theaters between the festival’s runtime, Sept. 28 through Oct. 12, including the newly-acquired Oriental Theatre, which reflects the festival’s prominence of past years. Everything from documentary films to fantastic shorts are on the schedule of events. I already have some favorites starting on opening night.
The festival opens with Stumped, a film about an aspiring professor of film who remaps his aspirations after encountering a medical condition. The subject of film is sure to inspire all film lovers.
Immediately following Stumped is an opening night party kicking off at 9 p.m. at Good City Brewing where filmgoers can enjoy refreshments, live music, and discuss the top films on a rooftop. There are several events that follow up screenings this year. “Let’s Go Crazy: A Celebration of Prince” is a celebration of the music icon that will take place after a showing of the 1984 classic Purple Rain on Friday, Sept. 29.
One of the highlights of the festival this year are the classics. The 1982 thriller Poltergeist will show on Sept. 29. 1990s classic Love Jones, which falls under the festival’s Black Lens umbrella, is showing the next day, Sept. 30. The special thing about Love Jones is its 20th anniversary and the screening will be accompanied by an interview with the film’s star, Larenz Tate.
This year does not fall short on the fest’s purpose with programs like the Black Lens. Another film under the Black Lens umbrella, 72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story? will be accompanied by a panel discussion on notions of “black love” in the 21st century. This tale of a young adult having to make decisions about love and his future in so little time can be added to my list of favorites alongside ACORN and the Firestorm, Civic Art: Four Stories From South Los Angeles, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, Person to Person, Like Cotton Twines, The Cage Fighter, and Bronx Gothic.
One of my favorite things about the festival this year is the focus on local films. Milwaukee native John Ridley returns to the festival with his moving documentary on the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992. The Milwaukee Music Video Show, The Milwaukee Show I ( and II ), and The Milwaukee Youth Show are shorts on local happenings which add to the Milwaukee theme.
Amongst one of the most anticipated films at the festival this year is a Milwaukee-based project. The Blood Is at the Doorstep directed by Erik Ljung chronicles the aftermath of the killing of Dontre Hamilton at the hands of police in 2014. Shot over the course of three years, the documentary takes on Hamilton’s family and their fight for justice. The Blood Is at the Doorstep made its world premiere at the SXSW film festival earlier this year.
I could go on about the list of films I want to see, which includes another documentary and is a local piece. Requiem for a Running Back, a film about former Green Bay Packer Lew Carpenter directed by his daughter, Rebecca Carpenter, caught my eye the first time I saw the schedule. The film is above all timely for the sports world.
There’s also Bill Nye: Science Guy, a documentary on the one and only Bill Nye, The Science Guy.
But I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll end my preview here and you can see for yourself!
To learn more about the festival, film synopsis, schedules, and how to purchase tickets, visit https://mkefilm.org/.