by Stephen Milek
Last year at the Milwaukee Film Festival one of my favorite Milwaukee Short Films was The Fox in the Fan directed by Carol Brandt. This year she returns to the Festival with the world premiere of her first feature film Dear Coward on the Moon. Don’t be deceived by the title, this is not a science fiction film, but a family drama mixed with fantasy. The film is a quiet observation of a family just trying to keep it together. The film is beautifully shot and has a great cast. It will definitely be one of the highlights of this year Milwaukee Film Festival.
by Stephen Milek
If you are a movie fan in Milwaukee then Fall is your favorite time of year. There are tons of film festivals going on and kicking it off is the Milwaukee Short Film Festival. In its 19th year the Milwaukee Short Film Festival is the longest running film festival in the area. This will be their first time at the Foxbay Cinema Grill so being able to see these films on the big screen will be amazing. My love of short films is well known (if you don’t know check out my article I wrote about My Love for Short Films) and this event is always a good time. Something I always say about film festivals are there is something for everyone. What I wanted to do here is highlight a few types of films you can see at the festival.
LOCAL and FOREIGN Films - One of the great things about the Milwaukee Short Film Festival is that it has a great combination films from around the world. Not only will you get great foreign films but also great local films. And the best part is that many of the local filmmakers will be at the screenings. Hanging out with filmmakers and getting to ask them questions or just chatting with them is always one of the best things at a festival.
COMEDY - I feel when most people think of short films they expect comedies. Short films are perfect for the quick joke or an extended joke that would get to tiresome in a feature films. Pretty much any block you pick will have a share of comedy shorts. If you make it to opening night The Log is a great example of a short film that hits the comedy just right. The movie is a gender role reversal where a man is told he needs to perform a scene for a movie naked. But there is something about his body he doesn’t want anyone to know. This 8 minute film from Finland goes by like a breeze and keeps you laughing the whole time. The film will play as part of the Juried Films Part 1 on September 8th at 6:45 pm.
ACTION- While big budget action movies keep getting longer and longer there are some films that prove you don’t need over 3 hours to tell a good story. A good example is the local film Recycle. The film starts with a drug raid on a hotel room. It’s suspenseful and gets you ready for anything. But the film doesn’t stop there. We jump ahead in time and now the boy is older but something from his childhood is going to come back. The movie is the perfect blend of action and comedy and has one of the best twists. Directed by Spencer Ortega the film will play as part of the Juried FIlms Part 1 on September 8th 6:45 pm .
HORROR- A movie doesn’t have to be long to scare you. Sometimes it just needs a few minutes. Like feature films short films can find a lot of ways to scare you or disturb you. For example Don’t Cry, Papa directed by Danny Villanueva Jr. is a movie that keeps you guessing the whole time. The 5 minute film has one character who we see pleading with the killer of his daughter. But we don’t see the killer at first and we don’t know what Papa did. J. Anthony Ramos is the only actor in the film and his performance is spot on and he really sells the emotion. The film will play as part of the Voice Heard Short Block on September 8th 9pm. The Voices Heard Program is a collection of local films from multicultural directors. It’s great to see films from the perspective of a diverse group of people
DOCUMENTARY- Documentary shorts are one of my favorite types of short films. There are so many interesting people or events in the world that this is a great way to get a glimpse of them. There are documentaries scattered throughout the festival. One of them that really interested me is We All Bleed Red. This documentary recounts the events of the Sikh Temple Shooting in Oak Creek. The shooting happened about 10 minutes from my house so the movie hits close to home for me. With interviews from the first responding officers with dashcam footage from their patrol cars we get a small glimpse of what happened that day.
Another documentary playing is Inside Out. Unlike We All Bleed Red this one focuses on a specific person rather than an event. Here we learn about Salvatore a boxer who moves to Milwaukee and joins the Cream City Boxing Gym. There he finds a home and mentors who help him become a boxing champion. It’s a great story of a fighter who overcomes many challenges to find where he belongs.
We All Bleed Red will play September 9th at 6:45 pm
Inside Out will play September 9th at 9 pm.
ANIMATION - We all have experience with short animated stories while growing up. But what if you like your animated stories a bit more adult? Well that is where animated shorts come in. They can explore about any topic and can be mind bending. A Women Apart is a great example of an adult animated tale. The movie is a stop motion animation about a woman in a dungeon. Today she is to be executed but can she say anything that will change the executioners mind? The movie looks great and is sure to leave people thinking. A Woman Apart plays September 9th at 4:30 pm.
EXPERIMENTAL - I will be honest and admit that Experimental shorts are my least favorite kind. But the great thing about shorts is they don’t last long so even if you don’t like it it will be over shortly. But if you love the kind of trippy and warped sense that experimental films bring you won’t be dissapointed. Vito Valenti a Milwaukee Short Film favorite returns with another mind bending film Neo-Ferals: The Gathering. Using dolls and whatever else he can find Valenti mixes visuals and music that make for a unique experience. Neo-Ferals: The Gathering plays September 9th at 4:30 pm.
PACE-SETTER AWARD - If seeing a fantastic block of movies isn't enough if you make it to the opening night of the festival you will be to see myself and Christopher receive the Pace-Setter Award. It's a true honor to receive the award from the Milwaukee Independent Film Society which has honored those who are making a difference in Milwaukee film scene. It's been amazing getting to know some of the filmmakers in the area and we hope to continue to cover the emerging film scene in Milwaukee.
These are just a sampling of what you can expect. If you like drama, romance, or anything else then you will definitely see something you like. Tickets for the 19th Milwaukee Short Film Festival can be purchased here hope to see everyone there.
A film fan from an early age, Chris is a true cinephile. Starting with his first big screen experience, Star Wars to the current indie films, it's obvious he is obsessed with film. Chris has been writing about film and television since the early days of the internet.
A lover of all movies. Steve will watch anything from classic silent films to modern horror films. Obsessed with the Oscars and Film festivals. Steve prides himself on watching every movie on the AFI 100 Greatest Movies and every Oscar winner.