by Stephen Milek
Once again the Opening night movie at the Milwaukee Film Festival was a documentary. This year that documentary was Stumped. The film is a continuation of the short film of the same name that played a few years ago at the Milwaukee Film Festival. I love that the festival organizers like to take chance with opening up with a documentary and this one while it might not be a great film it was a crowd pleaser.
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.
by Stephen Milek
It’s hard to believe that Sundance is rapidly approaching. As we start the Oscar season this year Sundance is already announcing movies that we will probably be talking about next year. Sundance’s first big announcement is the competition films and NEXT films.
Most of these are world premieres from up and coming directors so very little known about the movies or directors. Although some come with big names attached. Probably the biggest film announced today is Ghost Story in the NEXT category. It was a secret film that reteamed director David Lowery with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara the stars of his breakout hit Ain’t them Body Saints. Among the documentaries announced we have another Jon Benet Ramsey doc but this time with a twist. One that could prove to be fascinating is a documentary about the Hulk Hogan vs Gawker trial.
There is also a new program this year call New Climate that will feature documentaries about “climate change and environmental preservations”. While the Film Festival has always had documentaries that dealt with environmental issues (An Inconvenient Truth, Gasland, and Chasing Ice) this is the first time it has had its own category. More info about the program will be coming but there are titles announced today that will be in the program.
Let us know what movies sound interesting to you?
by Stephen Milek
One of the highlights for me at the Milwaukee Film Festival is the Milwaukee Show. The Milwaukee Show highlights great short films from local talent. Recently they added two shows so now we get even more great films to watch. This year the talent did not disappoint. Below are my 10 favorite films from the Milwaukee Shows.
Short films have the ability to tell a compelling story in a short amount of time. They can be funny, sad, serious, or scary. There are no limits on what a short film can be except short. I saw over 50 short films at the Milwaukee Film Festival and listed here are my Top 5 Short Fiction movies and my Top 5 Short Documentaries.
by Stephen Milek
Every year the Milwaukee Film Festival brings hundreds of films to Milwaukee for 2 weeks. When they release the films that will be playing it's always a guessing game to figure out what films to see since most of the movies are ones I never heard of. This year I set a new record for number of movies I saw unfortunately few failed to really impress me. Now there are a number of reasons why this could have happened. Either I did a really bad job at picking movies this year, or the films Milwaukee Film picked weren't very good. Odds are I just didn’t pick very well. But there are a number of films that I did enjoy and I want to highlight them.
I am going to break up my list to my 5 favorite fiction films and 5 favorite documentaries. I am going to start with just my favorite features but check back for my favorite shorts and my 10 Favorite Milwaukee Shorts.
Lots to delve into so let’s get started.
by Stephen Milek
When I tell people I am going to the Milwaukee Film Festival one of the first things they ask is "do they show anything good?" Of course they do. With over 300 films playing there is something for everyone; it's all a matter of finding ones you will like. What people might not realize is just because the Milwaukee Film Festival doesn't have the name recognition like Sundance or Toronto it doesn't mean its sub-par festival.
The festival guide makes it easy for you to find movies you might like. They have their Quick Picks based on what kind of movies you like and who you are going with. If you never been to a film fest before this is a great place to start. Last year instead of writing up a list of movie recommendations or what movies I plan on going to see (my tastes aren't for everyone) what I did was highlight things that make the Milwaukee Film Festival special. Not only are there great movies but it’s an excellent opportunity to experience different things. No matter what movies you like there are things at the festival everyone should take advantage of. And this list is only the film related things. There are plenty of other great events surrounding the festival like live music, special gatherings, panels, and parties.
Check out the list below.
By Christopher K House
Gags the clown took the country by storm. People were puzzled by this odd sight on the streets of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The nocturnal clown had people frightened to walk the streets after sundown. Parents kept their children in and shared clown sightings on social media. Mothers warned of clowns riding in unmarked white vans snatching kids up off the streets in broad daylight. Yes, Gags caused a national crisis and struck fear into the heart of America. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. Either way, Gags scared the heck out of us and he is coming to Milwaukee.
Gags is the title character in a short film and is just one of a great selection of films that will be featured at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Film Festival. Located at The Underground Collaborative in the bowels of the Grand Avenue Mall, the fest will host a number of the filmmakers for special Q&A's hosted by Milwaukee Movie Talk and the Twisted Dreams Film Festival founders Christopher House and Stephen Milek. The films were all hand picked by local author Tea Krulos (Monster Hunters) who is the coordinator of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. In it's second year the conference hosts experts in a variety of fields from crypto zoology to paranormal investigators. Who knows? Gags might even make an appearance....
Check out the press release:
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Film Festival Will Scare the Bleep Out of You
Riverwest Currents is a sponsor of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Film Festival, which concludes festival activities on Sunday, October 16 from 5-10pm. It is taking place at the Underground Collaborative, a performance space located in the basement level of the Plankinton Building in the Grand Ave. Mall. The screening session features documentaries and “based on true story” films related to ghosts, Bigfoot, creepy clowns, and more.
Here’s the fest line-up:
Gags (2016) Milwaukee premiere! In August, a grainy photo of a creepy clown lurking under a highway overpass with a fist full of black balloons went viral. News of a clown haunting Green Bay was picked up by new agencies around the world. It turned out to be a publicity stunt by a production company making a short horror film. Inspired by actual bizarre sightings of spooky clowns, Gags is not recommended to people afraid of clowns. The screening will be followed with a Q and A by director Adam Krause.
Beast of Whitehall: the Abair Road Incident (2016) Milwaukee premiere! This documentary, part of the Small Town Monsters doc series examines a strange encounter several people (including a police officer) had with a 7-foot hairy creature in the Adirondacks village of Whitehall, New York.
The Hidden Truth? (2012) Filmmakers Jay Bachochin, Scott Markus, Neil Sanders examine a string of drownings in the Mississippi River in the La Crosse area. They look at theories including coincidence, a potential serial killer, or a paranormal explanation. Followed by Q and A with the filmmakers.
A short doc session includes:
PIM: A Paranormal Documentary, which follows local investigation team Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee.
Award winning short The House is Innocent, about an eccentric couple who buys a house that used to belong to a notorious serial killer.
Pilgrimage to the Witch’s House, a rarely seen short that examines artist Mary Nohl’s home aka “the Fox Point Witch’s House,” directed by Joseph R. Skow.
The SuperNaturals, a short feature on a team of Real Life Superheroes that take on the challenge of investigating the paranormal.
An exclusive extended clip from Scary Stories: A Documentary, which explores the most controversial of modern children’s literature: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
UberDork Café will be there selling refreshments and the Underground Collaborative has a new bar. MKE Production Rental and Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Fest are supporting sponsors of the screenings. Tickets are just $6 and include access to all screenings. More info and tickets available at: milwaukeeparacon.com
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.
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.