SOME OF THE STAFF and I from Milwaukee Magazine went on a group outing to see “The Milwaukee Show I” Monday. The showcase was a grab bag of local shorts, varying from documentary to poetic to experimental films. And after each screening, we got to hear from the filmmakers about their visions, processes and overall thoughts about the films they created. It made for a fun evening and a perfect way to kick off my film fest experience. Of the nine we got to see, there were three that stood out to me as particularly exceptional (in order of showing):
DIRECTED BY SCOTT KRAHN AND ROBB FISCHER
The show opened with Friday Night Blind, a short documentary about a blind bowling league in Milwaukee. It focused in on the friendship between three women in the league, looking at their relationships to each other but also their own personalities and lives. I think it’s fair to say that no one who left The Milwaukee Show will forget the big personality of Judy (who goes by “Big Booty Judy”) and her endearingly terrible bowling skills. The film did a great job of raising awareness about this thing happening in Milwaukee while also being entertaining and, quite funny.
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DIRECTED BY CAROL BRANDT AND ERIKA SORENSON
Rip is a film about how falling in love mirrors the stages of grief. On the screen, there’s a photoshoot, where the model and stylist are clearly and quickly realizing they have feelings for each other. While there’s no dialogue – only a poetic voiceover about the similarities between love and grief – the actors show through fleeting glances and touches that there’s something sparking between them. It builds up in a crescendo, and ends with the titular rip. It was a beautiful depiction of the thrill of new love, both conceptually and aesthetically, and I can easily say it was my favorite of the night.
DIRECTED BY LORI FELKER
When Patient began, I was, admittedly, very confused. I wasn’t sure why we were seeing a patient talk to a doctor, and I didn’t know where it was going. However, it shortly became clear that the film is about standardized patients – the actors who pretend to be patients so med students can practice being doctors. The actors came in and the med students had to determine what was going on with them. In this film it was mostly focused on mental health-related conditions. It was also cool that all the actors in the film were standardized patients themselves (or administrators in a standardized patient program). And I loved how the film depicted this thing that the average person wouldn’t even know existed and did it in an interesting way with memorable characters.
“The Milwaukee Show I” is not playing again, but you can watch the shorts virtually if you have a Milwaukee Film Festival All Access pass. Catch “The Milwaukee Show II” on Tuesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre to see a whole new batch of short films with local connections.