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A newbie’s intro to the biggest cinematic event of the year

We hereby present thee a crash course in the 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival (Sept. 22-Oct. 6), courtesy of the festival’s artistic and executive director Jonathan Jackson.

A premier, please.

“[The Milwaukee Film Festival is] what we would call a ‘best of’ film festival, meaning we’re not necessarily striving to be the first to show a given film. We are striving to curate a selection of the best possible movies from the past year,” Jackson says.

What do you mean by “biggest” cinematic event of the year?

Despite our being the 23th-largest media market in a survey of regional fi lm fests, the 2015 MFF was the fifth-largest for attendance, length and number of films shown; sixth in contributed revenue; and ninth in earned income. Biggest in MKE, for sure.

Give us your best argument for turning off Netflix for two weeks.

“A lot of festivals have great programming, but not all have large and super appreciative audiences. That is one of the dynamic pieces: the excitement of the communal viewing experience. … It’s so refreshing to go to the movie theater with huge audiences, and to have the filmmaker there,” Jackson says. Many films are accompanied by talks.

What about cinema classics?

Yes. Every festival includes a smattering of classics that relate to a theme, or are tied to Milwaukee or current events. Anniversaries of major motion pictures are also recognized, which explains this year’s inclusion of Blue Velvet and Beauty and the Beast.

What’s this year’s showpiece?

“Because of [Milwaukee Art Museum’s upcoming German silent film exhibition ‘Haunted Screens’], we’re going to screen Metropolis, the great silent classic by Fritz Lang that many consider to be the best film ever made, with live musical accompaniment from Alloy Orchestra, a U.K. trio that creates original soundtracks for silent movies. [It’s] a rare and special occasion.”

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Planning your trip: The festival is held at five different locations simultaneously: the Oriental Theatre, the Downer Theatre, Fox Bay Cinema Grill, Times Cinema and the Avalon Theater. Tickets are $12 per adult for each film. Students, seniors, Milwaukee Film members and children 12 and under all receive discounts. There’s also a $500 all-access pass that guarantees admission to every screening. On the web: mkefilm.org.


Must-See List

Sonita (2015, Germany) – The true story of young Afghan refugee pursuing a career as a rap artist while resisting her family’s attempts to force her into an arranged marriage.

Sonita (2015, Germany) – The true story of young Afghan refugee pursuing a career as a rap artist while resisting her family’s attempts to force her into an arranged marriage.

Home Care (2015, Czech Republic) - A home health care worker must reassess her assumptions about life after she’s forced out of her comfort zone.

Home Care (2015, Czech Republic) – A home health care worker must reassess her assumptions about life after she’s forced out of her comfort zone. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Film Festival.

The Fits (2015, United States) – Eleven-year-old tomboy Toni joins a dance troupe only to witness her fellow performers suffer from strange fainting spells and spasms in this psychological thriller.

Men & Chicken (2015, Denmark) – In this dark comedy, two adopted half-brothers search for their real father.

Men & Chicken (2015, Denmark) – In this dark comedy, two adopted half-brothers search for their real father. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Film Festival.

In Pursuit of Silence (2015, United States) – An “alarming and rewarding” documentary about a man sworn to silence while traveling the country.

Mom and Me (2015, Ireland) – Irish filmmakers conducted this tender study of the love between Oklahoma mothers and sons. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Film Festival.

Mom and Me (2015, Ireland) – Irish filmmakers conducted this tender study of the love between Oklahoma mothers and sons. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Film Festival.

 

“Film Fest Guide” appears in the September issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the September issue on newsstands beginning August 29, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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