A narrowed-down look at the most essential viewings for audiophiles during the expansive 15-day Milwaukee Film Festival.

Purple Rain [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuXK8ZbTmLk]

For those who know to show caution when asked to purify oneself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, there’s this darling companion piece to Prince’s groundbreaking pop album, 1984’s Purple Rain, coming to the Milwaukee Film Festival for one night only. The screening reinforces the enduring legacy of the gone-too-soon pop star.

Showtime: Friday, September 29 at Downer Theater, 6:15 p.m.

Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gLYYKVrqao]

This documentary shows the rise and fall (and recent reunion) of the ‘90s punk band Jawbreaker. Featuring interviews with the band members, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, rock critic Jessica Hopper, producer Steve Albini and more, the film shows how the group straddled the line between basement shows and big theaters for years as independent artists before cashing in on a major label deal that eventually tore them apart. Director Tim Irwin is set to appear at the Sunday, October 1 showing.


  • Sunday, October 1 at Avalon Theater, 10 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 4 at Times Cinema, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 10 at Oriental Theater, 9 p.m.

The Milwaukee Music Video Show

This annual showcase of local music videos illustrates the broad diversity and creativity running through the blood of the Milwaukee music scene. This year the collection of artists involved (many of whom are scheduled to appear at the screening) is perhaps the strongest yet, featuring videos from WebsterX, Ragani, Sat Nite Duets, Soul Low, The Fatty Acids, Uncle Larry, Hot Coffin, IshDARR, Jacob Banks, Jim White & Paul Fonfara, Joe Quinto & Miguel Diaz, The Kingdom of Mudnscum, The Listening Party, Marielle Allschwang, NO/NO and Direct Hit!

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Showtime: Monday, October 2 at Oriental Theater, 6:30 p.m.

A Life In Waves [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puLTePqBlQI]

From the team of director Brett Whitcomb and writer/editor Bradford Thomason (Glow: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) comes this documentary on an artist who brought strange, electronic music sounds to the masses. The film follows Suzanne Ciani through a life in which she gained monetary success by composing television commercial scores for brands like Coca-Cola, AT&T and General Electric and then would go on to become a multi-Grammy Award winner in New Age music.


  • Monday, October 2 at Avalon Theater, 9:15 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 5 at Downer Theater, 1:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 8 at Downer Theater, 3:45 p.m.

Stop Making Sense[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP28o7BLj_8]

This is perhaps the most essential screening at the Milwaukee Music Festival. Even though the Jonathan Demme-directed music film on The Talking Heads returns each year, the experience still resembles seeing the movie for the first time. Plus, it’s the one film on the schedule where it’s okay to stand up and dance a little.

Showtime: Saturday, October 7 at Oriental Theater, 10 p.m.