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Can’t decide what to see at the festival this year? Add these five flicks to your list.

September might be my favorite month of the year. Partly because I love sweater weather, but also because the city’s cultural engine is firing on all cylinders – the MSO, Present Music, the Rep, Skylight and Wild Space all fire up their 2017-18 seasons this month. And, on September 28, Milwaukee Film transforms the city into the site of the country’s fifth-largest film festival.

Milwaukee Film Festival 2017

Official Milwaukee Film Festival campaign art by Kate Malone

Here are the five films I’m most excited to see this year:

AlphaGo

Category: Spotlight Presentations
Directed by Greg Kohs
2017, 90 minutes

What does an ancient Chinese board game have to do with cutting-edge artificial intelligence? More than you might think. This gripping documentary about Go champion Lee Sedol and Google’s DeepMind AI team earned rave reviews when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

The Blood Is at the Doorstep

Category: Spotlight Presentations
Directed by Erik Ljung
2017, 95 minutes

When Dontre Hamilton was gunned down by a Milwaukee police officer in 2014, his family members were left to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. This riveting documentary, equal parts harrowing and hopeful, tells their story and is a must-see for anyone living in this community.

Dear Coward on the Moon

Category: Spotlight Presentations
Directed by Carol Brandt
2017, 80 minutes

Filmed largely in Viroqua, Wisconsin, this virtuosic character study chronicles the lives of two sisters. When one runs away from home, the other must confront a figure from their past. Brandt, still in her twenties, is already among the city’s most promising artistic talent.

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Pecking Order

Category: Documentary Festival Favorites
Directed by Slavko Martinov
2017, 88 minutes

Sometimes you need a break from the doom and gloom dominating our airwaves. Rest up with Pecking Order, a quirky docu-comedy centering on the members of New Zealand’s Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club that “plays like a Christopher Guest film come to life,” according to its description on the festival’s website.

Tampopo

Category: Film Feast
Directed by Jûzô Itami
1985, 114 minutes

This parody of Western cinema by Japanese auteur Jûzô Itami is deliciously weird – from the characters’ madcap quest for the perfect ramen recipe to the food-based foreplay that dominates the final scene. You’ll probably want to leave your kids, or immature friends, at home.

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