“Youth” Will Be Served At Milwaukee Film Festival Opening Night

Booking the Michael Caine film “is a coup for us” says fest director.

The trickle of titles from the Milwaukee Film Festival became a deluge Thursday with the release of the Opening and Closing Night films, the Centerpiece film and films in the Documentary and Worldview programs.

The Opening Night film is Youth by Paolo Sorrentino, director of Oscar winning foreign language film The Great Beauty.

The booking “is a coup for us,” said festival artistic and executive director Jonathan Jackson noting that it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Michael Caine is an aging composer and Harvey Keitel is an aging director, both confronting the meaning of life at a spa in the Alps, a theme similar to The Great Beauty.

The Closing Night film is Raiders! a documentary about teenagers who set out to make a shot for shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark and return as grown men to complete it.

“It’s laugh out loud funny and very general audience friendly,” said Jackson.

The Centerpiece film is the documentary Peace Officer about the founder of Utah’s first SWAT team whose own son-in-law died at the group’s hands.

“It’s a commentary on the militarization of the police force and the distance between the police and the citizens they’re supposed to protect,” said Jackson.

Also revealed were titles of the twenty films in each of the Documentary and Worldview programs. (See below.) For a festival known for challenging films this is where many jewels are found. These programs are  also a reminder of how much cinema – locally, nationally and globally – being made would not be seen in Milwaukee if not for the festival. Hence the festival’s slogan “See What You’d Miss.”

Physical copies of the program guide will be available Saturday at Cathedral Square Park. The guide, which will also appear on the festival’s website Sunday, includes descriptions, locations and times of films so festival-goers can plan their schedule. Tickets go on sale Sept. 9 for members and Sept. 10 for the public.

The redesigned guide is color coded to help people navigate the hundreds of titles and different programs.

And instead of listing films by genre it includes user-friendly “quick picks” to identify films by interest, as in “Do you like to be inspired,” “Do you like to laugh,” “Do you like thrillers,” “Do you like cult films?”

Some will be tempted to say “yes” to all those questions. The festival will screen 303 films – 118 features and 185 shorts – 27 more than last year. Difficulty in choosing films to see is the top complaint the festival receives and “this is one of the big tactics we are using to help people pick movies,” said Jackson.

He said the festival’s own selection process includes monitoring other festivals for films “that pique our interest or have a resonance to Milwaukee.”

Toward that end it has a non cash relationship with 300 partners who present and promote films to their community or patrons.

Already announced are films are in the Spotlight, Passport: Sweden, Rated R: For Kids, Black Lens, Cream City, Sound Vision, Art + Artists, Cinema Hooligante, Shorter Is Better, Competition and Film Feast programs.

The remaining films include a “stateless” film from Palestine, two each from Cuba, India and South Korea, plus works from Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The final films are:


–The Armor of Light (USA/Abigail E. Disney) An evangelical minister applies his pro-life stance to an anti-gun campaign.

–Dreamcatcher (United Kingdom/Kim Longinotto) Former prostitute provides support to women on the street.

–Finder’s Keepers (USA/Bryan Carberry, Clay Tweel) Absurdist tale about the court battle over a severed leg.

–Havana Motor Club (USA, Cuba/ Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt) About Cuba’s underground auto racing culture.

–He Named me Malala (USA/Davis Guggenheim) Portrait of the fight for girl’s education waged by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malal Yousafazi.

–Hip Hop-eration (New Zealand/Bryn Evans) About an elderly dance group.

–How To dance In Ohio (USA/Alexandra Shiva) Developmentally challenged kids fight to hold a school dance.

–Landfill Harmonic (USA, Paraguay, Brazil/Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley) Uplifting tale about an orchestra of impoverished youths who make music using instruments made of garbage.

–The Look of Silence (Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Norway, United Kingdom/Joshua Oppenheimer) Sequel to The Act of Killing about the Indonesian genocide.

–Mala Mala (Puerto Rico/Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles) About Puerto Rico’s transgender community.

–My Love, Don’t Cross That River (South Korea/Moyoung Jin) Top grossing independent film of all time in South Korea about the final years of an aged couple.

–Paper Tigers (USA/James Redford) Follows students at an alternative high school in a troubled neighborhood.

–Radical Grace (USA/Rebecca Parrish) Radical nuns battle the church while fighting for social justice.

–Romeo Is Bleeding (USA/Jason Zeldes) Spoken word artists in a gang infested neighborhood channel their anger through Shakespeare.

-Sex(Ed): The Movie (USA/Brenda Goodman) Looks at changing social mores through sometimes comic classroom sex education videos.

–T-Rex (USA/Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper) Story of Clarissa Shields, Olympic boxer.

–Transfatty Lives (USA/Patrick O’Brien) After receiving a diagnosis of ALS a performance artist continues his work even as his body fails him.

–Unbranded (USA/Philip Baribeau) Four men drive a herd of horses from Mexico to Canada.

–We Come As Friends (France, Austria/Hubert Sauger) Journey through the chaos of modern African, by director of Darwin’s Nightmare.

— Welcome to Leith (USA/Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker) White supremacists try and take over government in a small town.


–Amour Fou (Austria, Luxembourg, Germany/Jessica Hausner) Artful tale of love and death as Romantic era poet seeks someone to share a suicide pact.

–Behavior (Cuba, Ernesto Daranas) Drama about a teacher’s relationship with a troubled student being sent to re-education school.

–The Club (Chile, Pablo Larrain) The routine of four exiled priests is upset when they are joined by a fifth.

–Court (India, Chaitanya Tamhane) Class politics are on display in this courtoom drama about an activist entertainer accused of inciting a suicide.

–Dearest (China/Hong Kong/Peter Ho-Sun Chan) About 70,000 children are abducted in China annually. This fact based drama is about one of them.

–Difret (Ethiopia/Zeresenay Berhane Mehari) A potential child bride who kills her suitor is put on trial. Presented by Angelina Jolie.

–Excuse My French (Egypt/Amr Salama) A Christian boy is sent to a public school where he poses as Muslim to fit in.

–The Farewell Party (Israel, Germany/ Tal Granit, Sharon Maymon) Black comedy about elderly friends who devise a self-euthanizing device.

–Gueros (Mexico/Alonso Ruizpalacios) Black and white slacker comedy sends three friends on a trip through Mexico city to meet a rock idol.

–A Hard Day (South Korea/Kim Seong-Hun) A detective’s day begins with his mother’s funeral and goes downhill from there in suspense thriller.

–The Kindergarten Teacher (Israel/France/Nadav Lapid) An teacher crosses the line when she becomes obsessed with a talented student.

–Margarita With A Straw (India/Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar) A student with cerebral palsy trades New Dehli for New York in search of the traditional college experience.

–One For the Road (Mexico/Jack Zagha Kababie) Three octogenarians go on a road trip to fulfill their friend’s final wishes.

–Run Boy Run (Germany, France/Pepe Danquart) Holocaust drama, based on a best seller and directed by an Oscar winner, about a Polish boy trying to survive the Nazi occupation.

–The Second Mother (Brazil/Anna Muylaert) A housekeeper must decide where he loyalties lie, with her employer or with her own family.

–Theeb (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, United Kingdom/Naj Abu Nowar) Epic adventure tale of young Beduoin who stows away as his brother escorts a British soldier across the desert.

–Viktoria (Romania, Bulgaria/Maya Vitkova) Absurdist tale about a girl without a belly button who becomes a cause celebre for the Communist party.

–Villa Touma (Palestine/Suha Arraf) Girl is groomed for marriage by three aunts living in the past. By the co-writer of “The Syrian Bride” and “Lemon Tree.”

–The Wonders (Italy Switzerland, Germany/Alice Rohrwacher) Fellini-esque coming-of-age tale about a family of bee-keepers selected for a reality show.

–Zouzou (France/Blandine Lenoir) French comedy about the sex lives of a family of women, including the 14-year old girl of the title.

The Milwaukee Film Festival, presented by the Milwaukee Sentinel, runs Sept. 24 through Oct. 8.

The Documentary program is presented by Jim McNulty and Christine Symchych and sponsored by the Shepherd Express. The Worldview program is presented by Marianne and Sheldon Lubar and sponsored by Lowlands Grand Cafes.

Films will be shown at the Landmark Oriental Theater, 2230 N. Farwell Ave; Landmark Downer Theater, 2589 N. Downer Ave; Avalon Theater, 2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.; Times Cinema, 5906 W. Vliet St.; and Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, 334 E. Silver Spring.

Tickets can be purchase at mkefilm.org, by calling 414-727-8468 or in person at the Oriental Theater box office prior to the festival and at individual box offices starting Sept. 25.

Tickets are $12 for adults $11 for seniors and students, $10 for members and $6 for children under 12.

The Opening Night party and public forums will be at Kenilworth Square East, 1915 E. Kenilworth Pl.



Duane Dudek is a Milwaukee native. For more than 30 years, he was film critic and television columnist at the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He continues to apply his expertise at DuaneDudek.com.