Fade In: Milwaukee Film Fest!

Tags: jay, film, milwuakee

When I first moved to town, my main complaint was the lack of screenings and resources for cinephiles. It wasn't until I started dating the Education Director of the Milwaukee Film Fest that I found out we actually have one of the bigger annual film festivals in the country, right down the street.

It opened yesterday with a huge party at Discovery world, and runs through October 11th. They have a bunch of great stuff showing which you can check out on mkefilm.org, but there's a few things I'm definitely hitting up in this year's program.

J. Hoberman has a new book out and is giving the keynote address for the festival. Even more exciting for me, though, he has chosen to screen David Lynch's Inland Empire (9/30,4PM) and Chris Marker's San Soleil (9/29,4:45PM). Both films rank among my favorites, but I've never seen them on the big screen, and it's especially poignant to see Marker's film since he just died in July.

Mark Borchardt from American Movie is presenting the Giant Spider Invasion (10/6,9:30PM), a Wisconsin-made B monster flick, and he'll be talking to the director on stage after the film. This is the kind of thing you will only ever see in Milwaukee.

In that same vein, the Milwaukee Show (10/4,7PM) shows films from local filmmakers. This town always supports its own, and this show always sells out the big room at the Oriental and is a great time. This year, among others, they're showing Studies in Space by Tate Bunker, which was a successful Kickstarter I supported, and The Vampire Formerly Known As Dracula, this year's film made by Collaborative Cinema. A program run by the formerly-mentioned Education Director of Milwaukee Film, Collaborative Cinema is an amazing and unheard-of opportunity, where every year they workshop screenwriting with high school students, choose one of their scripts and get real film professionals and film students together to make it as a big budget film. This year, I got a chance to do the credit and title sequences, and the director let me do them in the style of Hammer vampire films, so I was stoked.

The Jeffery Dahmer Files is locally-made documentary that I've already seen at SXSW. Not something I'm usually interested in, but the interview subjects are incredibly compelling and some of them will be at the screening (10/7,3PM) for a panel afterwards. The movie's been picked up by IFC, and it's still a really resonant subject for the city, so it should be another very unique Milwaukee event.

Other films I'm excited about are Klown, from what I hear one of the funniest, most vulgar comedies of the year, Little Red, another local feature having its debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow, a rad cult film if you can imagine David Cronenberg making a Daft Punk video, Compliance, one of the most talked about indie films this year, and We Are Legion, a documentary about Anonymous, the internet activists. I should also mention the Milwaukee Children's Film Festival, which runs along with the grown-up version and shows great kids films from around the world.

This year, though, the thing I might be most looking forward to isn't a film at all, but a panel discussion (10/6, 7PM) with the guys from Red Letter Media, famous for their Phantom Menace review and more recently, the funny and spot-on Prometheus video that went viral. My now-twice-formerly-mentioned Education Director / girlfriend and I started becoming fans of their mix of comedy, film criticism and online filmmaking and one day we noticed the alley they were shooting in looked a lot like the one down our street. It turned out they were from Milwaukee and we never had any idea!

It's amazing that in such a small market, people who are huge fans, supporters, educators and practitioners of a fairly narrow field like film could pass in the night unaware of the great things being done all around them. Maybe this city's bigger than we think?

2012 MKE FILM FESTIVAL POSTER, DESIGNED BY CATHERINE BRAUTIGAM