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With more than 300 feature-length and short films to choose from, picking what to see at the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival can be a tall order.
We’re here to help. Here’s a guide to stuff you should be sure to catch at this year’s festival, sorted by what drives you to the movies.
Tickets for screenings at the festival are $12; $11 for seniors 60 and older, students with ID and members of the military with ID; $10 for Milwaukee Film members; and $6 for kids 12 and under. (Prices are different for premium screenings, noted when included below.)
Tickets are available at mkefilm.org and at the festival’s theaters: the Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave.; Avalon Theater, 2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.; Times Cinema, 5906 W. Vliet St.; Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, 334 E. Silver Spring Drive, Whitefish Bay; and Jan Serr Studio Cinema, 1915 E. Kenilworth Place.
If you want a head start on your Oscars pool
This year’s festival has several movies that are their countries’ official entries for this year’s Academy Award for best foreign-language film, including:
“Cold War”: Pawel Pawlikowski’s previous movie ”Ida” took home the Oscar in the category in 2015. This award-winning drama, a romance set in postwar Poland, took home top director honors at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is a favorite to repeat come Oscar time.
Oct. 28, 1 p.m., Oriental (premium screening; tickets $17, $15 for Milwaukee Film members)
“Shoplifters”: Speaking of Cannes, this drama about a family of thieves whose world is altered when they take in an abandoned child won that festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, for acclaimed Japanese director (and Milwaukee Film Festival alum) Hirokazu Kore-eda.
Oct. 28, 4 p.m., Oriental; Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Avalon
“I Am Not a Witch”: The UK’s official foreign-language entry — in languages including Nyanja, from central Africa — centers on a young woman who’s sent to a state-run witch camp.
Oct. 22, 3:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m., Fox-Bay; Oct. 31, 3 p.m., Avalon
“Birds of Passage”: A Colombian family is redefined, for good and ill, by the country’s exploding drug trade in the 1970s.
Oct. 19, 3:30 p.m., Avalon; Oct. 22, 8:30 p.m., Times; Oct. 26, 1 p.m., Fox-Bay
“The Guilty”: A Danish thriller about a police officer who, demoted to working as an emergency operator, gets a call from a kidnapped woman trapped in the back of a moving car.
Oct. 23, 4 p.m., Fox-Bay; Oct. 25, 6 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 28, 7 p.m., Jan Serr
“The Cakemaker”: Israel’s official entry centers on a German pastry chef who, after his lover is killed in an accident, travels to Jerusalem to find his wife and son.
Oct. 21, 1:15 p.m., Fox-Bay; Oct. 23, noon, Times; Oct. 31, 3:15 p.m., Oriental
If you want to catch up with indies that didn’t make to Milwaukee screens
“Damsel”: An offbeat Western starring Robert Pattinson as a man with a miniature horse and a maximum obsession with reconnecting with the love of his life (Mia Wasikowska), who has other ideas.
Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 23, 3 p.m., Times; Oct. 25, 12:30 p.m., Oriental
“Minding the Gap”: Documentary filmmaker Bing Liu returns to his hometown of Rockford, Ill., to reconnect with all his old skateboarding buddies and find out how much, and how little, has changed.
Oct. 25, 6:45 p.m., Times; Oct. 26,12:30 p.m., Oriental; Nov. 1, noon, Oriental
“Support the Girls”: Regina Hall got raves this summer as the manager of a Hooters-y sports bar, trying to make it through one crazy day in a comedy from reformed mumblecore director Andrew Bujalski.
Oct.22, 7 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 25, 1 p.m., Times; Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m., Times
“Borg vs. McEnroe”: Shia LaBoeuf channels John McEnroe taking on Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) in that epic 1980 match in this sports drama.
Oct. 22, 4:15 p.m., Oriental; Oct.28, 6:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 30, 9:30 p.m., Avalon
If you like your movies with star wattage
“Love, Gilda”: An engaging valentine to comedian Gilda Radner, built from interviews with her and some of Radner’s writings read by some of the performers (including Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph) whose career she influenced.
Oct. 25, 7:15 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 27, 9:15 p.m., Fox-Bay; Nov. 1, 6:45 p.m., Jan Serr
“Everybody Knows”: Two-time Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation,” “The Salesman”) goes big in this Spanish-language thriller about a woman (Penélope Cruz) who, when her teenage daughter is kidnapped, turns to her former lover (Javier Bardem) for help.
Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m., Oriental (premium screening; tickets $17, $15 for Milwaukee Film members)
“Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me”: Sam Pollard’s documentary captures the never-ending contradictions in the life and art of one of America’s premier entertainers.
Oct. 21, 3:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 30, 6 p.m., Oriental
“Wild Nights With Emily”: Molly Shannon plays American poet Emily Dickinson in this comedy, focusing on Dickinson finding love with her sister-in-law (Susan Ziegler).
Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., Oriental (festival centerpiece film; tickets $17, $15 for Milwaukee Film members)
“Little Woods”: Tessa Thompson and Lily James play sisters struggling to get out of the cycle of poverty in their North Dakota hometown.
Oct.22, 4:15 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 24, 8:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Times
If you like your movies with a beat you can groove to
“Bad Reputation”: Uber-influential rocker Joan Jett is the focus of this no-prisoners documentary made from interviews and archival footage.
Oct. 25, 6 p.m., Jan Serr; Oct. 28, 9:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 31, 3:45 p.m., Times
“A Page of Madness”: The Alloy Orchestra’s annual appearance at the festival accompanies something completely different — a 1926 silent Japanese horror movie set in an insane asylum. Alloy’s inventive instrumentation will surely be put to the test.
Oct. 20, 4 p.m., Oriental (premium screening; tickets $17, $15 for Milwaukee Film members)
“Here to be Heard: The Slits”: The life, times and obstacles facing the groundbreaking all-female punk band, who tore it up for more than three decades, get their due in this you-need-to-know-this-group documentary.
Oct. 21, 9:30 p.m., Times; Oct. 26, 7 p.m. Oriental
“How They Got Over”: This documentary chronicles the African-American gospel quartets that performed in the South in the 1930s and ’40s, laying the foundation for rock ‘n’ roll.
Oct. 24, 12:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 28, 3:30 p.m., Times; Oct. 31, 1:15 p.m., Oriental
“Mr. SOUL!”: “SOUL!” was a public television variety show in the late 1960s and ’70s that showcased African-American arts and culture. This documentary brings a welcome look back at this neglected groundbreaking classic series.
Oct. 25, 4 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 28, 9 p.m., Avalon; Oct. 31, 6 p.m. Jan Serr
“The Milwaukee Music Video Show”: Catch videos by some of Milwaukee’s best and brightest music performers, captured by some of Milwaukee’s best and brightest filmmakers.
Oct. 30, 9:30 p.m., Oriental
If you need inspiration to fly our Milwaukee flag
“Science Fair”: The Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary, co-directed by Milwaukee native Cristina Costantini, finally comes home, focusing on nine high school students competing for top honors at a major international science fair.
Oct. 18, 7 p.m. Oriental (opening-night film; tickets $25, $20 for Milwaukee Film members); also showing Oct. 21, 11 a.m., Oriental
“Pet Names”: Wisconsin filmmaker (and film festival alum) Carol Brandt’s drama follows a woman as she spends a weekend respite in the woods in Wisconsin, with an ex-boyfriend (and his dog) in tow.
Oct. 21, 2 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 29, 4 p.m., Jan Serr
“Back at the Staircase”: A family celebration becomes a vigil when the matriarch is hurt and winds up in a coma, a situation that ratchets up the tension for all concerned, forcing uneasy truths to surface. Directed by Milwaukee-based filmmaker Drew Britton.
Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., Oriental (closing-night film; tickets $17, $15 for Milwaukee Film members)
“The First Patient”: Veteran Milwaukee filmmaker Chip Duncan follows a first-year medical school class as they work with their title subject — a human cadaver.
Oct. 20, 7 p.m., Oriental
“Yen Ching”: Yinan Wang’s feature-film debut follows the dynamics of the long-running Chinese restaurant on Milwaukee’s northwest side as a new generation is confronted by taking on the family business.
Oct. 19, noon, Oriental; Oct. 21, 4:15 p.m., Fox-Bay; Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m., Oriental
“Riverwest Film & Video”: A hug of a documentary celebrating the Milwaukee neighborhood video store that doubles as a center for conversation, community and cinema.
Oct. 19, 4 p.m., Times; Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 31, 4 p.m., Oriental
“Lake Michigan Monster”: This black-and-white comedy follows a captain and his crew as they pursue the title beast. What else is there to know?
Oct. 24, 3:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 29, 9 p.m., Jan Serr; Oct. 31, 9:45 p.m., Oriental
“The Milwaukee Show I” and “The Milwaukee Show II”: These locally flavored shorts programs are routinely the hottest ticket at the film festival; find out why.
“Show I” — Oct. 22, 8 p.m., Oriental; “Show II” — Oct. 29, 7 p.m., Oriental
If you like your reality straight up with a twist
“Bisbee ’17”: One hundred years after nearly 2,000 striking immigrant workers were rounded up and left to die in the Arizona desert, their descendants re-enact the event, captured in this documentary.
Oct. 19, 12:30 p.m., Jan Serr; Oct. 21, 6:15 p.m., Jan Serr; Oct. 23, 4 p.m. Oriental
“The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution”: The stories of seven female chefs open a window into what it takes to live and succeed in the male-dominated restaurant industry in this documentary.
Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 28, 1 p.m., Fox-Bay; Oct. 30, 3:15 p.m., Oriental
“Warrior Women”: Lakota activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, who’s been on the front line of activism from the rise of the American Indian Movement in the late 1960s to the recent Standing Rock pipeline protests, passes along her passion to her daughter Marcy in this documentary.
Oct. 21, 7:15 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 22, 8:30 p.m., Jan Serr; Oct. 24, 1 p.m., Oriental
“16 Bars”: Todd “Speech” Thomas, Milwaukee native and member of the hip-hop collective Arrested Development, works in a prison rehabilitation program teaching inmates how to write and record their own songs, in this film about self-expression and prison reform.
Oct. 20, 9:30 p.m., Oriental; Oct. 21, 1 p.m., Times; Oct. 24, 10 p.m., Oriental
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”: This documentary paints a lyrical, stereotype-bursting portrait of life in a predominantly working-class, African-American county in rural Alabama.
Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m., Times; Oct. 23, 9:30 p.m., Jan Serr; Oct. 31, 4 p.m., Oriental
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