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Director Stanley Nelson outside a screening of "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," a Black Lens selection at last year's film festival.
Director Stanley Nelson outside a screening of "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," a Black Lens selection at last year's film festival. (Photo: Jennifer Johnson/Milwaukee Film)

Milwaukee Film's Black Lens program receives AMPAS grant

The Milwaukee Film Festival may still be months away, but that doesn't mean awesome things aren't happening at Milwaukee Film. Take, for instance, yesterday, when news broke that the organization was chosen to be one of just 16 recipients of a FilmWatch grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). 

The $10,000 grant – supporting curated screening sections at North America-based film festivals, film societies and other film-related organizations – was given to Milwaukee Film particularly in support of Black Lens, a program established in 2014 with the mission of bringing overdue attention to contemporary African American filmmakers, stories and issues.

"Milwaukee Film receiving financial support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is an incredible honor," said Milwaukee Film artistic and executive director Jonathan Jackson in a press release. "It is particularly meaningful that the support is directed toward our burgeoning Black Lens Program, which is a vital and rare showcase dedicated to exclusively presenting the work of African American directors."

In just two years of existence, Black Lens has already begun to make an impression, drawing an audience of 3,288 at last year's festival – a 96 percent increase on the previous year – with an estimated 28 percent of those attendees African American. It's a good step forward for the festival's goal of creating important dialogues and gathering diverse audiences.

As Milwaukee and Hollywood both know, however, there's still plenty of work to be done. Milwaukee is infamously ranked as one of the most segregated cities in the country, while diversity woes inside AMPAS and the industry in general grabbed the spotlight on the industry's biggest, brightest night this year: the Oscars (for the second straight ceremony, actually, if you include the original #OscarsSoWhite controversy around the snubbing of "Selma" and lack of diverse nominees last year).

And deservedly so. …

"Purple Rain" will be showing at both the Times Cinema and two Marcus theaters this week.
"Purple Rain" will be showing at both the Times Cinema and two Marcus theaters this week.

3 ways to pay tribute to Prince this week, in song and on screen

Prince's shocking and sudden death last week was a globally felt punch to the gut. But after a weekend to heal, to remember and to soak in the sweet, sexy sounds of Prince ... we still haven't been able to move on one bit. We're still all broken up about it. We're mourning him when we should've had at least another 20 years of Prince. 

Thankfully, several Milwaukee venues are offering opportunities to continue the Prince mourning process this week and take in the glory that was The High Priest of Pop, both on the screen and on the dance floor. 

1. "Purple Rain" on the big screen

The apex of Prince's reign on top of the pop cultural world, director Albert Magoli's "Purple Rain" – featuring the pop icon as a small-town rising star fighting personal woes and kindling romances – is like mainlining His Royal Badness, his music and aura in all of its peak '80s wonder. So what better way to pay once's respects?

The Times Cinema will screen the 1984 music movie classic on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 p.m. However, if you can't make it out to the Times for a late show this week, two local Marcus Theatres – the Marcus Menomonee Falls and the Marcus South Shore – will also be showing "Purple Rain" nightly this week through Thursday, and for just $5. The times vary each night at the two locations, so check Marcus Theaters' website to confirm when the movie shows before you go.

2. "When Doves Cry" at Mad Planet 

You'd hope Milwaukee's best dance club would have an event planed to pay its respects to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince – and indeed it does. Mad Planet, located at 533 E. Center St., will transform its usual weekly Friday Retro Night Dance Party into "When Doves Cry: A Tribute to Prince" on Thursday, April 28. Starting at 9 p.m., host DJs Frank Straka and Kid Millions will be spinning Prince's music through the entire night. Put on your finest purple garb, bring $5 for the cover charge and prepare to party like it's 1999. 

3. "Purp…

Prince died early this afternoon. He was 57.
Prince died early this afternoon. He was 57. (Photo: WikiCommons/penner)

Remembering Prince

David Bowie. Merle Haggard. George Martin. Phife. Glenn Frey – 2016 has been exceptionally cruel and brutal in taking away some of our most universally beloved musicians and cultural icons.

This morning, it unfortunately added to its list: After rumors of health problems – and a death scare just days before – Prince died in his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota. TMZ first reported the news; the AP shortly after confirmed it. He was just 57 years old. No official cause of death has been reported. 

Prince wasn't just a brilliant musician and performer in the worlds of funk/rock/pop/genres of his own making – he was certainly those things, and his mythical, genius music was always leading, rarely following. He was a true individual, unencumbered by expectations or restrictions. He was utterly, completely himself and, as a result, became an inspiration for millions of others to be weird, to be sensual, to be undefinable, to be themselves. Like Bowie, being strange had a sensual swagger with Prince. For so many, he made it cool to be different.

So, so cool.

An image stuck in my head – outside of his incredible career as an artist, on stages and on screen, obviously – is "West Wing" actress Allison Janney freaking out at the 2015 Golden Globes seeing Prince take the stage. The man was so cool, so himself, that he was a celebrity to even celebrities, the brightest star in rooms filled with stars. 

And that's not even including his actual performances. The man didn't take the stage or screen; he possessed it and every eyeball and eardrum within distance. He was a force of nature – so much that, when performing with a literal force of nature at the Super Bowl, he was utterly unfazed. 

So, in honor of Prince – and to do something other than cry or stare off into th…

The St. Louis Cardinals deserve to be brought down to Earth ... and Deadspin is helping to do it.
The St. Louis Cardinals deserve to be brought down to Earth ... and Deadspin is helping to do it.

Enjoy Deadspin deservedly trolling the crap out of the St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals and their fans are the worst. This isn't an opinion; this is cold hard fact – an impressive one considering the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs all exist as well. But no, it's the Cardinals that claim the dishonor of baseball's most noxious organization. 

Is it because of their self-imposed claim as the Best Fans in Baseball and their moralizing preaching about the hallowed "Cardinal way"? Is it because they, despite all of those claims, are not above stealing their way onto another team's computers and possibly calling former Cardinal Jason Heyward the N-word in his return to St. Louis?

Is it because their success is fawned upon by creaky old baseball writers with some greater glorious meaning about America? Is it because Tony LaRussa – just, Tony LaRussa, full stop? Is it because of a personal irrational hatred that whenever the Brewers have had success – whether it be 1982 or 2011 – the Cardinals have been the ones to pummel us back into our place?

Yes. Yes to all of the above.

And worst of all, they win, so unlike the Cubs, they have actual on-field success to back their smug self-righteousness and force your deeply begrudging respect. You monsters. You are the Duke basketball of baseball. Watching you lose is the greatest pleasure I will achieve in life (sorry, future birth of my children).

So obviously, nothing has been more satisfyingly schadenfraude-tastic this short season than watching the fellow haters at Deadspin troll the bejesus out of the Cardinals.

When the Cardinals lost on Opening Day, Deadspin wrote up a brief mocking piece about their strikeout-filled defeat. The key point: 

The Major League Baseball campaign is underway and it started off gloriously. Not only did the St. Louis Cardinals lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1, but they struck out 14 times, like a bunch of jamokes.

And then they wrote one about the Cardinals' second loss. And third. And fourth (courtesy of the Brewers!). And so on and so on and yo…