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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

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Readers Blog: Schmoo On The Movies

6 Films to See at the Milwaukee Film Fest

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Labor Day weekend marked the release of the Milwaukee Film Festival's Program Guide. The annual fest begins Sept. 22 and is set to feature more than 100 films from the Milwaukee area and around the world. Over 11 days, these films will play at four area theatres - The Downer and Oriental on Milwaukee's east side, Ridge Cinema in New Berlin and North Shore Cinema in Mequon.

Over the summer, I had the great honor of serving on Milwaukee Film's Program Committee. We met twice weekly and screened over 50 films, which we judged in hopes of narrowing the festival's selections.

Not every film we watched was great, but some of them were. Especially strong this year is the crop of entertaining and powerful documentaries.

Here are my favorites, which I strongly recommend:

Give Up Tomorrow - USA, United Kingdom/2011/95 min

This Audience Award winner from the Tribeca Film Festival follows the tumultuous story of Paco Larrañaga, who, at the age of 19, was charged with committing a heinous crime on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. However, all evidence points to him being on an entirely different island on the night in question.

As more of the story unfolds, national corruption, frenzied media headhunters, political maneuvering and laziness are exposed as culprits in this grave injustice which still continues today. This powerful film might be one of the most upsetting documentaries I've ever seen, but it's also one of the best.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 4:30 p.m. - Ridge Cinema                        

Sunday, Sept. 25, 7:00 p.m. – Oriental Theatre                          

Friday, Sept 30, 4:45 p.m. – North Shore Cinema

Marathon Boy - India, UK, USA/2010/98 min

Budia Singh's coaches are hopeful he'll make the Olympics in 2016. Why the long wait? Because, at the beginning of this documentary, he's not quite 4 years old. From this early age, he's doing something that many adults are incapable of - running marathons.

Watching this young man complete these unbelievable feats will leave you in awe, but the film also brings to the surface questions about child exploitation and physical limitations, which erupt into a bitter political struggle. Marathon Boy is amazing for the way it makes you consider your own feelings on the matter without leading you in one direction or another. 

Saturday, Sept. 24, 5:00 p.m. - North Shore Cinema                  

Friday, Sept. 30, 4:30 p.m. - Downer Theatre

Becoming Santa - USA, Canada/2010/93 min

This film is a crowd-pleaser of epic proportions. Writer, Jack Sanderson, decides to insert himself into the peculiar world of department-store Santas. Being already portly and bearded, it seems like a natural fit and although he jokes a great deal along the way, Jack develops a deep respect for the culture and history of Saint Nick.

Of all the films screened at committee, Becoming Santa might have received the most unanimous praise and easily the most laughs.  

Sunday, Sept. 25, 9:30 p.m. - Oriental Theatre                            

Wednesday, Sept 28, 4:45 p.m. - Downer Theatre              

Thursday, Sept. 29, 4:30 p.m. - Ridge Cinema                       

Sunday, Oct. 2, 7:15 p.m. - North Shore Cinema

The film festival isn't all documentaries though. There are plenty of great narrative films as well. To see the rest of my suggestions, read my article here:http://oakcreek.patch.com/articles/six-films-to-see-at-the-milwaukee-film-festival

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