This year's Milwaukee Film Festival is still several months away, but the buzz has already begun.
This morning, Milwaukee Film – in collaboration with Alverno Presents – announced the centerpiece film of this year's festival, a screening of a rare 35mm print of Soviet writer-director Aleksandr Dovzhenko's 1930 silent film "Earth." The movie follows the lives and struggles of Ukrainian farmers coping with the new agricultural rules and changes of Stalin's rule.
The film was very controversial when it was first released, but now it is considered by many to be a masterpiece, with famed critic Jonathan Rosenbaum calling it "incontestably one of the greatest of all Soviet films."
Providing the live score for the classic silent film will be Altos, a 12-piece ensemble of Milwaukee-based musicians. In order to enhance the sound of the new original score, the ensemble will expand to 18 members for the one-time-only screening.
Presenting classic silent films with live accompaniment is not a new thing for the Milwaukee Film Festival. In 2010, Boston's Alloy Orchestra came into town to accompany a restored print of Fritz Lang's widely influential silent film "Metropolis." The Alloy Orchestra came back last year to accompany "Blackmail," an early silent Alfred Hitchcock thriller.
Milwaukee Film members may also recall last year's screening of the silent German masterpiece "Pandora's Box," which was joined by Swedish film score composer Matti Bye.
The screening will take place Friday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre. Tickets will be available through the Alverno Presents box office beginning July 15. Prices are set at $20 for general public tickets and $17 for Milwaukee Film members. The Milwaukee Film box office will also be selling tickets, starting Sept. 11 for Milwaukee Film members and Sept. 12 for the general public.
The festival itself begins Sept. 26 and runs through Oct. 10.