For those upset that the 2021 Milwaukee Film Festival has already long-since come and gone, don't fret: Milwaukee Film's revamped Cultures & Communities Festival is here to fill that MFF-shaped hole in your fall schedule – and then some.
Running now through Sept. 12 at the Oriental Theatre and at locations across the city, the Cultures & Communities Festival – previously known as the Minority Health Film Festival – is a week-long celebration of people's cultural heritages, authentic selves and wellness, both individual and communal. To promote these ideas, stir conversation and inspire attendees, the festival is showcasing more than 30 films – from recent Oscar winners to eye-opening documentaries and indie gems, screening both in person at the reopened Oriental Theater as well as virtually at Milwaukee Film's easy-to-use online platform.
The newly rebranded and retooled event extends far beyond merely the big screen this year as well, with numerous panels, discussions, events, parties and more all on the festival's remarkably loaded schedule.
It's been a jam-packed week of moving and entertaining stories told in person and on screen, as well as an excellent re-introduction to the refurbished Oriental Theatre and tremendous successor to the Milwaukee Film Festival, now shifted to spring. And it's still going on now – so to help make sure you make the most of this special festival, here's the remaining day-by-day lineup. (Screenings take place at the Oriental Theatre unless said otherwise.)
Friday, Sept. 10
- 7:30 p.m. – "All These Sons": Co-directed by Bing Liu (the critically acclaimed "Minding the Gap"), "All These Sons" follows two Chicago men who try to help the young Black men in their city escape gun violence through education, empowerment and personal interaction.
- 9 p.m. – "All the Streets are Silent": This high-energy and high-style documentary tracks the intersection between two growing subcultures – skateboarding and hip-hop – in New York City during the late '80s and early '90s.
- 6 p.m. – "Around the Table: Stories of Food and Culture": Still hungry after Thursday night's barbecue feast? Come to No Studios for an appetizing StorySlam session telling stories all focused on experiences centered around meals and the dinner table.
- 10:30 p.m. – "'All the Streets are Silent' After Party": After the stylish skate-centric documentary's screening, wheel your way next door to Landmark Lanes for a special afterparty featuring pizza, drinks and all your favorite throwback hits and deep cuts from DJ Why B.
Saturday, Sept. 11
- 12:15 p.m. – "Minari": If you missed this lovely and tender drama earlier this year – and even if you didn't – check out this screening of the Oscar winner, following a Korean-American family (led by the great Steven Yeun) trying to plant their roots, both literally and emotionally, in rural Arkansas.
- 3:45 p.m. – "All Light, Everywhere": Acclaimed documentarian Theo Anthony shifts attention from the lo-fi world of rats to the high-tech world of surveillance, the omnipresence of cameras and what it means to be watched in our modern times.
- 7:30 p.m. – "9to5: The Story of a Movement": You all know the famous song. Now know the true story behind it as this doc tells the story of the heroic Boston secretaries took to the street and the media in the '70s to push for equal pay, equal access to advancement, safer work conditions and more.
- 9 p.m. – "Summertime": Directed by Carlos LoÌpez Estrada ("Blindspotting," "Raya and the Last Dragon"), "Summertime" is a one-of-a-kind portrait of Los Angeles, expressed on screen almost entirely in spoken word poetry from real locals.
- 10 a.m. – "Black Space Therapy: Clinical Panel Discussion": Black Space will lead a special session for clinicians and providers on bias, overcoming it and cultural competency. Pre-registration is required at Milwaukee Film's website.
- 10 a.m. – "Re-orienting the Oriental Theatre": The Oriental Theatre is a gorgeous historic gem. It's also steeped in Orientalism, from its name to its decor. In order to help guide how to move forward, this panel will first look to the past to discuss the word "Oriental" and its legacy in American history and culture.
- 11 a.m. – "Black Birth: A Maternal Health Conversation and Resource Fair": Led by the short film "Black Birth," this event – hosted at the Black Historical Society, 2620 W. Center St. – will discuss the complexities surrounding Black motherhood in our country and provide resources.
- 1 p.m. – "Black Space Therapy: Group Session for Womxn": Black Space will offer free 90-minute group therapy sessions at No Studios, 1037 W. McKinley Ave., for Black and Brown womxn, mxn and LGBTQIA+ communities. Pre-registration is required at Milwaukee Film's website.
- 1 p.m. – "The Art of Coping Youth Showcase": Film isn't the only art on display during the Cultures & Communities Festival, as this gallery-style showcase at No Studios will display art pieces, short films and photography works from participants in TRUE Skool's Art of Coping sessions, which focus on positive self-healing through art and expression.
- 5 p.m. – "Amplify & Activate Milwaukee's Tech Ecosystem": Hosted at No Studios and facilitated by Milwaukee's Diverse Dining, this conversation will focus on discussing Brew City's future as a tech hub – and what the future of tech hub businesses, projects and cities could and should look like.
Sunday, Sept. 12
- 12:15 p.m. – "Son of Monarchs": An immigrant biologist travels from New York City to his hometown of MichoacaÌn, Mexico to say his farewell to his deceased grandmother – along the way reflecting on his own shifting, changing identity.
- 4 p.m. – "The Big Scary 'S' Word": Socialism is one of the most divisive political talking points in our times – but what does it actually mean? And what can its past and present incarnations teach us about our future?
- 7:30 p.m. – "The Fight": An energetic and enthusiastic portrait of the incredible lawyers inside the ACLU and four high-profile cases during the Trump administration that tested the boundaries of American rights and liberties.
- 10 a.m. – "Black Space Therapy: Group Session for LGBTQIA+": Black Space will offer free 90-minute group therapy sessions at No Studios, 1037 W. McKinley Ave., for Black and Brown womxn, mxn and LGBTQIA+ communities. Pre-registration is required at Milwaukee Film's website.
- 1 p.m. – "Black Space Therapy: Group Session for Mxn": Black Space will offer free 90-minute group therapy sessions at No Studios, 1037 W. McKinley Ave., for Black and Brown womxn, mxn and LGBTQIA+ communities. Pre-registration is required at Milwaukee Film's website.
- 6 p.m. – "Closing Night Awards Show Celebration": All of the movies at this festival rule – but which ones rule the most? Let's find out at this closing night awards show, hosted at The Cooperage – and then dance this special week-long event away.
- 8:30 p.m. – "Closing Night Awards Show Afterparty": What better way to end this excellent week than a party? Milwaukee Film agrees – so they'll throw a DJ Bizzon-soundtracked celebration at Boone & Crockett to reflect on this multi-faceted festival with a whole lot of fun.
And for those who would feel more comfortable festing from home – or just want to watch as many movies as possible from as many places as possible – here are the Cultures & Communities Festival's equally impressive virtual streaming offerings, all available beginning at noon on Sept. 6. (For more information on an individual selection, click on the movie title or visit Milwaukee Film's website.)
- "9to5: The Story of a Movement"
- "A Place to Breathe"
- "A Sexplanation"
- "And Then They Came For Us"
- "The Big Scary 'S' Word"
- "Building a Bridge"
- "Chasing Childhood"
- "The Death of My Two Fathers"
- "Devil's Pie: D'Angelo" (only available through Sept. 10)
- "Ferguson Rises"
- "Finding Yingying"
- "Fruits of Labor"
- "Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times"
- "No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics"
- "Reflection: A Walk with Water"
- "Scenes From the Glittering World"
- "Shorts: Healthy Kids!"
- "Shorts: Hindsight Project"
- "Shorts: MKE Culture & Community"
- "Strike a Pose"
- "Try Harder"
- "Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority"
- "Unlearning Sex"
- "Wild Indian"
In addition to these film selections, the Cultures & Communities Festival will also host several virtual events on Milwaukee Film's YouTube and Facebook pages as well as on Black Lens' Facebook page. For more information on the virtual event offerings, click here.
Tickets for individual in-person Cultures & Communities Festival showings cost $12 for general audiences and $9 for Milwaukee Film members, while virtutal viewings cost $9 for general audiences and $5 for Milwaukee Film Members. Full festival passes – including access to all virtual and in-person movie screenings – cost $99.99 for general audiences and $74.99 for members, while online only festival passes cost $29.99 and $24.99, respectively. Tickets and passes can be online at Milwaukee Film's website.
And if you're going to an in-person festival screening at the Oriental Theatre, be sure to heed Milwaukee Film's COVID-19 protocols – which include social distanced seating availability, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours, and masks on regardless of vaccination status (save for when eating or drinking). For more information, click here.
So get excited for the Cultures & Communities Festival – and as for the Oriental Theater overall, check out their current selections right here. We'll see you at the movies!
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.