By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 19, 2019 at 4:01 PM

You hear that? It's the Milwaukee Film Festival fast approaching – but more particularly, it's the newly announced lineup of selections in the festival's Sound Visions program, dedicated to the intersection of song and cinema on the big screen.

First announced by 91.7 WMSE, the program features more than a dozen selections ranging from profiles of music icons on stage and behind it, to explorations into particular genres, to true-crime thrillers about stolen priceless instruments, to the Milwaukee Film Festival tradition of screening "Stop Making Sense." And, because it bears repeating, there's a documentary about the Baha Men's hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out." I will never stop mentioning this.

No matter what you choose, however, it's certain to be music to your ears and a symphony for your eyes. 

Here's the full lineup coming to screens next month beginning Oct. 17:

"Bakoso: Afrobeats de Cuba"

Cuban music receives the wide-ranging documentary tribute that it deserves in "Bakoso," following DJ Jigüe as he goes on a journey to find its vibrant past and present. It's a cinematic experience certain to have you dancing – quite literally as the Milwaukee Film Festival will also feature DJ Jigüe performing live at this special screening.


What started in 1982 as a mere strip mall cafe run by a 27-year-old culinary school grad has evolved into one of the most iconic and influential venues in Music City. "Bluebird" tells the story of how such a seemingly small venue turned into such a massive Nashville landmark – with the help of performances from country music stars like Garth Brooks, Jason Isbell, Taylor Swift and many more.

"Carmine Street Guitars"

Classic hand-crafted independent shops of any and all varieties are hard to find these days – but one of the most famous survivors is Carmine Street Guitars, a custom guitar store featuring instruments carved from reclaimed wood from the city surrounding it, made for some high-profile clientele – from Bob Dylan to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and Patti Smith. The film that shares the shop's name follows five days in the life of the store and its owner, Rick Kelly, paying homage to a business that continues to defy the odds.

"Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind"

The Canadian folk legend gets the rock doc treatment as "If You Could Read My Mind" follows the now octogenarian musician as he reflects back on his incredible career and reveals several personal insights into a lauded and remarkably long life in the music industry. And in case all of that isn't enough, apparently Milwaukee gets a shoutout. WOO MILWAUKEE!

"Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound"

The perfect spiritual sequel to past MFF graduate "Score: A Film Music Documentary," "Making Waves" chats with some of the biggest names in cinema – Christopher Nolan, David Lynch, Steven Spielberg, just to name a few – to learn more about the craft of sound design and lift the curtain on the techniques used to make a visual medium sound as good and as meaningful as it looks. Plus maybe you'll finally learn what the difference is between Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing at the Oscars!

"Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool"

Capturing the ever-changing, complex life of jazz icon Miles Davis – much less even just one portion of it – in a single documentary is no easy feat. But leave it up to multiple Milwaukee Film Festival alum Stanley Nelson – the award-winning director behind "Tell Them We Are Rising" and "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution" – to paint a vivid portrait of this one-of-a-kind music legend.

"Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements"

Director Irene Taylor Brodsky (the filmmaker behind the MFF alum "Beware the Slenderman") turns the camera toward her own family's story as she follows her young deaf son Jonah as he receives cochlear implants and gains the ability to hear. His new sense leads him to Beethoven – and leads "Moonlight Sonata" into a sprawling documentary reaching beyond Jonah's story, into Jonah's deaf grandparents lives and the life of the legendary composer who famously lost his own hearing.

"Mr. Jimmy"

As a teenager in rural Japan, Aiko grew to love iconic Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page – so much so that, when he moved to Tokyo, he turned that passion into his own performing career, spending more than three decades as an immaculately researched cover band recreating the band's concerts for the Japanese nightlife. It's already a fascinating story – and that's all before Aiko receives a very special audience member: the real-life Jimmy Page. 

"Mystify: Michael Hutchence"

For fans of rock docs like "Amy," "Mystify" follows the rise and fall of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence as he goes from one of the most wanted men in music to a damaged man left behind by the industry. Instead of the usual "Behind the Music"-style talking head interviews, the documentary tells his story using home video clips, interview narration with close friends and family, and archival footage from his highs and lows.


Five years ago, Milwaukee, the nation and the music community locally and across the globe were rocked by a shocking and bold crime: a stolen million-dollar violin violently snatched from the hands of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond. This tense true-crime doc follows the case as investigators from around the city and the country race to solve the crime before the priceless violin – a piece of art in its own right – is lost to the black market underworld.

"Stop Making Sense"

Because of course. If you need me to explain what MFF tradition "Stop Making Sense" is, I don't even know what to say to you. Actually, I do: GO SEE "STOP MAKING SENSE"! It's only one of the best music documentaries of all time, directed by one of our finest directors (RIP, Jonathan Demme), featuring a great rock band, Talking Heads. Make it happen. And if you've already seen it ... well, make it happen again. You won't regret it.

"Who Let the Dogs Out"

Again: It's a documentary about how Baha Men's hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out" happened. Incredible. I would say get your tickets now, but I've already bought every seat at every screening – my apologies, everyone. 

"You Gave Me a Song: The Life and Music of Alice Gerrard"

"You Gave Me a Song" will give Milwaukee Film Festival audiences much more than a song, painting a portrait of Americana folk icon Alice Gerrard using an expansive amount of live performances, interviews with collaborators, archival footage and intimate moments. 

The Milwaukee Music Video Show

The days of MTV playing music videos on the regular may be dead, but the art and influence of these terrific tuneful shorts is alive and well. Just ask Childish Gambino or Beyonce or Taylor Swift – or any of the remarkable Milwaukee directors and musicians highlighted in this short film compilation, featuring notable local performers like Zed Kenzo, Surgeons In Heat and many more.

The Milwaukee Film Festival will take place next month beginning Oct. 17 through Oct. 31. For information on passes and ticket packages, visit Milwaukee Film's website. And for more updates on the rest of the festival's films and then some, stay tuned to OnMilwaukee.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

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.