By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jun 03, 2021 at 9:01 AM

“OnMilwaukee is pleased to sponsor Pride Month with Milwaukee Film, presenting more than 15 movies celebrating and spotlighting LGBTQ+ stories throughout the month of June. To learn more, buy tickets and get to watching, click here.”

Some of the classic Pride celebrations may be halted this summer, but for Milwaukee Film, the festivities are a full go with another month-long mini-festival hosted on the organization's virtual streaming platforms throughout the month of June.

Starting on June 4, Milwaukee Film will feature more than a dozen films – from feature-length options to a shorts program, from dramas to coming-of-age comedies and more – all highlighting and showcasing LGBTQ+ stories and film history on screen. All of the films – as well as related events and conversations throughout the month – can be found on Milwaukee Film's website, easily streamed on a laptop or TV screen, bringing a world of vibrant stories and experiences often untold by mainstream cinema directly to your couch.

"Pride has always been about the fight for justice and a celebration of our identities in all of their beautiful complexity," said Aster Gilbert, GenreQueer programmer for Milwaukee Film, in a release. "It began as a rebellion that sought to destigmatize our gender and sexualities and tend the garden to allow a thousand flowers to bloom. The program we’ve put together continues this legacy. I’m so excited for audiences to connect with these films and participate in the incredible community events we’ve put together."

The films selected for the Pride Month program range from inspiratitonal and informative documentaries ("Ahead of the Curve," "Queer Japan," "Shakedown") to dramas from across the country and the globe ("So Pretty," "Song Lang," "End of the Century") to a two-film retrospective on one of the groundbreaking voices in LGBTQ+ storytelling on screen and even some returning favorites from recent Milwaukee Film Festivals ("Dramarama," "Breaking Fast") that you may have missed the first time around or want to savor a second showing. 

While they're all winners, here are five (well, actually six) of the most intriguing of the Pride Month program's picks.

1. "Breaking Fast"

A returning favorite from the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival, "Breaking Fast" brings a natural and complex twist to its gay romance storyline, telling the story of a practicing Muslim living out in California who gets over a recent heartbreak by hanging out with a surprising new confidante during the traditional nightly meals throughout the month-long celebration of Ramadan. With each night, the two get even closer together despite their seeming differences, serving up a lovely and tender story of connection and romance. 

2. "End of the Century"

Two young men connect in this Argentinean romance – but there's something more than meets the eye in this intriguing movie that's part love story and part mystery as "End of the Century" carefully reveals its secrets as its leading duo grows closer and closer together. Combine the compellingly elusive plot with some sumptuous European photography and gorgeous travelogue-esque shots, and you have a Pride Month pick that's very much worth your time.

3. "Forbidden Letters"/"Passing Strangers"

As a part of its Pride Month celebration, Milwaukee Film is paying tribute to one of the pioneers of gay cinema: Arthur J. Bressan Jr., who helped bring erotic, intimate and emotional gay stories to the screen. Two of his lauded dramas are available – and gloriously restored – through the Pride Month program: "Forbidden Letters," the story of a young man reading the letters he couldn't send his imprisoned love, as well as "Passing Strangers," a love story started with a connection in the local newspaper. Pay tribute to a true groundbreaker with one of these two sensual romances. (Milwaukee Film does caution that these films feature some adults-only content.)

4. "Ahead of the Curve"

A returning winner from Milwaukee Film's Women's History Month mini-fest, the documentary "Ahead of the Curve" tells of the origins of Curve, the best-selling and revolutionary lesbian lifestyle magazine and its unstoppable founder Franco Stevens. But after decades of providing a key outlet for lesbian voices and experiences, Curve faces potentially its end as it tries to bring its iconic magazine into the 21st century and into a new generation. A fascinating and informative look behind the curtain of a key LGBTQ+ voice – as well as the struggles and strategies behind running a media outlet in the internet age.

5. "Song Lang"

Swooning melodrama takes center stage in this Vietnamese romance about an unscrupulous underworld debt collector and an opera performer who unexpectedly fall in love after the former comes to collect a debt from the latter's theater troupe. Together, the two slowly learn more about each other and themselves in this beautifully photographed and artistically told story about dramas in the spotlight and out of it, a tribute to close random connections as well as the art of traditional Vietnamese folk opera (or Cai-luong).

Here's the rest of the lineup for Milwaukee Film's Pride Month mini-festival:

  • "Dramarama"
  • "Pride Shorts: Date Night"
    • "Bad Boy Date Night"
    • "Don't Text Back!"
    • "Here With You"
    • "Sweet Sweet Kink"
    • "Swipe"
  • "Mosquita y Mari"
  • "Queer Japan"
  • "Shakedown"
  • "So Pretty"
  • "The New Black"

The Pride Month celebration will continue beyond the credits of these movies as well as Milwaukee Film will also host several discussions, panels and more across its social media pages throughout the month, bringing the LGBTQ+ stories from the reels even further into reality. 

Almost all of the films will become available at Milwaukee Film's website starting Friday, June 4. ("Mosquita y Mari" is the lone exception, available for a limited time from June 11-20.) For general audiences, individual tickets cost $8 for individual films – save for "Ahead of the Curve," which costs $12 – while Milwaukee Film members can snag a discount on admission, only costing $5 per movie and $10 for "Ahead of the Curve."

For more information on all of the selected movies, virtual events, purchasing tickets or becoming a member, visit Milwaukee Film's website. And here's to celebrating Pride Month at the movies!

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.