By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 05, 2019 at 1:36 PM

It begins!

After months of eager anticipation, Milwaukee Film today announced its first selections for this year's upcoming film festival – focusing in this first release on the retrospective films, including a special screening of "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me," the iconic 1928 silent masterpiece "The Passion of Joan of Arc" complete with a live score, a screening of the essential 1990 documentary "Paris is Burning" with the director in attendance for a post-viewing Q&A, the cult classic "Showgirls" and – because it wouldn't be the Milwaukee Film Festival without it – "Stop Making Sense."

Here are all of the films and guests in this first of many exciting announcements to come from Milwaukee Film:

"Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me"

Hot off the success of 2017's highly anticipated third season, the Milwaukee Film Festival will bring in the 1992 cult classic David Lynch movie "Fire Walk with Me," a prequel to the original famed TV series about the nightmarish final days of Laura Palmer, on Tuesday, Oct. 29. But that's not all: Laura Palmer herself, Sheryl Lee, and Ray Wise will be in attendance for a post-screening conversation – because it's a David Lynch film; you're gonna want to talk about it – followed by a "Twin Peaks" afterparty for more conversation. What do you think about that, Mr. Lynch?

"The Passion of Joan of Arc"

Every year, Milwaukee Film brings a beautiful piece of silent cinematic history to life on the big screen with the help of a live musical performance. It's always a highlight – and this year appears to be no different as the Milwaukee Film Festival will bring in the 1928 silent masterwork "The Passion of Joan of Arc" – and its immaculate, soul-stunning lead performance from Maria Falconetti – on Friday, Oct. 18 complete with an original score created by contemporary electronic composer George Sarah and performed by a crew of Milwaukee musicians. 

"Paris is Burning"

One of the most influential and iconic documentaries ever made, "Paris is Burning" makes its grand and glamorous return to the big screen with this newly restored version, telling the story of New York City's drag ball in the late '80s and the maligned minority communities that gave it such special life, personality and energy. And in case seeing this terrific document on screen wasn't enough, director Jennie Livingston will not only be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A, but also to deliver a festival keynote address.

"Showgirls" and "You Don't Nomi"

At the time, "Showgirls" was considered one of the worst movies of the year and one of the most notorious flops in cinematic history. Almost 25 years later, the erotic Vegas strip show melodrama has evolved into a cult classic, beloved by its fans as both silly soapy fun as well as something more. (But mostly silly soapy fun.) Come see where you land on this strip-apalooza when it plays in 35mm – then stick around for "You Don't Nomi," a documentary about the NC-17 movie's rise to cult glory. What do you think about that, star Elizabeth Berkley?

"The Birds"

Any time an Alfred Hitchcock movie makes it to the big screen is a good day – well, maybe not for the characters in the film, but certainly for the people watching it. And you should certain watch Hitchcock's ornithophobia-inspiring classic "The Birds," following a young woman who tries to survive a rabid flock of feathered fiends descending upon San Francisco. It's easily the best bird-centric movie you'll see this fall ... except for maybe that new animated movie where spy Will Smith gets turned into a pigeon.


One of the most famous movies within a movie of all time, Milwaukee film icon Mark Borchardt's "Coven" – the subject of the beloved documentary "American Movie" – makes it to the Milwaukee Film Festival screen, telling the story of a recovering addict who joins a self-help group that turns out to have ties to the devil. 

"The Last Unicorn"

The Rankin/Bass animated '80s classic comes back to the big screen with this retrospective pick from the Milwaukee Film Festival, following a lone unicorn who discovers she's the last of her kind and goes on an adventure to discover what happened to her fellow one-horned horses. Enjoy a hand-drawn blast to the past – or introduce an animated classic to a new generation. 

"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 one of the great rock bands, Talking Heads. Make it happen. And if you've already seen it ... well, make it happen again. You won't regret it. And in the name of the rule of threes, what do you think about that, David Byrne?

"A Bigger Splash"

Finally made available in the States just this year, this groundbreaking 1974 blend of documentary and fiction follows painter David Hockney as he deals with his breakup with his longtime partner and its effect on his art and his emotional state. 

And this is just the tip of the cinematic iceberg, as the Milwaukee Film Festival is expected to announce its full list of selections on Thursday, Sept. 26 – plus a few more of these announcements to tantalize and tease that ultimate reveal before then. So start saving up for tickets, which go on sale to the general public beginning on Thursday, Oct. 3 and to Milwaukee Film members on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Plus, festival passes and packages are on sale now at Milwaukee Film's website. And be sure to stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more news and announcements. 

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.