Celebrate Women's History Month with a great organization and great movies, all for a great price and from the greatest seat in the house: your couch!
For the entire month of March, Milwaukee Film is celebrating women filmmakers along with women's stories and perspectives on screen with its Women's History Month program, a mini-festival featuring more than two-dozen movies – ranging from shorts to features, docs to fiction – along with several live-streamed events and discussions that take the film's ideas beyond your big screen. Or your small screen. Thanks to Milwaukee Film's virtual platforms, you can bring these riveting works to your laptop, your television, just about anywhere you're comfortable getting caught up in a cinematic story.
There's all matter of ways to watch this special month-long program – but even more excellent movies to watch. My colleague Molly Snyder picked three of her must-sees for the Women's History Month program – all fascinating films in their own right – and here are the three that caught my eye. And to watch them all – or find your own favorites in the field – head over to Milwaukee Film's website.
In case you missed this doc at the 2020 Milwaukee Film Festival, this Women's History Month mini-fest is giving you another shot – and you shouldn't let this second chance go to waste. Shalini Kantayya's high-tech doc dives into the world of facial recognition software and its alarmingly fast rise in use – particularly in law enforcement – without any laws or protections in place for the public. Worst of all, while we imagine technology as this impartial, logic-guided ideal without our human flaws, it's only as unbiased as it's programmed to be – meaning, as the doc's main subject Joy Buolamwini discovers, the technology errors when reading faces that aren't white. Invasive AND incorrect? A horrifying combination.
Examining prejudice in these growing tech spaces, "Coded Bias" is a doc that plays like a thriller – one that comes complete with a compelling protagonist in Buolamwini, a young Black tech researcher who discovers the holes in facial recognition's programming and works, along with other hi-tech heroines, to create greater awareness, diversity and accountability in the field. The result is eerie, informative and inspirational – as in you'll be inspired by Buolamwini's work and also probably inspired to burn all your computers and phones in a bin and live in the woods for a bit.
An inside look and unique perspective into one of the biggest debate flashpoints in our nation, "Women in Blue" gets incredible access as it goes behind the scenes with the Minneapolis Police Department as its first female (not to mention openly gay) police chief and several women in uniform work to reform the organization and rebuild community trust from the inside. Can different perspectives bring the change necessary to this often hyper-masculine environment and profession? Is our current policing system salvagable, or is it broken beyond repair? Considering the doc was filmed just before the George Floyd killing shook the department, the city, the nation and the entire globe, you might already have an answer – but Deirdre Fishel's "Women in Blue" gets at some very important questions in the process.
A profoundly intimate and quietly gutwrenching doc, "Through the Night" follows the women intersecting at a 24-hour daycare center in New York – from the mothers emotionally coping with leaving their children behind to work brutal hours and support their family, to the woman in charge of the facility and of her community's kids, reflecting on the exhausting struggles of trying to raise her own family while helping raise others. Like a non-fiction city-set rendition of "Nomadland," Loira Limbal's modest but moving documentary puts a quiet focus on the economic hardships that push these mothers and their families to the physical and emotional brink while also forwarding the tender connections that form – with the kids and the parents – as they attempt to make the best out of often the worst situations.
For more information on Milwaukee Film's Women's History Month program, click here – and to buy individual tickets or all-access passes to both films and events, head over to Milwaukee Film's website.
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.