Milwaukee Film Festival adds opening, closing and Spotlight picks to 2017 lineup
This morning, the Milwaukee Film Festival added its full collection of Spotlight Presentations – including the festival's opening- and closing-night picks – to its ever-expanding lineup. The selections range from inspirational documentaries to critically acclaimed comedies, roaring concert movie classics to mesmerizing silent film standouts. And, of course, booze.
Here are the Spotlight Presentations (sponsored by OnMilwaukee, as well as 88Nine Radio Milwaukee) for the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival:
Opening night: "Stumped"
Serving as the Milwaukee Film Festival's opening-night pick, "Stumped" tells the incredible true story of Will Lautzenheiser, a film teacher at Montana State University whose pulled muscle suddenly turns into a bacterial infection, leaving him limbless. But not without hope and humor, however, as he turns to stand-up comedy to share his story and cope with it himself. However, his story takes a turn as an experimental double-arm transplant comes on his radar – and with it the possibility of returning to his previous pre-surgery life. It's half medical drama, half comedy, half inspirational story (OK, that's three halves; we're not mathematicians) but all awe-inspiring.
Centerpiece: "The Blood Is at The Doorstep"
A follow-up to his probing 2015 short film "Mothers For Justice," "The Blood is at the Doorstep" is Milwaukee director Erik Ljung's feature-length look into the aftermath of the 2014 police shooting of Dontre Hamilton, intimately spending time with the family and the surrounding community, as well as branching out into the greater national conversation about police violence.
Closing night: "Landline"
Gillian Robespierre's follow-up to the critically-acclaimed dramedy "Obvious Child" reunites the up-and-coming writer-director with star Jenny Slate for a trip back in time – to 1995, where two Manhattanite sisters struggle to get along as one copes with her new engagement and one rages her way through high school. However, when the two discovery their father (John Turturro) is having an affair behind their mother's (Edie Falco) back, the two team up to expose their duplicitous dad while keeping the news from mom.
Get ready for the ultimate battle between man and machine, taking place on the battlefield of ... an ancient board game? The documentary "AlphaGo" tells the story of one of the world's best Go players facing off against AlphaGo, a Google-developed artificial intelligence created to outplay and outsmart any human mind. Who will win – and does anyone else think this sounds like a real-life prequel to "The Terminator"?
"The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography"
The latest work from essential documentarian Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line," "The Fog of War") turns the lens on Elsa Dorfman, a lifelong friend of the filmmaker as well as a spectacular artist in her own right, working as a photographer who's captured generations of cultural icons with her own camera.
"I, Daniel Blake"
The latest film from English director Ken Loach ("The Wind That Shakes The Barley," "Kes"), "I, Daniel Blake" chronicles its title character fighting through British bureaucracy after he's denied his welfare benefits while recovering from a heart attack. It's more than just a class-centric tearjerker, however, as the drama won the coveted Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
"The Lost World" (feat. Alloy Orchestra)
The incredible Alloy Orchestra returns to Milwaukee's Oriental Theatre to provide yet another mesmerizing live score to yet another mesmerizing silent era classic, this year in the form of "The Lost World," the groundbreaking 1925 adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's adventure into a land of prehistoric monsters and cinematic magic (thanks to innovative stop-motion work for the time). Head back into both movie history and the planet's history in one swoop.
"Schumann's Bar Talks"
In this U.S. premiere – perfect for a state with more bars than grocery stores, and damn proud of it – author and bartender extraordinaire Charles Schumann takes viewers through a tour of some of the best bars in the world, hopping from continent to continent to find the world's best libations and the history behind the booze.
And, in case watching all those tasty beverages has made you thirsty, immediately following the film's Sept. 30 premiere, the festival will host "The Craft of the Cocktail," featuring creative concoctions from Boone & Crockett, Goodkind, Dock 18 and Bryant's. So maybe take an Uber to this one.
"Stop Making Sense"
One of the Milwaukee Film Festival's traditions returns for yet another year. In the rare case you've somehow forgotten, director Jonathan Demme's 1984 iconic concert film follows the Talking Heads through their deliriously energetic performances. It's an essential music film – and speaking of essential, you best bring your dancing shoes for this celebration of cinema, song and – in particular this year – the life and work of its late, great director, who passed away in April.
The Milwaukee Film Festival runs from Sept. 28 until Oct. 12. For more updates and info, stay tuned to OnMilwaukee.
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