Milwaukee Film Festival offers great variety

By TOM JOZWIK - Post Theater Critic

September 28, 2017


 “Scott Road” is a Chinese movie with a Milwaukee producer.

Milwaukee Film Photo


CUTLINE: “Roller Life” focuses on a Milwaukee roller derby league, the Brewcity Bruisers.

Tickets can be obtained from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Landmark Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee, before and during the festival, as well as at the various venues’ doors at the times of screenings.
Those four other venues: the Fox Bay Cinema Grill, 334 E. Silver Spring Drive, Whitefish Bay, the Times Cinema, 5906 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, Landmark Downer Theatre, 2589 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, and Avalon, 2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee.
For additional information regarding MFF events, go to

The ninth annual Milwaukee Film Festival, running for two weeks from Thursday to Oct. 12, promises - as usual - a great variety of cinematic offerings. A dozen promising MFF entries are synopsized below.

- “Aladdin.” The MFF marks the silver anniversary of the 1992 animated  Disney take on the age-old folk tale, whose songs include “A Whole New World.” Robin Williams voices the genie.

- “American Fable” tells the story of a pre-adolescent farm girl who comes upon a man confined to an abandoned silo.

- “Blood Is at the Doorstep.” Rather poetically billed as “a heart-rending portrait of justice deferred,” this look at the Dontre Hamilton situation has been designated this year’s MFF “Centerpiece” movie. Filmed over three years, “Blood” focuses on the family of Hamilton, who was shot to death by a police officer in downtown Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park. (See interview with the film’s creator on page 18.)


“Roller Life” focuses on a Milwaukee roller derby league, the Brewcity Bruisers.

Milwaukee Film Photo

- “I, Daniel Blake.” A UK/Belgium/France production that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, “I, Daniel” concerns a heart attack victim battling the British bureaucracy and connecting in the process with a single mom and her children. It was directed by Ken Loach (“Jimmy’s Hall,” “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”).

- “Lemon.” Trailers depict an intriguing-looking comedy about a lovable (or not) loser. Rhea Perlman and Michael Cera  join the film’s star, Brett Gelman, who wrote the script along with his spouse, “Lemon’s” director Janicza Michelle Bravo.

- “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992.” This documentary was produced and helmed by former Milwaukee-area resident John Ridley, Oscar-winning screenwriter for “12 Years a Slave” and director of the Jimi Hendrix biopic “Jimi: All Is by My Side,” a previous MFF feature.  “Let It Fall” examines the City of Angels in the decade leading up to the Rodney King debacle.

- “The Lost World.” The Landmark Oriental Theatre on Milwaukee’s East Side will provide the exquisite setting for the screening of this silent film from 1925. The Alloy Orchestra will play music to accompany the story written by Arthur Conan Doyle and starring Wallace Beery (whose character insists dinosaurs still roam the earth) and Lewis Stone on the big screen.

- “Love Jones.” A 35 mm screening, a rarity, will be accorded Theodore Witcher’s 1997 flick at the Oriental. “Love Jones” highlights an amorous African-American couple (Larenz Tate - recently one of the better aspects of “Girls Trip” - and Nia Long) and is, per publicists, “set in a middle-class bohemian milieu that Hollywood still struggles to showcase.”

- “Manlife.” Director Ryan Sarnowski, a filmmaker associated with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, takes a look at the many-sided Alfred Lawson and a disciple who for years peddled the Englishman’s philosophy of Lawsonomy. If you recall the “University of Lawsonomy” sign off of Interstate 94 in Racine County, you’re thinking along the right lines.

- “Requiem for a Running Back.” Rebecca Carpenter directed this documentary about her father, a football player for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions who was victimized by the neurocognitive disorder CTE. Still to see it, this reviewer is tempted to label “Requiem” a documentary complement to the 2015 feature flick “Concussion” starring Will Smith.

- “Roller Life.” Michael Brown’s doc examines Milwaukee’s Bay City Bruisers female roller derby league, including teams known as the Rushin’ Rollettes and the Shevil Knevils.

- “Scott Road.” William Tang helmed the Chinese film, a love triangle story of initiation produced by Milwaukeean Youcai Yang. “Scott Road” has been called “proof that global cinema can come from our own backyard."