23 films to discover at the 2021 Milwaukee Film Festival

For the first time in 13 years of history, the Milwaukee Film Festival is a spring event.

Launched less than seven months after the end of the 2020 festival, the 2021 film festival runs from May 6 to 20. Just like last year, it is exclusively online.

There are two ways to watch the films screened during the festival: via the Milwaukee Film website, at mkefilm.org/festivaland through the apps available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. For an easy-to-follow guide, visit mkefilm.org/howtofest.

Tickets for individual films are $ 8, $ 5 for Milwaukee Film members. Until May 5, an all access pass costs $ 160, $ 90 for Milwaukee Film members. Once the festival begins, the passes cost $ 175, $ 100 for members.

RELATED:‘Revisiting the World’: Milwaukee Film Festival 2021 gears up to be a spring event

Most of the 89 feature films and 17 short film programs are available throughout the 15-day Milwaukee Film Festival.

There are many choices. So here are 23 films to start; the titles are listed in alphabetical order. (Viewing limits, dates, or geographic areas are included where applicable.) There are many more worth exploring; consult the guide online at mkefilm.org.

RELATED:‘Revisiting the World’: Milwaukee Film Festival 2021 gears up to be a spring event

What to watch at the Milwaukee Film Festival

Rickey Wilson Jr., left, and Shannon DeVido star in the musical "Best summer ever."

“Best summer ever”: A jock finds out the new girl at school is the same one he fell in love with at dance camp in this cheerful original musical, which features a fully integrated cast and crew of both disabled and non-disabled people. (Audio description version also available.)

“Cocoon”: A Berlin teenager is torn between her infatuation with a quirky girl and her loyalty to her crazed boyish sister in this queer coming-of-age drama from Germany.

“Cowboys”: In this genre of western, a Montana man (Steve Zahn) recently separated from his wife runs away with their child who, although he identifies as a boy, will be forced by his mother to dress and d ‘act like a girl, the sex assigned to her at birth.

“Death of Nintendo”: In the Philippines in the 1990s, a team of teenagers face a series of coming-of-age dramas, ranging from power outages putting their Nintendo systems out of service to the decision to be circumcised, in this series. sweet comedy.

Ezra Dewey plays boy whose wish on a magical beast puts him in jeopardy in horror film "The Djinn."

“The Djinn”: A boy who cannot speak wishes a magical beast to regain his voice, not realizing that he has to survive a night with the creature for his wish to come true. This unconventional horror film is presented with an American sign with English subtitles. (Available only to Wisconsin viewers.)

“The dry”: In this Australian thriller, Eric Bana stars as a man who returns home for a friend’s funeral, only to have to deal with not only the present death, but that of his past. (Available only to Wisconsin viewers.)

“Fruits of labor”: This inspiring documentary portrays a 15-year-old California Latina who, working in fields and factories when not in high school, dreams of being the first in her family to go to college.

Singer Nina Simone is one of six iconic black artists profiled in "How we feel free."

“How do you feel free”: Six legendary black artists who have defied the entertainment industry’s attempts to marginalize them – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Cicely Tyson, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll and Pam Grier – have their due in this documentary.

“I blame the company”: In this violent satire, independent filmmaker Gillian Wallace Horvat plays an independent filmmaker who, while making a mock-documentary about the perfect murder, compiles a pretty impressive body count.

“I was a simple man”: A man (Steve Iwamoto) in his last days of life looks back on his past with the help of the ghost of his late wife (Constance Wu) in this film by Hawaiian filmmaker Christopher Makoto Yogi.

“Manzanar, diverted: when water turns to dust”: This documentary chronicles the efforts of an alliance of indigenous women, environmental activists and Japanese-American internees of World War II who defend a California valley and its waters against the endless thirst of Los Angeles.

“The meaning of Hitler”: This documentary looks beyond the mere biography to explore and deconstruct Hitler’s continued power as a symbol of hate and evil. (Available only to Wisconsin viewers.)

“No ordinary man”: The life and legacy of jazz conductor Billy Tipton, turned transgender icon, is recreated by young transgender artists in this documentary.

“The pink cloud”: When a toxic pink cloud covers the earth, a woman is forced into self-quarantine with her one-night stand in this Brazilian sci-fi drama, filmed a year before the pandemic.

Jasna Djuricic is a UN interpreter in Bosnia desperate to save her family from Serbian forces in Srebrenica in Oscar nominated film "Quo Vadis, Aida?"

“Quo Vadis, Aida?”: A UN translator in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica is torn between her job and protecting her family when Serbian forces take over in this Oscar-nominated drama.

“Rita Moreno: just a girl who decided to go”: Rita Moreno’s pioneering life and career comes to life in this loving tribute / documentary.

Still-active Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner Rita Moreno receives tribute treatment in documentary "Rita Moreno: Just a girl who decided to go."

“Since I broke down”: This in-depth paper explores the impact of a three-step approach to criminal justice in Tacoma, Washington, where people in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods pay a disproportionate price.

“A kind of paradise”: The Villages, Florida’s (and the world’s) largest retirement community, isn’t all it seems, as this popular documentary reveals – which has never been shown in theaters in Milwaukee.

Sly and the Stone family perform at the 1969 Harlem Culture Festival in

“Summer Of Soul (… or, when the revolution couldn’t be televised)”: In 1969, the Harlem Cultural Festival celebrated African American music and culture and promoted black pride and unity. The extraordinary musician and music historian Questlove (The Roots) makes his feature film directorial debut with that loving take on a moment in history we should all know; the film won both the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and is the closing film of the Milwaukee Film Festival. (Available online only on May 20, the last day of the festival.)

Tom Petty, right, sits on the board with producer Rick Rubin in a scene from the documentary "Tom Petty, somewhere where you feel free."

“Tom Petty, somewhere you feel free”: The festival’s opening night film (although it is available throughout the festival) combines interviews with previously unseen archive footage to chronicle the creation of rock legend Petty’s 1994 album ” Wildflowers “.

“When Claude was shot”: In 2014, during a visit to his former hometown of Milwaukee, Claude Motley was shot dead; two days later, his 15-year-old attacker was himself shot by someone he attempted to rob, and the teenager was paralyzed. In this new documentary, Motley’s longtime friend, filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, chronicles Motley’s journey, including conflicting desires for justice and the end of Milwaukee’s cycle of violence.

Claudiare Motley shows the aftermath of being shot on a street in Milwaukee in

“Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America”: ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffrey Robinson, a Marquette University graduate, delivers an introduction to the fight against darkness in America in this film, winner of the Spotlight Documentary Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival .

“You will die at twenty”: Living under the shadow of a holy man’s prophecy that he will die at the age of 20, a 19-year-old Sudanese begins to question his fate.

Contact Chris Foran at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ cforan12.




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