The 2013 Milwaukee Film Festival kicks off Thursday and runs for two weeks, presenting over 240 films, filmmaker panels, live shows and other special events. The MFF 2013 calendar looks as eclectic as it is impressive, with series devoted to children’s films, music-themed films, and of course films with Milwaukee and Wisconsin tie-ins.
I’m planning to be there Friday to see a few films, so look for my report on the blog on Saturday. I’m tempted to say to just hit Interstate 94 on any given day and just see what’s playing, the quality of films is so high. (And the films play at some of Milwaukee’s most distinctive theaters — the palatial Oriental Theatre, the funky Downer Theatre, and the expansive new Fox Bay Cinema-Grill).
But to get you started on the film schedule at mkefilm.org, here are 13 things that caught my eye:
“Break Up Man” (Thursday, Sept. 26, 6:30 p.m., Oriental) — MFF always goes for a crowd-pleaser for the opening night selection, and this year is no exception with this popular German film, about a professional “break-up artist” who must end relationships in order to further his career.
“Kids’ Shorts : Size Small” (Saturday, Sept. 28, 10:30 a.m., Oriental) — The festival divides its children’s shorts by running time for little attention spans — here are the quick ones.
“Blow Out” (Saturday, Sept. 28, 4 p.m., Oriental) — Brian DePalma’s paranoid thriller will be presented by several writers from The Dissolve website (the Wisconsin Film Festival should have them up next year!)
“Wings of Desire” (Sunday, Sept. 29, 3:45 p.m., Oriental) — Any chance to see Wim Wenders’ wondrous film about angels watching over Berlin, one of them yearning to be human, is worth seeing, especially in a lustrous 35mm print.
“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” (Sunday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m., Oriental) — This documentary on the life of a Hollywood and Broadway legend will be unlivened by the fact that the festival just announced that Stritch herself will be at the screening.
“Muscle Shoals” (Monday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m., Downer and Thursday, Oct, 3, 7 p.m., Fox Bay Cinema Grill) — This documentary looks at the legendary Alabama recording studio, where everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Drive-By Truckers have recorded classics.
“After Tiller” (Tuesday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m, Oriental) — There are only four doctors in the U.S. willing to perform third-trimester abortions, and this extraordinary documentary chronicles their work in the face of death threats.
“Ludwig II” (Wednesday, Oct. 2, noon, Oriental, and Sunday, Oct. 2, noon, Downer) — If you like long, engrossing epics, settle in for this 160-minute biopic of the Bavarian king known as the “mad monarch.”
“The Girls in the Band” (Thursday, Oct. 3, 4:45 p.m., Oriental, and Tuesday, Oct. 8, 5 p.m., Fox Bay Cinema Griill) — Similar to “20 Feet From Stardom,” this documentary looks at female musicians overlooked in their time — only this time it’s jazz session musicians who weren’t properly credited in a male-dominated genre.
“We Are What We Are” (Friday, Oct. 4, 9:30 p.m., Oriental) — In this stylish and gripping horror film, a father and his two daughters keep to themselves in a small town, and with good reason — they’re cannibals.
“An Evening with Paul Attanasio” (Saturday, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m., Oriental) — This one-of-a-kind evening explores the work of Milwaukee native and Hollywood writer-producer Attanasio, as he presents and talks about his many acclaimed projects for film and television, including “Donnie Brasco” and “Homicide: LIfe on the Street.”
“August: Osage County” (Monday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m., Oriental) — The all-star adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play is one of the hottest tickets at the festival, but some rush tickets may be available at the door.
“Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me” (Sunday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m, Fox Bay Cinema Grill, and Wednesday, Oct. 9, 4:45 p.m., Downer) — This documentary on the legendary power-pop band should appeal to fans of Alex Chilton and company.