There’s nothing “Mini” about the Marquee Film Festival put on by the student programmers at the Wisconsin Union Directorate at the University of Wisconsin Union South’s Marquee Theatre, 1208 W. Dayton St. Originally called the “Mini Indie Film Festival” when it came on the heels of the Wisconsin Film Festival in the spring, the festival was moved to November last year so as not to compete for eyeballs with the much bigger WFF. The “Mini Indie” name was dropped this year.
The festival is a free, four-day, 14-film festival, running Thursday through Sunday, featuring films that either didn’t play Madison or probably didn’t get the theatrical runs they deserved. I already missed writing about Thursday’s double feature of Charles Burnett’s sublime African-American drama “Killer of Sheep” and the wrenching Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy,” but I’ll try and keep up from here on out. Visit http://www.wudfilm.com for a full schedule and other info, and check back here Saturday and Sunday for more previews.
“Jafar Panahi’s Taxi” (5 p.m. Friday) — If you didn’t see Iranian director Panahi’s latest film when it played at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art earlier this fall, here’s your chance to catch up with it. Panahi has been banned by the Iranian government from making films, but he’s found creative ways around those restrictions, such as this film shot entirely in a moving cab, with Panahi the amused driver. As he picks up and drops off passengers, including a niece, what emerges is a complex portrait of modern Tehran we wouldn’t get to see any other way. My full review is here.
“I Believe in Unicorns” (7 p.m. Friday) — Here’s a first for the student-run festival — a filmmaker is coming in to show their work. In this case, writer-director Leah Meyerhoff will bring her film about young love, and a teenage girl who finds that the boy she hoped would rescue her from her doldrums instead brings more complications. Meyerhoff is one of the founders of Film Fatales, a group dedicated to supporting women filmmakers, so she’ll have a lot to say both about her film and the climate for female screenwriters and directors in general. If you can’t make Friday’s screening, she’ll be back in the Marquee Theater at noon Saturday for another chat.
“Mistress America” (9:30 p.m. Friday) — Noah Baumbach’s latest film (actually his second of 2015, after “While We’re Young”) got a weird booking in Madison. It played for a week at Palace Cinemas out in Sun Prairie, then a week at Point Cinemas, then it was gone. Odd. Anyway, the Marquee Film Fest gives Madison audiences another chance to catch his screwball comedy, starring Greta Gerwig as an irrepressible woman who whisks her college-freshman stepsister (Lola Kirke) on some New York adventures.
“Dude Bro Party Massacre III” (11:30 p.m. Friday) — In this horror comedy spoof, the brothers of a beer-soaked frat house find they’re being stalked by a sorority mother killer named, of course, Motherface. Note: “Dude Bro Party Massacres I” and “II” need not be seen to enjoy “III,” as they do not exist.