UW’s Hyphenated American Film Festival kicks off this weekend at Union South


I’ve been a big fan of the Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Film Committee’s programming over the last few years — they seem to fill the Union South Marquee Theatre with just the right mix of recent hits that will bring in the students and indie films that people might have missed during their brief theatrical runs, or didn’t play in Madison at all.

One thing I’ve really liked is WUD Film’s commitment to use their fall and spring film festivals to target specific kinds of films, and subtly try to make a point with those festivals. Last spring, when there were plenty of articles about how so few female directors get the chance in Hollywood to get behind the camera, WUD responded with the Directress Film Festival, made up entirely of films made by women.

WUD Film engages with the politics of the day even more directly this weekend. We’ve heard lots of angry rhetoric over the past year claiming that some immigrants pose a threat to America, and how certain groups don’t love America as much as others.

WUD is responding with the Hyphenated Americans Film Festival, 11 films from every corner of the American melting pot, screening for free Thursday through Sunday at the Union South Marquee Theatre, 1208 W. Dayton St.. Film is a powerful way to get inside the life of someone different than you and empathize with them, and this weekend’s film festival features a mix of diverse communities and diverse kinds of films.

So I’m planning to do a day-by-day rundown of the films playing in the festival, adding links to previous reviews I’ve written about the films, and even including a couple of new reviews. It’s a festival that’s well worth getting out and supporting.

RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World - Still 1

Link Wray appears in RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Bruce Steinberg.

Thursday, 7 p.m. — “Rumble: The Indians that Rocked the World” — My full review is here. This high-energy documentary looks at how Native Americans provided vital contributions to the growth of rock ‘n’ roll that have often gone overlooked. But where would we be today without guitarist Link Wray, The Band’s Robbie Robertson, or a guitarist of partly Cherokee descent by the name of Jimi Hendrix?

9:30 p.m. — “To Be Takei” — George Takei will be forever known for playing Lt. Sulu on the original “Star Trek,” but late in life he has become an ardent activist for gay rights as well as shining a light on Japanese-American internment during World War II (his family was detained when he was a child). This engaging documentary looks at Takei’s long and eventful life.

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