Marquee Film Festival, Day 2: “I Believe in Unicorns” and “Mistress America”


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 for a full schedule and other info, and check back here Saturday and Sunday for more previews.

Continue reading

Looking forward to the 2015 Sundance Film Festival


Last January, at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, I was at the second screening ever of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” which has gone on to top critics’ best-of lists, and, perhaps more surprisingly, be a serious contender at this year’s Oscars. I missed the festival’s opening-night film, “Whiplash,” which has also gone onto a lot of Oscar attention.

Also at that festival, I was one of about 100 people crammed into a room for a discussion on digital storytelling, which included the world premiere of a new show for the then-fledgling Amazon Prime Video. That show was “Transparent,” which went on to also top critics’ best-of lists and win Golden Globes last week for Best Comedy/Musical Show and Actor.

The idea that the Sundance Film Festival is a hothouse for precious indie films destined to wither away once they hit the cold cruel world of the marketplace doesn’t seem so valid anymore.

Continue reading