Jon Anne Willow

The Milwaukee Show!

By - Oct 1st, 2010 04:00 am

“Death of Triforce”, a music documentary shot at The Vault in March, screens in the Milwaukee Show.

It’s impressive that the 2010 Milwaukee Film Festival boasts almost 200 titles from around the world. It’s impressive that the whole family can learn about media literacy and enjoy high quality, age-appropriate cinema in the Take One Children’s Film Festival. And it’s pretty cool that there are two juried prizes for fiction and documentary film worth a total of $5,000.

But for some of us, that’s all secondary to our favorite night of film-gazing all year: The Milwaukee Show.

This event has been around in one form or another for seven years or so now. I remember being Tate Bunker’s “date” in 2004, when his first feature film, Yellow Light, screened in the center theater at the Oriental (he was so nervous that his hands were sweaty the whole time). He won the big prize (then worth $15,000), and used it to produce Starlite, which in 2006 won him Best Cinematography at the Paris Film Festival. Now he’s made over 30 films, working with hundreds of local folks along the way in every capacity from actor and crew to caterer to nice old couple in Menomonee Falls with acres of land to lend.

Speaking of lending… Last year my fiancé and I co-produced a feature film called New Day. When our camera’s firestore died on our biggest shooting day, Frankie Latina, who we’d never met, lent us his. That September, his current festival circuit hit, Modus Operandi, premiered at the first Milwaukee Film Festival, just weeks after New Day premiered at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival. Both films featured actor Michael Sottile, purveyor of the former Lemon Lounge on Oakland. New Day also featured Emily Heitzer, who plays the hot love interest, Carol, in Milwaukee Film’s 2010 sponsor trailer. TCD is a sponsor.

Yes, Milwaukee is a small world, full of even smaller worlds, of which the film community is just one. But I’d argue that there are about two degrees of separation between that particular world and every single person within thirty miles of here. From the volunteers who give up their weekends to play unbilled extras in crowd scenes to the writers, directors, shooters and crew, to all the businesses and individuals that cater to and support productions, this scene is quietly massive. Even if you don’t actively make movies in Milwaukee, I bet you can connect yourself to Kevin Bacon, or at least Mark Metcalf, in less than six degrees.

So it’s no surprise that when six homegrown films are competing for $25,000 in cash and prizes (two are ineligible), thousands of well-wishers are going to show up to root for their own. That happens this Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre, and you’ll want to be there. The Milwaukee Show is the closest thing we have to a local Oscar night, only with beer in plastic cups and sweaty filmmakers in awkward jackets. That said, you’re bound to see something memorable in this evening’s program, and likely to see someone you know on the big screen, or at least in the credits. And that’s pretty cool.

Total running time: 120 min
Saturday, Oct 2, 5:00 p.m. Oriental Theatre

The Death of Triforce—Anthony Lopez, Jon Salimes
The Funeral—Iverson White
Honey-Colored Boy—Fran Kaplan
Kids in Trees—Sean Kafer
A King in Milwaukee—Nicole Brown, Brad Lichtenstein
Mickey Burgermeister—Tate Bunker
Spare Change—Aaron Greer
This is Umberto—Anna Krutzik

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