UWM Union Theatre ushers in a new season of film
How easy it is to be blind to wonders that sit right in front of you—UW-Milwaukee’s Union Theatre, a prime example. UWM is home to the oldest operating on-campus movie theater in the country, a Milwaukee gem discreetly hidden on the second floor of the Union. With a new program manager at the ready and an impressive fall film line-up, though, hopefully this asset to the local film community will garner the recognition it deserves.
Brian McGuire, a current graduate student in UWM’s film program, says he couldn’t be more excited to take on all that his new position as program manager entails—with one of his main goals being to raise awareness and visibility of the theater to the campus population and surrounding communities.
“I want to continue the high standards that the previous programmers have set, and if I can even move those up a little higher, that would be a dream come true,” said McGuire. “[The] goal [of myself and the rest of the Union Theatre’s staff] is to get the physical presence of the theater out there…we can get the public to realize we’ve got this fantastic movie theater with films that are only playing here.”
McGuire pursued the program manager opening with gusto, and speaks about the upcoming film season with passion, admiration and appreciation. He trained in May with the former program manager Ross Nugent, who did much to heighten the theater’s profile over the years with an array of independent, foreign language and art films that otherwise would never have screened in Milwaukee. McGuire’s first order of business was to begin crafting the fall 2011 line-up, which proved to be no easy task. But he was up to the challenge.
He scoured the Internet, using other film festival line-ups for inspiration in creating a season that would best suit a Milwaukee audience. A Utah native, McGuire says has attended the Sundance Film Festival (held in Park City) every year since 1996 and drew on that experience to help create an eclectic selection of films.
Though naming a favorite film can be a difficult task because, as McGuire says, “there are just so many,” there are a few standouts on the docket. McGuire is especially excited about Jess + Moss, Tyrannosaur, and City of Life and Death— all of which are Milwaukee premieres. Many of the films showing this fall are not slated for wide release, so catching them at the UWM Union Cinema may be your only chance.
“More than likely [the Milwaukee premiere films] will not be playing anywhere else…for instance, The Interrupters, which is likely to be nominated for an Oscar. It’s only playing one night, and most likely nowhere else,” said McGuire. “I worked hard to get that film, and I’m pretty excited about that—there’s already a lot of early buzz.”
This fall, there are 19 Milwaukee premiere films showing at the Union Theatre, including Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, the late-night talk show host’s road trip documentary, Jean-Luc Godard’s latest project Film Socialisme, and Armadillo, a documentary about a group of Danish soldiers in Afghanistan. And that’s just to name a few.
“Armadillo is a spectacular documentary … but it’s shot to look like a fiction film. It’s a little bit blurry, because it’s completely documentary and the filmmakers make no moral stance; they just shoot what’s there, the terror, the craziness,” said McGuire. “The line is blurred—it’s so beautiful…it’s frightening, because it’s so real, but you get lost in that fantasy land for a while until you realize, ‘Oh my God, this really happened.’”
Did I mention that most of the screenings are free? While the average movie ticket will run you about $10 these days, film screenings at UWM are mostly free, and if not, pretty cheap. Students pay a measly $4, or $6 for the general public for certain films.
With the films selected by McGuire’s fine-tuned eye and the reoccurring experimental and international film festivals that also show at UWM’s Union Theatre, students, staff and community members alike are in for quite the viewing treat.
For more information and to view the fall line-up, visit the UWM Union Theatre’s website.