Jeramey Jannene
MKE Film

Announcing the Milwaukee-Made Films

'Give Me Liberty' headlines strong list of films slated for Milwaukee Film Festival.

By - Sep 20th, 2019 08:56 am
Lauren Spencer, Steve Wolski as a disabled passenger and Chris Galust as the driver in “Give Me Liberty.” Photo from Music Box Films.

Lauren Spencer, Steve Wolski as a disabled passenger and Chris Galust as the driver in “Give Me Liberty.” Photo from Music Box Films.

We’re less than a month from the 2019 Milwaukee Film Festival, and with that, a movie-watching binge where you can spend 15 days watching over 300 different films and eating way too much popcorn.

With so many options it can be paralyzing to decide what to see, but allow us to suggest something local. The Cream City Cinema program features a host of Milwaukee-made films ranging from feature-length productions like Give Me Liberty (our review) and The Field to shorts compilations including the three “Milwaukee Shows” and The Milwaukee Music Video Show.

The complete schedule, including individual showtimes, will be released on September 26th at Good City Brewing, but you can get a sneak peek below. The 11th annual Milwaukee Film Festival runs from October 17th through 31st.

Urban Milwaukee members will be eligible to claim free tickets to each of the screenings after the schedule is released. Join today.

The Cream City Cinema series is sponsored by former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford, UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts Film Department, WUWM and Urban Milwaukee.

The Lineup

Black Licorice

USA | 2019 | Director: Frankie Latina
A fashion photographer is thrown into a world of danger when a roll of film produces images no one was meant to see in this high-society crime film, reminiscent of a 1970s exploitation thriller. From MFF alum director Frankie Latina with a stellar cast led by Danny Trejo and the late Kumar Pallana, this highly anticipated and locally shot film is overflowing with fast-paced action, fashion, and intrigue, as well as many recognizable locations and faces.


USA | 1997 | Director: Mark Borchardt
No good deed goes unpunished for Milwaukee native Mark Borchardt, who wrote, directed, and starred as Mike, a writer with severe drug and alcohol problems. Mike finally seeks help in the form of a support group, but soon realizes he’s unwittingly joined a demonic cult. Imagine Midsommar, but with a distinctly Wisconsin setting and black-and-white cinematography that evokes the creepier side of our natural landscapes. This local cult classic will be projected in a 35mm print from the director’s own collection, followed by an extended Q&A.

The Field

USA | 2019 | Director: Tate Bunker
A city couple buys a farm in rural Wisconsin, but Green Acres this is not, as someone (or something) appears to be lurking in the shadows of their new home. What is their small town covering up? And can they—and their marriage—survive it? Multiyear MFF alum director Tate Bunker returns just in time for the Halloween season with this PG-13-level spooky tale, joined by a parade of local faces, plus Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Veronica Cartwright (Alien).

Give Me Liberty

USA | 2019 | Director: Kirill Mikhanovsky
Medical transport driver Vic is running further and further behind schedule, as he shuttles his Russian grandfather and émigré friends to a funeral, navigates closed roads, and also befriends one of his clients, Tracy (Lauren “Lolo” Spencer in a breakout performance), a vibrant young woman with ALS. This locally made Sundance/Cannes indie darling returns to Milwaukee in an encore homecoming tour, showcasing a hilarious, compassionate portrait of American dreams and disenchantment.

Markie in Milwaukee

USA | 2019 | Director: Matt Kliegman
Markie is a middle-aged trans woman living in Milwaukee and struggling to find acceptance in her family, her church, and herself. As she fights to hold onto those she loves, she begins to consider de-transitioning to be accepted back into her community. Shot over ten years, this honest and human doc shines an empathetic light on aging, the complexities of gender, and the journey of finding one’s path in the world.

Mouth Harp in Minor Key: Hamid Naficy in/on Exile (Zanboorak dar Gaame Minor)

USA | 2017 | Director: Maryam Sepehri
Hamid Naficy is a film scholar at Northwestern University who is also in exile from his home country of Iran. With the experiences of living there before and after the Iranian revolution, Naficy offers a unique perspective on his experiences living in multiple cultures. This personal and powerful doc from MFF alum Maryam Sepehri that tells Naficy’s story with grace and candor and provides an eye-opening view into bicultural identity in our globalized world.

My First and Last Film

USA | 2019 | Director: Tracey Thomas
When filmmaker Tracey Thomas turned 60 she began interviewing dozens of other 60-year-olds, discussing themes of life, death, love, the afterlife, and more. But when her romantic and filmmaking partner, Dennis, passes away suddenly, Thomas’s work took on a much deeper meaning as she grappled with grief while continuing her project. This sensitive and deeply personal film, featuring many local subjects, ruminates on love and loss and the power of film to explore the most unanswerable of questions.

On Hands

USA | 2019 | Director: Laj P. Waghray
As technology overtakes more and more of society it’s easy to forget that one of the most powerful tools people have are their hands. Contemplative and observational, On Hands follows the work of a variety of makers who use their hands to create, offering a unique experience they could not achieve otherwise. This meditative doc from MFF alum Laj P. Waghray examines the quiet power of hands and the beauty of what they can create.


USA | 2019 | Director: Joel Van Haren
In 2014, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond was attacked and robbed, losing the one-of-a-kind Lipinski Stradivarius violin—worth an estimated $5 million—that was on loan to him. The FBI and Milwaukee’s finest raced against the clock, because they knew if the instrument was moved it was likely gone forever. While regaling us with the story of this infamous local heist, Plucked explores both the people who steal priceless art, and the irreplaceable instrument itself.

Red, White & Wasted

USA | 2019 | Director: Matthew Burns
The Redneck Yacht Club is Florida’s premiere social group for mudding and is also a center of Confederate flags, alcohol, racism, and scantily clad twerking. This provocative doc, edited in Milwaukee, follows one of these mudding-obsessed Floridians as he navigates the world he loves, and ultimately learns about himself in the process. Red, White & Wasted is a surprisingly honest and human window into racism, classism, and one of the forgotten corners of our country.

The Milwaukee Show

The cream of the local crop (one of the hottest tickets of the festival each year) comes together for a curated evening that puts the spotlight on our wildly creative filmmaking scene. Be it documentary, experimental, animated, or otherwise, you’ll want to be there to see their work on the big screen of the Oriental Theatre’s main house!

The Milwaukee Show: After Dark

Years spent basting local filmmaking brains in the filth that is our Best Damn F*#@ing Midnight Program Ever. Sh*t. shorts program has yielded this – a relentless journey into the frightening and funny, wacky, WTF weirdness cooked up by local filmmakers. Don’t bring your kids. Don’t bring any kids.

The Milwaukee Music Video Show

Right at the intersection of music and film comes this special program highlighting the wildly creative videos created in support of a diverse group of local artists (Zed Kenzo, Surgeons In Heat, Saebra & Carlyle, and more).

The Milwaukee Youth Show

The next generation of filmmakers showcase their work in this program, featuring short films made by 18-and-under filmmakers. You’ll be able to say you knew them before they were famous when you come out to support the greater Milwaukee area’s brightest young filmmakers with this celebratory program.

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