In Movies & TV

There's a dog under all of that somewhere.

Agnes Varda and dog grooming on deck in MKE Film Festival's Art & Artists picks

It's been downpouring lately – and no, I'm not talking about the weather. It's been raining Milwaukee Film Festival announcements, as the annual fall extravaganza has dropped a deluge of cinematic selections for its upcoming 2019 edition coming next month – including some outstanding retrospective picks, a pile of genre movies worth geeking out about and some championship-level sports docs and films.

And the forecast calls for some more announcements, as the festival announced yet another program of must-see selections – this time a dozen picks from the Art & Artists category, which focuses on showcasing artists and their work in a variety of fields and a variety of ways.

"Because we know that Milwaukee cares deeply about art and the creatives behind it, we are thrilled to present this showcase of films exploring the work of visual, literary and performing artists," said Cara Ogburn, Milwaukee Film Festival Director, in a release. "This year's program of course includes films on well-known artists like David Hockney and Toni Morrison, but also asks audiences to consider less canonical moments of creative expression, whether in street fashion or creative dog grooming."

To learn more about creative dog grooming and more, here's the twelve Art & Artists selections you'll be lined up to see this fall at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

"Beyond the Visible – Hilma af Klint"

Swedish artist Hilma at Klint was a groundbreaking artist for her work in abstract painting. Yet despite her beautiful and expectation-shattering pieces, her work was not considered legitimate art in the canon. "Beyond the Visible" goes beyond a simple artist's story into how an artist's legacy could be covered up, reclaiming her place in the history of painting and paying tribute to the female artists that were left out of the stories they helped write.

"A Bigger Splash"

Finally made available in the States just this year, this groundbreaking 1974 blend of documentary and fiction follows painter David Hockney as he deals with his breakup with his longtime partner and its effect on his art and his emotional state.

"If the Dancer Dances"

In 1968, choreographer Merce Cunningham put on the groundbreaking modern dance piece "RainForest." Now, more than half a century later, it's returning to the stage as choreographer Stephen Petronio leads a new group of incredible dancers into recreating the iconic work, as this doc goes inside the world of dance and the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that go into making something beautiful.

"Jay Myself"

Not a movie for clean freaks – Marie Kondo, hide your eyes – "Jay Myself" follows artist and photographer Jay Maisel as he digs through decades and 36,000 square feet of trinkets, memorabilia and just plain stuff as he prepares to sell his Manhattan building. The result is a trip through memory lane via a lovable mess.

"N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear"

With the help of breathtaking photography and beautiful animation, "N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear" brings the lauded, Pulitzer-winning author's work to cinematic life, discussing his own life as well as the origins and history that helped form him, his art and others.

"The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion"

The people behind the style of the stylish world of hip hop – notably Misa Hylton and April Walker – take center stage in this documentary about the intertwined universes of fashion and hip-hop, as viewed by two women constantly working to bring them together.

"Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am"

Pay tribute to the late, great poet and writer with "The Pieces I Am," a documentary about Morrison's life and ineffable art – work that earned her both a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Peace Prize – filmed prior to her death last month. A film about her life as well as her work, a film about herself but also about African-American artists as a whole, "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am" is a fitting and informative final bow.

"Varda by Agnes"

For her final completed film before her untimely death, cinematic legend and French New Wave icon Agnes Varda turns her camera toward a topic most worthy of her lens: herself. Part reflection, part memoir, all fitting tribute to a remarkable artist and her art, "Varda by Agnes" is an unconventional and thoughtful goodbye that only she could create.

"Vision Portraits"

One might think that losing one's sight would mean losing one's ability to make art in a visual medium. One would be wrong, as "Vision Portraits" follows filmmaker Rodney Evans as he chats with three visually impaired artists – a photographer, a writer and a dancer – about their lives and their art while he copes with his own deteriorating eyesight.

"Well Groomed"

You see the header image on this article? There's a dog underneath all of that color and fluff – and a story underneath it all as well. That's the task of "Well Groomed," a documentary about the ruff-and-tough world of competitive creative dog grooming, the fantastical designs gracing these pooches' fur and the inspired – and inspirational – artists behind them.

"Zia Anger: My First Film"

Zia Anger's first film may have a pretty generic and expected name – "Zia Anger: My First Film" – but there's nothing generic or expected about this Milwaukee Film Festival experience as the artist combines on-screen storytelling, live performance and artistic conversation into one truly unique theatrical experience about reflecting on one's art.


To help escape his rough path, young Cuban teen Carlos is signed up for ballet. But when it turns out he has a real skill for dance, rising to fame across the globe, Carlos struggles not only with the steps of the gorgeous yet grueling choreography but with maintaining his identity worlds away from home.

Stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more Milwaukee Film Festival updates – including the full book release on Sept. 26. And get ready to live off of movies and popcorn when the festival hits on Oct. 17-31.


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