In Movies & TV

A sea captain battles a monster in Lake Michigan in ... "Lake Michigan Monster," one of this year's Cream City Cinema selections.

Milwaukee Film Festival unveils its 2018 Cream City Cinema picks

While we're a week away from seeing the complete schedule – Thursday, Sept. 27 at Good City Brewing, mark the date! – the Milwaukee Film Festival has already announced several big-name national features, from the new Christian Petzold ("Transit") to a buzzy new drama starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James ("Little Woods"), and a trifecta of Oscar winners (Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and director Asghar Farhadi) packed into the Spotlight Selection mystery "Everybody Knows."

But the Milwaukee Film Festival also never forgets the first word in its name, the place it calls home, and nowhere is that more apparent than with its Cream City Cinema category, featuring films of all sizes, genres and age created by locals and/or about locals.

Today the fall cinema spectacular announced its diverse lineup for this year's program, featuring world several premieres, dozens upon dozens of intriguing short films and also a monster movie. (And that's all not even including "Back at the Staircase," "The First Patient" and "Pet Names," popular titles from Wisconsin natives found in other festival categories.)

Here's the picks for this year's Cream City Cinema category.

"Invisible Lines"

88Nine Radio Milwaukee's acclaimed web series makes the leap from the computer screen to the big screen in this locally-made documentary, sharing frank conversations from participants across the city and across the economic, racial and gender spectrum about the place we call home.

"Lake Michigan Monster"

Heard of the Lake Michigan Monster? I haven't either – but in this absurdist, black-and-white, classic monster movie-inspired Cream City Cinema selection, a kooky sea captain takes to the waters with a motley crew to find and hunt the aquatic beast.

"This Little Light"

"This Little Light" shines a light on the enraging yet inspiring story of Wendi Moore-O'Neal, a Black Feminist organizer who loses her job after she marries her wife due to her non-profit employer's homophobic rules.

"Riverwest Film & Video"

Blockbuster may have died, but it didn't take every video rental store with it (no matter how hard it tried). Riverwest Film & Video still survives, a haven for film fans looking for a new movie to watch as well as filmmakers needing equipment for their latest project. And now this small gem will receive the big-screen treatment in this documentary, paying tribute to the owner and the patrons that keep it rolling.


In this incredible true story, Capt. Lance Peter Sijan crash-lands during a mission over Laos, leaving him behind enemy lines in the harsh jungle for 45 days without food or water – and miraculously survived to earn the Medal of Honor.

"Yen Ching"

This locally produced documentary follows a Chinese-American family as the clan's patriarch hopes to pass on the Chinese restaurant that gives the film its name – only to see his sons all pass, seeking out their own versions of the American dream instead of following the traditional, expected path.

"The Milwaukee Music Video Show"

The Milwaukee Music Video Show brings together the city's finest collaborations between its growing, talent-filled local music scene and some of its best burgeoning filmmakers. The result is a treat for the ears and the eyes. Here are the 13 picks for this year's edition:

  • Amanda Huff, "Gravetalking"
  • Bruise Violet, "Nightmare"
  • Calliope, "Sea of Red"
  • DelMar the Poet, "The Burial"
  • King Courteen, "Bucker Boy"
  • L. Martin, "Skipping Rocks"
  • La Armada, "Fire"
  • Mini Meltdown, "Number On Me"
  • Ms. Lotus Fankh, "Knowledge"
  • Platinum Boys, "Lord Knows"
  • Von Alexander, "Demons"
  • Willy Porter, "There's Something Growing"
  • Xposed 4Heads, "System Overload"

"The Milwaukee Show I"

Every year, The Milwaukee Show shorts program serves as one of the best ways to see some of the city's finest filmmakers in fun-sized, genre-jumping servings. Here are 2018's selections:

  • "Brothers" (directed by Sheyam Ghieth and Emmett Jack Lundberg)
  • "The Chase Key" (directed by Dan Boville)
  • "Grandma Charlotte" (directed by Andrew Swant)
  • "Hounds of Love" (directed by Nolan Kresnak)
  • "Three Neighborhoods: People, Place, Purpose" (directed by Adam Carr and Wes Tank)
  • "Through the Eye Root" (directed by Vincent Maslowski)
  • "The Water Will Carry Us Home" (directed by Gabrielle Tesfaye)

"The Milwaukee Show II"

It's an idea so nice, the Milwaukee Film Festival had to do it twice. Indeed, there's just too much filmmaking talent in the Brew City for one night to hold, so that's why there's The Milwaukee Show II, featuring even more fun-sized shorts from some of Cream City's brightest future filmmakers. Here's this year's roster of picks:

  • "A Wake Before Mourning" (directed by Jens Rhude)
  • "Alice's Garden" (directed by Jenny Plevin)
  • "El Color de la Libertad" (directed by Mikal Floyd-Pruitt and Wes Tank)
  • "Dislocation Blues" (directed by Sky Hopinka)
  • "Marie" (directed by Katie Theel)
  • "Meet Uncle Paul" (directed by Jessica Bursi)
  • "Preset" (directed by Parker Gayan)
  • "The Same Prison Bars" (directed by Joseph Garcia-Menocal)

"The Milwaukee Youth Show"

If you think Milwaukee's cinema scene is looking bright, just wait until you see what the kids of Cream City have been up to. The Milwaukee Youth Show showcases some of the finest works – spanning and defying all genres – from some of the city's youngest cinephiles. Here's this year's lineup:

  • "A Modern Valentine's Day" (directed by Chloe Ullenberg, Mitchell Jakubowski and Katie Koehler)
  • "Attraper des Gemmes" (directed by Bria Smith, Brian Le, Alyssa Cunningham and Leilah Covington)
  • "Balance Beam" (directed by Leean Le)
  • "Cops and Robbers" (directed by Jay Chontal)
  • "Crescendo" (directed by Malcolm Ramirez)
  • "Dreams Tonight" (directed by Gavin Portilo, Brayden Lemke and Angie Carchesi)
  • "Drink Up" (directed by TJ Khampane)
  • "Escuela Verde's Queer Collective: Exploring the Intersectionality of the QPOC Existence" (directed by Angelo Alvarez)
  • "Incarnate" (directed by Clayton Allen)
  • "Keys" (directed by Harrison Hanneman)
  • "ONE" (directed by Kyen Ditzenberger and Gabe Brusky)
  • "Respect in Representation" (directed by Tori Frank and Elena Gonzalez Clark)
  • "Shoes" (directed by Wyatt Chang)
  • "The Chamber of Labor: Hamlet" (directed by Sergio Sandoval)
  • "This Is America" (directed by Bria Smith, Aya Fares and Kaye Meyer)
  • "We All Bleed Red" (directed by Jacob Young)

The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival will run from Oct. 18 through Nov. 1. For more information on tickets and passes, visit Milwaukee Film's website. And to catch the entire schedule, grab a program book beginning next Thursday!


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