In Movies & TV

A "Black Mirror" fan? The film festival has a movie for you.

If you like that, you might like this at the 2019 Milwaukee Film Festival

Are you a "Black Mirror" fan? The Milwaukee Film Festival has a movie for you. Addicted to the food documentaries on Netflix? The Milwaukee Film Festival has a movie for you. Obsessed with "Making a Murderer" and all those other true crime stories? Yep, the Milwaukee Film Festival has a movie for you – a few of them, actually.

With more than 300 movies scheduled for the fall film extravaganza, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices. But really, if you're interested in a particular topic or have a taste for a certain genre or type of film, there's guaranteed to be something for you. And to help you find the movie for you, here's a list of recommendations based on genres and other popular films to guide you in the right direction. (And to guide you to buying tickets to one of these phenomenal films, here's the Milwaukee Film Festival website.)

If you liked "Making a Murderer" ...

For you, watching a documentary is just the beginning. Your favorite part is falling down a rabbit hole afterwards. Here are a few movies that'll fuel your new favorite conspiracy theories and send you amateur sleuthing:

"Cold Case Hammarskjöld"

The perfect chase to the MFF alum "The Russian Woodpecker," documentarian and provocateur Mads Brügger tries to uncover the truth behind an unsolved 1961 plane crash that killed United Nations secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld – and somehow ends up learning about mysterious mercenary organizations.

"The Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary"

What starts as a documentary about a dying magician's final tour becomes an investigation into whether the magician is just performing another trick – this one on the filmmaker.

If you like ESPN's "30 for 30" series ...

Who cares about the final score? For you, the best part of the game is the pregame when you find out how these amazing athletes got to the field. Here are a few movies that'll remind you that the drama on the field is merely a part of the story:

"Changing the Game"

A high school wrestler, track runner and skier all take on a battle even bigger and more important than the one on their respective fields as they fight to be treated fairly and equally as transgender athletes.

"Power Meri"

A rough-and-tumble team of powerful trailblazing women form the first women's rugby league team, the PNG Orchids, in rugby-obsessed Papua New Guinea while also fighting the country's sexist, regressive attitudes.

"Q Ball"

Kevin Durant produces this documentary about the San Quentin Prison basketball squad and how the sport helps these men power through the struggles of life in prison – and prepare for the struggles of life after it.


Literally an ESPN production, "Qualified" tells the untold story of Janet Guthrie, who made history in 1977 by becoming for the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500.


"Willie" tells the story of hockey's Jackie Robinson: Willie O'Ree, who broke the game's color barrier in 1958, playing 45 games with the Boston Bruins and over two decades in the minor leagues.

If you liked "20 Feet From Stardom" ...

Loved Morgan Neville's documentary about the background singers who made your favorite songs that much better? Then you'll love these docs about iconic backdrops, the people behind the music and those unsung heroes on the outskirts of their industries:

"The Apollo"

The iconic Harlem theater – home to some of the most iconic performances in live entertainment history and the jumping-off point for some of the world's most famous artists – gets its time in the spotlight in this new doc from the director of MFF alum "Life, Animated."


It may look unassuming, but the Bluebird Cafe is one of the most influential locales in Music City, one of the crucial stops for country music stars on the rise. This doc tells the unassuming Nashville icon's story – complete with performances from Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and other legends.

"Gay Chorus Deep South"

A San Francisco gay men's choir takes a tour through the Deep South in the hopes of entertaining crowds with music and starting a conversation with conservative pastors and the LGBTQ community in troubled territory.

"Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk"

OK, sure, this has nothing to do with music. But this doc takes a similar approach to the golf world, shining a spotlight onto the unheralded caddies who serve as strategists and therapists to their club-swinging stars.

"Mr. Jimmy"

A famed Jimmy Page impersonator in Tokyo gets the spotlight in this doc – as well as the chance to perform for a very special audience member: the real Jimmy Page.

If you like "Chef's Table" or other Netflix food docs ...

Have you watched "Somm" – and all of its sequels? Do you spend more time watching people on TV talk about cooking dinner than actually cooking yourself dinner? Three orders of food docs, coming up:

"A Cherry Tale"

Three wine entrepreneurs set off to create a cherry wine in a southern Denmark castle and turn their unique vino into a viable business in this perfect doc for fans looking for another glass of "Somm."

"Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy"

Diana Kennedy is a culinary legend, a 95-year-old British ex-pat who moved to Mexico and became an expert on the local cuisine and customs, transforming into a kind of culinary stenographer documenting the local cooking practices and generations-old recipes into cookbooks while giving back to the country and the people who've given her so much life and love.

"Setting the Bar: A Craft Chocolate Origin Story"

A group of craft chocolate makers adventure into the Peruvian Amazon to find a rare breed of cacao for their sweet treats – but also find a story about sustainable and responsible farming as well as locals creating an entire industry in a small village. Candy from the vending stand will be required for this one.

If you liked "Pick of the Litter" ...

To you, they're not dogs. They're puppers. They're more a part of your family than your actual family. And you would like to watch more of them on the big screen, please. Here's the movie for you:

"Well Groomed"

Pooches becoming walking art projects in this documentary about the ruff-and-tough world of competitive creative dog grooming, the colorfully fantastical designs gracing the pups' fur and the inspired (or insane) artists behind them.

If you're excited for Scorsese's "The Irishman" ...

Have you already pre-bought your tickets for "The Irishman" despite the movie not having tickets for sale anywhere yet? Impressive – and also here are some other crime sagas that'll keep your appetite for intense action and thrilling drama sated until Scorsese's latest comes out:

"Ash is Purest White"

A convict who took the fall for a crime years ago leaves prison to find a world she doesn't understand anymore in this crime saga from acclaimed Chinese director Zhangke Jia (MFF alum "Mountains May Depart").

"First Love"

Prolific director Takashi Miike's latest crime thriller follows a boxer with a brain tumor and a haunted call girl trying to survive a crazed night of drug smugglers and general action-packed chaos.

"Long Day's Journey into Night"

3-D movies are typically the bane of filmgoers' existence, but "Long Day's Journey Into Night" uses the technique for actual cinematic effect – including an almost hour-long climactic one-take – in this noir-soaked crime story of a man trying to solve the mysteries of a past love lost.


In case it wasn't trouble enough that Nicola is getting involved with the local mafia controlling his neighborhood, he's also falling in love with a local girl causing "Romeo & Juliet"-esque turf war issues as he tries to climb the crime ladder.

"The Whistlers"

In an unusual twist on a heist film, a corrupt police inspector recruits a cast of cohorts that exclusively speak in an indigenous language based on whistling. Chaos obviously ensues.

If you like the classics ...

A fan of older films? Love seeing cinematic icons on the big screen where they belong? A pop culture writer recently shamed on the internet for not liking older movies and want to see what you've been missing? Here are the films for you:

"The Birds"

In this Alfred Hitchcock classic, a small town's residents are horrifyingly attacked by a seemingly unprovoked flock of angry and vicious birds.

If you like seeing all the Oscar nominees ...

Are you the expert at your Academy Awards party every year? Get ahead of the game by seeing these MFF selections before they probably get nominated come this winter:


In this festival favorite – the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival – almost sure to be a player in the Best International Feature Film category this upcoming awards season, unpaid workers take to the ocean to find a better life hopefully on the other side of their voyage. Meanwhile, a romance – and a strange fever – begins to break out back home.

"I Lost My Body"

Every year, amongst the expected big budget names, there's one small animated movie with big creativity and uniquely gorgeous animation. This year, that film might be "I Lost My Body," a peculiar story about a severed hand on the search for its body.

"Marriage Story"

Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") takes a look at another family on the cusp of breaking in this acclaimed drama, starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a married couple struggling to stay together. Expect to see this Netflix production in the Best Picture race as well as several acting categories.


The less you know, the better in director Bong Joon-Ho's ("Snowpiercer," "The Host") latest masterful tightrope walk. Just know that it's about a rich family and a poor family that get intertwined, and that this festival favorite has some serious awards season buzz – from Best Director and Best International Feature Film to even Best Picture.

If you like "Black Mirror" ...

Did you binge all of Netflix's sci-fi anthology – yes, even the mediocre new episodes? Did you try to find every possible ending and story path in "Bandersnatch"? Then you may be a lunatic – and we salute you. We also recommend this festival film, blending the issues of today with the all-too-real vision of the future:

"Divine Love"

In the glowing neon and synth-soaked near future, Brazil is ruled by an evangelical church. But trouble with a married couple causes a bureaucrat to question her faith in the theocratic government she works for.

If you like disaster movies ...

Do the words "directed by Roland Emmerich" get you thrilled? Are "Twister" or "San Andreas" classics in your household? Then amazingly there is a film festival movie for you:

"The Quake"

A geologist treks his way through a rattled skyscraper to save his family after a massive earthquake shakes its foundation to the breaking point in this Norwegian disaster thriller.

If you liked "The Blood is at the Doorstep" ...

Moved by the Milwaukee-made centerpiece documentary "The Blood is at the Doorstep" from 2017? Want to see other movies looking at the issues of today at an intimate, thoughtful and human level? Try out these picks:

"17 Blocks"

20 years of everyday footage paint a picture of real life in America's most dangerous neighborhood: a Washington D.C. neighborhood located a mere 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol building.

"Cooked: Survival By Zip Code"

Using the 1995 Chicago heat wave as key evidence, documentarian Judith Helfand takes a look at economic disparity, segregation, climate change and a horrific hypothesis: Can your zip code really determine if you're at greater risk of a deadly weather phenomenon?

"The Hottest August"

Another visual mosaic in the vein of last year's Oscar-nominated MFF alum "Hale County, This Morning This Evening," capturing a time and place – in this case New York City in August of 2017, with temperatures rising and tensions even more so after the election.

If you liked "The Witch" ...

Want to spend Halloween with the Milwaukee Film Festival? Did you see both versions of "Midsommar" this summer? Are you sold on a new horror movie just by seeing an A24 logo in the trailer? If you answered yes to any of those questions, these are the movies for you:

"The Field"

A city couple movies into a Sconnie farm only to find much more than just cows and chickens lurking around. Indeed, something haunted and angry is wrong in this small town in this creepy horror thriller that might just cut a little close to home considering it takes place in Wisconsin. (Gulp.)

"In Fabric"

A shopping trip goes awry when a woman purchases a killer dress in this throwback giallo horror experience from renowned writer-director Peter Strickland ("The Duke of Burgundy").

"The Lodge"

A young woman's trip to a cabin with her new fiancee and his icy kids takes a turn when their dad leaves them tensely alone in the midst of an imprisoning snow storm keeps them locked inside together. Plus, the kids are finding out more about their potential new stepmom's troubled past.

"The Wind"

A frontierswoman on a lonely 1800s Midwest plain feels an evil presence arriving through the ground – and the suspicious new neighbors on the nearby farm aren't making her feel any better about her solitude on the wind-burnt countryside.

If you like docs on unusual topics ...

Do you believe reality is indeed stranger than fiction? Or, to be more specific: Did you watch that flat earthers documentary on Netflix? Here are a bunch of docs about oddball topics that you didn't even know you needed to know about:

"The Good, The Bad, The Hungry"

A documentary not for those with an empty stomach, "The Good, The Bad, The Hungry" digs into the famous Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, the mighty contestants who compete and the even mightier appetites that fuel them.

"Mr. Leather"

Five men from the warm yet wild Brazilian fetish community duke it out for the title of champion of the second annual Mr. Leather competition in this leather-clad doc.

"Red, White and Wasted"

A deep dive into the bizarre world of the Redneck Yacht Club, aka a mudding community made up of "Florida Man" headlines. But there's more than meets the bloodshot eye here.


"Stuffed" digs into the misunderstood world of taxidermy, investigating the methods behind the seeming madness, reclaiming it as an impressive combination of art and science, and showing that its fascinating subjects are just as concerned with these animals' lives as they are in their deaths.

"Who Let the Dogs Out"

It's exactly what it sounds like: a documentary about the origins of the infamous one-hit wonder "Who Let the Dogs Out," a story with more depth and details than you'd expect.

If you liked "Best of Enemies" ...

No, not the Sam Rockwell/Taraji P. Henson civil rights movie from this summer that you already forgot about – the 2015 Gore Vidal versus William F. Buckley documentary. It's really good! If you haven't seen it, you should; it's on Hulu. And then after you're done, you should check out these new docs about the news and the people behind it.

"Mike Wallace Is Here"

Legendary newsman and "60 Minutes" host Mike Wallace takes his turn as the subject as this documentary learns about what made the reporter tick, his famous interrogation tactics, how he changed the art of broadcast journalism and what today's TV news could learn from one of its key progenitors.

"Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins"

A profile on Molly Ivins, an icon of journalism who broke into the male-dominated world of local and national news during the '70s, bringing a new voice and a new focus on injustice, inequality and hypocrisy.

"Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project"

"Recorder" details a unique anthropological project – more than three decades of television news and commercials recorded across hundreds of VHS tapes, revealing how the news and how culture changed over the years – and the unique woman behind all the recordings.

If you like movies about movies ...

Love taking a peak behind the curtain and seeing how the movies are made? Or perhaps you find the stories behind the camera just as fascinating as the ones in front of it? Here are the films for you:

"Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound"

The perfect spiritual sequel to the MFF alum "Score: A Film Music Documentary," "Making Waves" looks into the artistry behind how movies sound as good as they look by talking to some of cinema's living greats – Lynch, Spielberg and many more.

"Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street"

What should've been a dream role in a huge horror sequel turns into a nightmare for actor Mark Patton in this doc about "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2," homophobia and being haunted by something much more real than a blade-handed monster man.

"You Don't Nomi"

"Showgirls" started as a high-profile embarrassment, an expensive script that turned into a laugh-inducing NC-17 melodrama that bombed at the box office. Decades later, however, the movie's found an audience that loves it. See this doc on the film's reclamation, then stick around after on Saturday, Oct. 19 to see "Showgirls" for yourself.

If you liked "Free Solo" ...

Did you love last year's Best Documentary winner? Here are the docs for you – featuring all the beautiful natural vistas but without the vertigo!

"The River and the Wall"

This documentary combines the breathtaking nature photography of "Free Solo" and other National Geographic productions with the message of an issue doc, adventuring through gorgeous rivers, desert plains and mountainous regions near the U.S./Mexico border to see the true impact of a border wall could be on the natural habitat.

"The Weight of Water"

Erik Weihenmayer insists on kayaking through the wild whitewater rapids of the Colorado River – even though he's blind, making the voyage even more dangerous.

If you liked "Winter's Bone" ...

Loved Debra Granik's 2009 star-making Best Picture nominee about life in poverty in the rust belt? Steer yourself toward this pick:

"Them That Follow"

A young women finds herself battling her father's small-town Pentecostal rule – which involves a whole lot of snakes – after discovering she's pregnant with a local rebel's child.

If you liked "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" ...

Do you like gorgeously shot, operatic martial arts epics that are thrilling to look at whether people are slashing at each other with blades or merely talking? Here's the movie for you:


Intrigue in an ancient Chinese court turns violent when the king and his military leader use dangerous secrets – not to mention bladed umbrellas – to win battles against their enemies and each other.

If you liked "Beasts of the Southern Wild/of No Nation" ...

Like gorgeously shot, cinematic stories of young folks navigating war? Oddly specific request – but here's an oddly specific recommendation:


This Academy Award submission from Colombia follows a troop of child soldiers watching over a hostage until their seemingly simple mission sends them lost into a jungle – and lost in "Lord of the Flies"-esque madness.


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