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Saturday, October 1, 2011

MFF - Milwaukee Show

We had not one but two World Wide Dirt correspondents at the Milwaukee Show, Milwaukee Film Fest's locally made shorts program. With utmost journalistic integrity they sat together in the balcony cracking stupid jokes to each other between films, then went to Landmark Lanes afterward to exploit their press passes for free beer and got drunk with most of the people who made the movies. There was free cigarettes, movie talk, pats on the back, flirtations, someone sang "Georgia On My Mind" in the Karaoke corner, someone put a half dozen Yes songs on the jukebox. WWD correspondents Dirt and Guy gritted their teeth and observed the films and the party through cool observational glares. This is their story.


Don’t Go explores the complexities of loneliness. Very few actors, meticulously shot, it gave a lot in a short amount of time.

Lisa Danker was my teacher for one of my classes last year. Naturally I was a shitty student and hardly went. When I did go I always noticed how thoughtful she was, it’s no surprise that her film Please Remember Me, a family memory tale told through old letters and photos, was thoughtful, well put together, and nostalgic.

Secrets Of Animal Navigation was a pretty zany magazine cutout animation.

Missed Connections was a beautifully shot, stylistic short film. I’m excited to see what these ladies do in the future. Side note: the ladies that directed this film helped out on pretty much everything at the showcase. bam!

Anima Mundi - I was worried that i might have a seizure. I didn't though.

Everyday was actually my favorite piece at the Milwaukee Showcase. At first there was a lot of tension because I didn't want to be surprised by seeing some wound I wasn't expecting, I didn't want to be that close to someone I didn't know. After a little while however I realized the subject was trying to save their own life through a course of medical adjustments. By the end I wasn't afraid of what was coming next, I was rooting for someone who was paying attention to things that most people take for granted, the function of their body. This one will have ole Sean thinking for a long time.

Documenting Westphal - You know the old phrase “You made your bed now lay in it”? Well, lay man, lay.

Momento Mori - Some day the two Sean Williamsons and Max Williamson will all get together and have a non family Williamson party. Max is a great actor collecting a lot work around these parts. Keep an eye on that curly headed maniac.


I couldn't believe the ambition of the fiction narrative shorts. They all looked amazing and they all tried something daring. The Tim Burton-esque style of The Wheel, the special effects, and art direction and just the gall to introduce and then dramatize a whole fantasy world in 13 minutes, is all evidence of insanity and extreme talent on the part of the filmmakers. Missed Connections and Memento Mori were also tiny fantasy epics.  Connections was something like an experimental romantic comedy/musical with about a dozen lead characters in as many minutes, just frenetic but paced with Busby Berkley dance numbers. Memento Mori did what anyone with limited resources for a film would do, a turn of the century period fable about black magic. A kid wrote it, for real. Only in America.

My favorite fiction short, though, was the least extravagant.  Don't Go was simple and genuine. It was the only one of the fiction pieces that could have been made without everyone in Milwaukee film hearing about it. It felt like someone just up and did it, which probably isn't the case. Two actors, one apartment, original story. Novel. See it if ever you can.

UWM has probably the best experimental film school in the country and you could tell from the two experimental shorts shown, Anima Mundi and Secrets of Animal Navigation.  Mundi was a 4 minute kaleidoscopic montage of thousands and thousands of flower photographs and my eyes felt like Dave Bowman's at the end of 2001. Secrets of Animal Navigation was a wild mix of puppetry, found art, collage, and animation. It had probably my favorite score of the night, a non-stop jazz drum solo from the drummer of The Fatty Acids.

All the docs were good, of course. Documenting Westphal was painful in a way that I'm not sure I've ever seen in another movie, in a way that is only possible in the documentary field, where a piece relies on the relationship between author and subject.

Everyday was so close to it's subject she felt both intimate and alien. It seems in recollection to be almost all close-up on parts of her body, long shots in which the mind is allowed to wander, to compare this body with the ones you know, the pump in her chest to other cancer treatments you may have seen in your life.

Please Remember Me was the most journalistic of the documentaries, concerning the political imprisonment of filmmaker Lisa Danker's grandfather that began in revolutionary Cuba and lasted almost thirty years. It's investigative, but most of the investigation concerns the emotions of the family involved and they are thoroughly unearthed. Silly note: I loved the photographs placed on a tablecloth (maybe a dress?) backdrop, it's so easy and so cool to do the slow zoom or pan on a scanned photo, but refreshing to see photos that are real, concrete artifacts.

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