Showcases filmmakers’ range
job to spotlight the boundaries of cinematic storytelling.”
The festival, which runs Sept. 28–Oct. 12, also has made significant strides in the area of virtual reality — VR for short. A dedicated VR Gallery is located around the corner from the Oriental Theatre, with free admission to the public.
The films shown in the VR gallery demonstrate the power of this immersive new technology,
“We had done VR displays at previous festivals, but this year there’s a physical pop-up shop devoted to the technology,” says Jackson, a Cleveland native and former filmmaker who moved to Milwaukee in 1998 to attend UWM’s film school. “There will be different types of hardware that people can try, including headsets that replicate the full 360-degree experience.”
This is not a mere video-game experience, Jackson explains. In The Fight for Fallujah, viewers will find themselves alongside Iraqi forces battling ISIS rebels to regain the city. The film contains actual battle footage.
“I’m interested in social reality aspects that allow viewers to immerse themselves in situations they never otherwise would experience,” Jackson explains. “The ability to experience an actual battle with a 360-degree view might cause someone to think twice before going to war.”
Stumped, which opens the festival, ably demonstrates film’s ability to connect us with others. The 2017 documentary — a full-length expansion of a previously made short — tells the story of Will Lautzenheiser, a Montana State University film teacher who contracted a bacterial infection that required doctors to amputate all or part of his four limbs to save his life. Lautzenheiser tackled his trauma head-on by becoming a stand-up comedian, a career move that reveals the man’s truly indomitable spirit.
Another is Manifesto, a 2017 German film in which Cate Blanchett portrays 13 characters — from a puck rocker to a housewife. The manifestos, taken from throughout history, range from Karl Marx to Jim Jarmusch in Blanchett’s tour-de-force performance.
Films have been arranged into multiple categories that stress content, length and intent. The categories include American Independents and Rated K: for Kids to Sportsball! and Worldviews. There also are the Black Lens and Cine Sin Fronteras categories, which highlight the work of African-American and Hispanic filmmakers, respectively.
Festival films are eligible for cash prizes. The award amounts differ by category, but the total purse is worth more than $20,000. The awards are designed to help fledgling filmmakers pursue their careers,
NEW HOME, YEARROUND FILMS
Milwaukee Film, the festival’s parent organization, also will have a new home. Starting July 1, 2018, the organization will take over operations and programming at the Oriental Theatre, says Jackson. It’s the start of a 31-year lease that will give the group a year-round presence and enable it to program the types of films usually seen only during the festival.
In a world where media is tailored more and more to individual preferences and experiences, the influence of film festivals becomes a critical exercise in social engineering, he adds.
“A festival allows people to come together and see a film they might not otherwise see and then have conversations about it,” Jackson says. “A festival at its best is about building community and serving as a forum to bring people together.
Landmark Oriental Theatre, Landmark Downer Theatre, Fox Bay Cinema Grill,