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WRAP UP:
2003 MILWAUKEE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL


Zertinet
By Steven Snyder
http://movies.zertinet.com/features/milwaukeefilmfest03-wrapup.htm


Milwaukee's first international film festival was a smash hit over the past two weeks, proving again why this moderate city is one of the finest art communities in the country. For eleven days, films of every imaginable genre and culture appeared on screens throughout southeastern Wisconsin, and at every screening I attended I saw excited crowds eager to see something different and discuss what it all meant.

1.
OPENING DAY
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7
MOVIES: "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," "Chump Change," "Lilya 4Ever"
VENUES: Downer, Oriental Theaters

To be honest, I wasn't sure how this film festival would go over. Scheduling such a lengthy lineup was a gutsy decision, but program director Jonathan Jackson and everyone else involved in the project pulled it off without a hitch.

I was sold after the first full day of festival events. In the span of six hours, I saw three great movies. First was "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a documentary as ambitious and controversial as any released this year. About Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, and the coup which almost removed him from power, it is an editorial that attempts to reverse what the directors see as Chavez's misrepresentation here in America.

Next was an experience I will always remember. "Chump Change," a film made explicitly about Wisconsin and Midwest ideals, headlined the evening's festivities and played to a full house. Any doubt about the festival or the quality of the movies was erased as this touching film about a man who heads west only to realize his heart lies here in Milwaukee won over a sold-out Oriental crowd.

Rounding out the evening was "Lilya 4Ever" from Sweden, which chronicles the struggles of an abandoned orphan in the former Soviet Union. Before the festival, I considered this heartbreaking film one of the best of the year, and my opinion was only strengthened by its showing Friday night.

2.
"THREE"
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8
ORIENTAL THEATER

"Three" is a collaboration of three foreign films, each with a unique take on the afterlife. In the first installment from Korea, the central character longs to ignore the afterlife, horrified by a murder he committed and the constant reminders from beyond the grave that fill him with guilt and remorse.

Second is a film from Thailand, focusing on the popular performing puppets of that culture and a character who refuses to acknowledge their supernatural powers. His ignorance quickly leads to his demise.

The last, and best, installment is from Hong Kong - about a doctor who believes he is above the afterlife. His wife has died of cancer, but he believes he can revive her. A surprise ending adds to this twisted tale an irony reminiscent of "The Twilight Zone."

3.
CLASSICS OF THE AVANT-GARDE
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10
ORIENTAL THEATER

Silent and experimental films have been sadly relegated to film festivals in today's society. On Monday night, one of the best avant-garde films of all time finally had its moment in Milwaukee. Luis Bunuel "Un Chien Andalou (1928)" is a hypnotic experience, a symphony that in parts makes perfect sense, but as a whole is a mesmerizing mystery. It has been cited by Roger Ebert as one of the best films of all time, and while it leaves audiences scratching their heads, it is also one of those works that endures in people's minds, daring them to return to its strange images and moods to decipher its mystery.

4.
LOCAL FILMS
TITLES: "No Sleep 'Til Madison," "Making Revolution," "Blue Lamp"
DATES: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, NOV. 8, NOV. 12

The festival also provided a badly-need outlet for some fantastic films from the Midwest shunned by national distributors. "No Sleep 'Til Madison" is an exceptional, hilarious movie about a group of grown-up, dispersed friends reuniting in Wisconsin to make their annual tour of high school hockey games.

" Making Revolution" documents the beginnings of "KAOS - " a group organized to unite the anti-establishment forces of the country. But rather than revolting against the status quo, an improvised world summit deteriorates into feuding, immaturity and aimless bitterness.

And I will use every opportunity I have to tout Alexander Boguslavsky's 18-minute "Blue Lamp." It is a short film about a child who loses his mother, and a meditation on the immeasurable impact that loss has on a person's soul. It showed Wednesday with a collection of Midwest shorts, and it continues to be one of the most impressive short films I have ever seen.

I can't wait for next year!

Steven Snyder welcomes feedback at steve@zertinet.com

For More Information and Tickets for Next Year Please Go To
http://www.milwaukeefilmfest.org


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