A Music Lover’s Guide to the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival

Milwaukee Film Festival

Every year, it feels like the Milwaukee Film Festival grows larger and larger, incorporating more elements connected to cinema. If you’re a music fan, there’s plenty to rejoice over at this year’s festival. We’ve carved through the massive schedule to pick out the must-see events for any music fan at this year’s Milwaukee Music Festival below:

Cream City Soundtrack at The Jazz Estate

There’s live music, so that in itself should make these events a go-to on your schedule. Catch sets after the Milwaukee Film Festival programs nightly at The Jazz Estate, plus, you can use your same-day ticket stub or Festival Pass for drink specials. Here’s the Cream City Soundtrack lineup:

Friday, September 29th, 11:00 PM: Kid Millions (DJ Set)
Saturday, September 30th, 11:00 PM: Kevin Hayden Group
Tuesday, October 3rd, 9:00 PM: Milwaukee Film Festival Jam Session
Friday, October 6th, 9:30 PM: Dramatic Lovers

*There are several other events listed at The Jazz Estate during the Film Festival’s run, as well. Check out The Jazz Estate Website for details.

Prince Cocktails / “Purple Rain” / Let’s Go Crazy: A Celebration of Prince at Pizza Man, the Downer Theatre, The Jazz Estate, and Riverwest Public House
Friday, September 29th. Cocktails at 4:00 PM, Movie at 6:15 PM, After parties at 9:00 PM

It’s Prince! Why wouldn’t you go to a night full of great music celebrating the life of The Purple One, starting with Prince themed cocktails at Pizza Man, then a showing of “Purple Rain” at The Downer Theatre, plus not one, but two after parties with DJs spinning Prince classics, because that’s what Prince would have asked for. Let’s go crazy.

“Strad Style”
Friday, September 29th at 6:30 PM (Avalon Theater), Thursday, October 5th at 3:00 PM (Oriental Theatre), Thursday, October 12th at 2:00 PM (Avalon Theater)

The story of a man in a farmhouse in Ohio who is convinced he can create a replica of the world’s most valuable violin is at the very least compelling. Add in the fact that he convinces other people he can do said task, has a knack for creating violins and practices “candle magick”, and you’ve got me sold.

“Give Me Future”
Friday, September 29th at 9:15 PM (Oriental Theatre), Saturday, September 30th at 8:00 PM (Avalon Theater), Friday, October 6th at 10:00 PM (Oriental Theatre)

As someone who has seen several documentaries behind the scenes of what really goes into EDM, this looks intriguing. There’s a lot more complexity than simply pushing a button or two, I swear, and a look into the story of Major Lazer playing the first huge concert in a then recently-opened-to-the-US Havana, Cuba is one to make time for.

“Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World”
Sunday, October 1st at 1:30 PM (Downer Theatre), Monday, October 9th at 6:30 PM (Oriental Theatre)

“Rumble” combines a music documentary with a cultural film, linking the Native American heritage of popular musicians over a wide variety of genres. Ranging everything from historical references, through legends like Jimi Hendrix, up to today, the film adds a facet to musical icons that you may have never known about otherwise.

“Score: A Film Music Documentary”
Sunday, October 1st at 7:15 PM (Downer Theatre), Monday, October 2nd at 3:45 PM (Times Cinema), Wednesday, October 4th at 4:00 PM (Fox Bay Cinema Grill)

This film was actually brought to my attention via OnMilwaukee movie critic Matt Mueller (who by the way has some essential picks for the festival). The movie looks at cinema itself, breaking down the importance of the music that sometimes goes unnoticed in the background of your favorite scenes. If the names Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, or John Williams mean anything to you (which they should), then you should be at this movie.

“Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker”
Sunday, October 1st at 10:00 PM (Avalon Theater), Wednesday, October 4th at 7:00 PM (Times Cinema), and Tuesday, October 10th at 9:00 PM (Oriental Theatre)

For many, Jawbreaker is one of your favorite band’s influences. The band rode the early wave of punk and alternative popularity in the early 90’s, before splitting up and declaring that they’d never reunite. The film looks at their efforts to do just that (spoiler: they did just that at Riot Fest this year), as well as tell their story. I’m personally very excited for this one.

The Milwaukee Music Video Show
Monday, October 2nd at 6:30 PM (Oriental Theatre)

If you’ve followed this website at all, you know that there are some damn good videos being made in Milwaukee that only live on the screens of phones, laptops, and maybe a smart TV or two. Get to see videos from WebsterX, Ragani, Sat. Nite Duets, Soul Low (who are premiering a new video), The Fatty Acids, Uncle Larry, Hot Coffin, IshDARR, Jacob Banks, Jim White & Paul Fonfara, Joe Quinto & Miguel Diaz, The Kingdom of Mudnscum, The Listening Party, Marielle Allschwang, NO/NO, and Direct Hit! all on the big screen.

“A Life In Waves”
Monday, October 2nd at 9:15 PM (Avalon Theater), Thursday, October 5th at 1:30 PM (Downer Theatre), Sunday, October 8th at 3:45 PM (Downer Theatre)

Coca-Cola, Atari, and EDM all have one thing in common; Suzanne Ciani. Chronicle the Grammy-nominated electronic music artist with a documentary about her life, as well as her influential work in the often male-dominated music industry.

“Mali Blues”
Friday, October 6th at 1:30 PM (Downer Theatre), Sunday, October 8th at 12:00 PM (Times Cinema), Tuesday, October 10th at 6:30 PM (Oriental Theatre)

Regardless of what genre of music you prefer, many of popular music’s histories come from some derivative of the blues. Without being “world music”, the genre is essentially just that. This film looks at the blues and it’s origins in the Western African nation of Mali, as well as looking at four musicians currently taking a cultural stand by promoting peace through music.

Chavela / Night of Nostalgia with Chulita Vinyl Club at the Downer Theatre and 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Friday, October 6th, Movie at 6:30 PM, Event at 9:00 PM

“Chavela” is a documentary about the life of Chavela Vargas, a Mexican ranchera music sensation that drifted into obscurity, and then reemerged to success before passing away. To go with that, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee is hosting a night of ranchera vinyl with the Chulita Vinyl Club at their studio in Walker’s Point.

*”Chavela” is also playing on Tuesday, October 10th at 4:30 PM at the Avalon Theater.

“Stop Making Sense”
Saturday, October 7th at 10:00 PM (Oriental Theatre)

While yes, it’s an annual event at the Milwaukee Film Festival, the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” is my favorite concert film, and arguably one of the best of all time. A truly unique live performance, the film also captures the enigma of the Talking Heads at their peak. It’s everything you could want from a live concert experience and then some.

Groove Theory: The Sounds of 90’s Black Cinema at Company Brewing
Sunday, October 8th, 8:00 PM

As part of the Black Lens portion of the Milwaukee Film Festival, Jay Anderson and VoodooHoney Records members will be taking the stage at Company Brewing, covering songs from “Love Jones”, which plays earlier that night at the Oriental Theatre, as well as other black movie soundtracks like “Soul Food” and “Boomerang”. A fun way to close out the festival, checking out some talented musicians take on the classics.


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