An acclaimed new documentary about freshman congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez will have its Madison premiere at this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival.
Rachel Lears’ film “Knock Down the House” won the coveted Festival Favorite Award after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and sold for a reported $10 million to Netflix. The film follows Ocasio-Cortez and three other female candidates who ran unlikely campaigns against incumbents in the 2018 congression elections.
The official 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival schedule won’t be announced until Wednesday at a special “First Look at the Fest” ticketed event at AMC Madison 6, and will go online Thursday at 2019.wifilmfest.org. But festival organizers whetted the appetites of local cinephiles this weekend by releasing the names of 10 films confirmed for the festival.
Presented by the UW-Madison Division of the Arts and the university’s Communication Arts Department, the festival will run from April 4 to April 11 at several locations on the UW-Madison campus, the Wisconsin Union Theater, Union South Marquee, UW-Cinematheque and Chazen Museum of Art, as well as AMC Madison 6. Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9.
Films confirmed for the festival include:
“Woman at War”: Dry Scandinavian comedies have always done well at the festival, so it makes sense that the Opening Night Selection for this year’s festival is Benedikt Erlingsson’s Icelandic comedy about a lone woman combating climate change with a bow and arrow. The opening night screening will take place at the Wisconsin Union Theater and will also include screenings of local films that have won this year’s Golden Badger Awards, Bill Brown’s “Life on the Mississippi,” Todd McGrain’s “Elephant Path” and James Runde’s “Played Out.”[embedded content]
“Good Morning”: Legendary Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu was best known for his family dramas like “Tokyo Story,” but “Good Morning” is a surprisingly buoyant comedy with more than its share of fart jokes. It will be shown in a 35mm print, and the big draw may be the post-show discussion, when UW-Madison alumni and “Ralph Breaks The Internet” writer/director Phil Johnston will discuss the film, a personal favorite, with UW professor emeritus David Bordwell.
“Long Day’s Journey Into Night”: The UW-Cinematheque has been exploring the arthouse possibilities of 3D with films like “Prototype” and “Pina,” and that continues with Bi Gan’s virtuosic neo-noir, which includes a 55-minute single tracking shot.
“Rafiki”: Wanuri Kahiu’s film was Kenya’s first entry in the Cannes Film Festival, but banned in its home country for its positive representation of a same-sex romance.
“Hail Satan?”: Another hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Penny Lane’s hilarious documentary about the Church of Satan, and how American devil worshippers may be more entertaining than you think.[embedded content]
“Light From Light”: Jim Gaffigan may be best known as the comedian who plays Milwaukee every New Year’s Eve, but he takes a surprisingly dramatic turn in Paul Harrill’s indie drama as a widower who hires a paranormal investigator (Marin Ireland).
“Between the Lines”: With American journalism at a crossroads, it may be no better time to revisit Joan Micklin Silver’s 1977 ode to alt-weeklies, as the staff of a free-spirited Boston newspaper contends with changes when the paper is bought by a major publishing company. This movie will be presented in a new 2K restoration, and is worth seeing just to see what Jeff Goldblum looked like in 1977.
“Los Reyes”: Dog lovers will flock to see this documentary about two stray dogs who roam a Santiago skate park. (However, leave your dogs at home.)
“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders made this reverent documentary about one of American’s greatest writers, letting her tell her story in her own words.
Attendees at “First Look at the Fest” on Wednesday will get to see the festival guide before anybody else, and get the chance to buy two tickets to the screening of their choice ahead of time. Tickets are $40-$50 for that event.