28th Annual Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival

The 28th Annual Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival unspools this fall, running Oct. 17-20 at the Oriental and Union theatres. If there’s an informal theme to the 2013 festival, it might be “Excess.”

According to Festival Director Carl Bogner, there were too many great films to fit into a four-day festival format, so screenings will continue throughout the fall.

“Also, we are opening the festival with a superstar of excess,” says Bogner.

The festival opens with “I Am Divine,” a new documentary about Divine, the zaftig John Waters drag superstar. The festival also screens two Divine/John Waters collaborations, including “Pink Flamingos” on Oct. 26

Documentary portraiture recurs throughout this year’s festival, according to Bogner, senior lecturer in the Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres. In addition to the film about Divine, there are new documentaries on Alice Walker (“Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth”), experimental filmmaker, poet and activist Bohemian James Broughton (“Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton”); and the post-punk women’s rock band Fifth Column (“She Said Boom”). There also is a fictionalized film recounting the American poet Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazilian sojourn (“Reaching for the Moon”).

Narrative features that negotiate moral complexities also are part of the festival. “Three foreign language titles have the hallmarks of great art house cinema – cinematically rich and intellectually provocative, maybe even troubling,” says Bogner. They include “In the Name Of” from Poland, which portrays a Catholic priest who risks the articulation of his desires; Cannes Film Festival prize-winning “Stranger by the Lake,” a clinical Hitchcockean thriller; and the Quebecois “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” about two women who meet in prison.


Tickets and passes include a Festival Pass for $75. In addition to festival admission, the $75 pass includes admission to other screenings the festival hosts during the 2013-14 year and is reduced from last year.

The Fiver Pass, $35/general, $25/students and seniors, offers five shows for the price of four and can be used individually or by a group. This pass allows admission to any five shows at the Union Theatre during the October festival.

Opening Night tickets are $15/general, $10/students and seniors, and include a post-screening reception at Beans & Barley, 1901 E. North Ave.

Unless otherwise noted (some screenings are free), Union Theatre screenings are $9/general, $7/students, seniors and members of the UWM community.

Advance purchase of all tickets and passes is available through the Peck School of the Arts Box Office at the Zelazo Center, 414-229-4308. Single tickets may also be purchased at the Union Theatre Box Office 30 minutes prior to the screening. Advance ticket purchases can also be made online. See the festival website for details: arts.uwm.edu/lgbtfilm.

Outwords Books, 2710 N. Murray Ave., is selling Opening Night tickets and passes (Festival and Fivers). The Oriental Theatre will only be selling Opening Night tickets.


All screenings are in the UWM Union Theatre, unless otherwise indicated.

Pre-Festival Screening

Tuesday, Oct. 15:
(George Kuchar, 16mm, black-and white/sound, 107 min., 1973)
Rare screening of the feature-length homespun melodrama from esteemed underground cineaste George Kuchar, who sincerely embraces the genre even as he lathers it with excess. Writes critic Chuck Kleinhans, “Douglas Sirk tells us, ‘Cinema is blood, tears, violence, hate, death and love.’ Kuchar reminds us that cinema, like life, is also bedpans, earwax, sleazy fantasy, ineptness, compromise and laughter.” Screening introduced by UWM Art History Assistant Professor Elena Gorfinkel. FREE.

Opening Night at the Oriental Theatre

Thursday, Oct. 17:

“I Am Divine,” Oct. 18

7:30 p.m.: “I AM DIVINE”
(Jeffrey Schwarz, 98 min., 2013)
A buoyantly celebratory documentary that unfurls the story of Divine – AKA Harris Glenn Milstead – the once-teased Baltimore youth who, working with friend and neighborhood Svengali John Waters, become a drag Molotov cocktail, a legendary stage performer, and a movie star like none other.

Friday, Oct. 18:

(Dawn Logsdon, Stephen Silha and Eric Slade, 83 min., 2012)
Experimental filmmaker, poet, sexual liberator, and lifelong San Franciscan bohemian James Broughton would have been 100 this November, and this spirited documentary portrait honors his energies and creative forays that all reveal an aesthetic both joyous and formally randy. Broughton’s mantra, exuberantly shared here, was “follow your own weird.” FREE.

7 p.m.: “REACHING FOR THE MOON (Flores Rares)”

(Bruno Barreto, Brazil, English and Portuguese w/subtitles, 118 min., 2013)

American poet Elizabeth Bishop’s sojourn to Brazil, pursued in 1951 for a “geographic cure,” became an extended period of transformative activity, creatively and romantically. The film chronicles Bishop’s tempestuous romance with the architect bravissima Lota de Macedo Soares, a passionate relationship rocked by alcoholism, separation, political upheaval and loss. Chief among the film’s understandings is the detailing of the messy complications kindled by two working artists working to make a life together.

9:30 p.m.: “ADULTHOOD, APPROXIMATELY: An Evening of Men’s Shorts”
Coming of age is not just for the adolescents in this menagerie of international and award-winning men’s short films and videos. Heartbreak, personal quests (to retrieve discarded porn, albeit) and general awkwardness all cross the men in these stories.

Saturday, Oct. 19:

“I Am a Woman Now,” Oct. 19

11 a.m.: “I AM A WOMAN NOW”
(Michiel van Erp, The Netherlands, English, French, German, and Dutch w/subtitles, 86 min., 2011)

Portrays five Europeans, all of a certain age, who are among the first generation of trans women. In generous conversation, April, Colette, Jean, Marie-Pierre and Corrine – all such good company – warmly and openly reflect back, across five decades, on the decisions made, and the lives they have lived. FREE.

1 p.m.: “THE NEW BLACK”
(Yoruba Richen, 80 min., 2013)
Framed around last November’s historic fight for marriage equality in Maryland, “The New Black” portrays pastors and activists, families and politicians, as it explores the divisions in the African American community around civil rights for LGBT people. Working with remarkable access, the film documents in particular the role of the church, and efforts to exploit these influential institutions in pursuit of an anti-gay political agenda. Reception and discussion to follow.

“Valencia,” Oct. 19

3 p.m.: “VALENCIA”
(Multiple directors, 100 min., 2012)
Like its avid, open-minded, and ready-to-take-risks heroine, this adaptation of Michelle Tea’s essential novel/memoir about queer women in 1990s San Francisco is wonderfully and productively restless in its pursuit of a way to be. Twenty-one directors made this film – each adapting their own chapter – and a population of performers variously embody the heroine Michelle, among them Shawna Lipton of UWM’s English Department.


“In the Name of…” Oct. 19

5 p.m.: “IN THE NAME OF (W Imie…)”
(Malgoska Szumowska, Poland, Polish w/subtitles, 97 min., 2012)
Adam, a closeted priest in rural Poland, risks a declaration that challenges the very foundation of his faith and sworn mission. What is most impressive about director Szumowska’s exquisitely made film is the moral universe she maps: Desire and acceptance here are understandable sanctuaries from the quotidian brutality of this largely male world already harsh with judgment.

7 p.m.: “EN GARDE! An Evening of Women’s Shorts”
Whether in love or war, the women in tonight’s program of shorts are on their toes, ready to lunge in for a first kiss or step back to the defensive, parrying the advances of a young student or of time itself.

“Stranger by the Lake,” Oct. 19

9 p.m.: “STRANGER BY THE LAKE (“L’Iconnu du Lac)”
(Alain Guiraudie, French w/subtitles, 97 min., 2013)
An austere thriller that is almost ethnographic in its approach to the habitués of a lakeside cruising ground, where a murder takes place. Franck cruises the beach regularly, idling away time in conversation, waiting for a new hook-up. Once he meets Michel, however, he thinks he has found a serious connection, one that he won’t refuse even after, he is almost certain, he witnesses Michel in an act of violence.

(Kevin Hegge, Canada, Germany, USA, 64 min., 2012)
A documentary of the landmark post-punk group Fifth Column, three Toronto women who, starting in 1981, formed a band whose boundary-less creative politics fomented transdisciplinary collaborations with musicians, filmmakers, zine artists and outsiders of all sorts. Caroline Azar, Beverly Breckenridge, and G.B. Jones inspired and made, in other words, a scene, Fifth Column foundational to subsequent histories of Queercore and Riot Grrrl.


(Vivienne Dick, Super 8 on 16mm, 28 min., 1978)
Gritty narrative tracking the power dynamics between two women, played by Pat Place and Lydia Lunch.

Sunday, Oct. 20:

“Lesbiana: A parallel Revolution,” Oct. 20

11 a.m.: “LESBIANA: A PARALLEL REVOLUTION (Lesbiana – Une Révolution Parallèlle)”
(Myriam Fougère. Canada, 63 min., 2012)
A remarkable cross-continent journey to meet the lesbian writers, philosophers, artists and activists who, in the 1970s, were stirred by the feminist movement to create intentional communities and live only among other women. Rich with archival materials, a resistance to any kind of unified assessment, and warm, captivating interviews with an effortlessly diverse array of women. FREE.


(Barbara Hammer, 16mm, 20 min., 1975)
A troop of shield-bearing Amazons takes over San Francisco.

“Bwakaw,” Oct. 20

1 p.m.: “BWAKAW”
(Jun Robles Lana, Philippines, English and Tagalog w/subtitles, 110 min., 2012)
Rene is in his 70s, his only companion a once-stray dog named Bwakaw. Rene only came out in his 60s, and, now, nearing the end of a life not fully lived, he wonders about the isolation he helped sustain. Mostly, he is cranky: barking at those who try to tolerate his cantankerous self. But, stirred by new attractions, Rene hazards new relationships and a new idea of himself. FREE to those who bring a photo of their animal companion to share.

(Pratibha Parmar, UK/USA, 82 min., 2013)
A documentary about the life of the Pulitzer prize-winning writer and human rights activist that is as compelling and
complicated, rich and surprising, personal and political as its subject. Rich in testimony, from such luminaries as Angela Davis, Jewelle Gomez, Sapphire, Gloria Steinem, Howard Zinn and Walker herself. Reception and discussion to follow in the Wisconsin Room Lounge.

“Rogue: An Evening of Trans shorts,” Oct. 20

5 p.m.: “ROGUE: An Evening of Trans* Shorts”
A collection of international and award-winning videos, tonight’s program addresses uncompromising pasts and identities through the documentary and the surreal, the desired and the discarded. Includes the award-winning shorts “She Gone Rogue,” from artists Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, and “Undress Me,” from Sweden’s Victor Lindgren.


(Arvin Chen, Taiwan, Mandarin and Min Yan w/subtitles, 104 min., 2013)
A movie aswoon with the idea of enchantment, this effervescent comedy embraces the travails and triumphs of a collection of love-addled Taipeians, principally among them the normally steadfast Weichung, a dutiful husband and optometrist, whose focus is reset by a dapper airline steward.

And after the Festival

Monday, Oct. 21:

Born this Way, Oct. 21

7 p.m.: “BORN THIS WAY”
(Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann, French and English w/subtitles, 85 min., 2012)
There are more arrests for homosexuality in Cameroon than any other country in the world. With intimate access to the lives of four young gay and lesbian Cameroonians, “Born This Way” offers a vivid and poetic portrait of day-to-day life in modern Africa, a world scarred by devastating homophobia. FREE.

Tuesday, Oct. 22:

7 p.m.: “VIC + FLO SAW A BEAR (Vic et Flo ont vu un ours)”
(Denis Côté, Canada, French w/subtitles, 95 min., 2013)
A genuinely transporting story of Vic and Flo, two women who met in prison and try to make a life on the outside in an unused sugar shack in the Québec outback. Funny and invitingly uneasy, dreamy and at times upsettingly violent, director Côté’s tonally singular film is like something out of Beckett: a consideration, both sympathetic and absurd, of the unshakeable confinement that contains us all. FREE.

Saturday, Oct. 26:

(John Waters, 35mm, 108 min., 1972)
Divine stars as the promiscuously criminal trailer trash outlaw Babs Johnson in the still-outrageous filmic provocation
that defined “midnight movie” by giving an antic finger to any idea of taste. $5.

Saturday, Nov. 2:

7 p.m.: “MilQ”: A curated evening of short films and videos made by local artists.
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, 1110 N. Market St., #2. Presented with the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
The festival is presented by the UWM Peck School of the Arts Department of Film and made possible thanks to festival sponsors Joseph R. Pabst, Cream City Foundation, Jack H. Smith of Shorewest Realtors, and Quest and Outbound magazines, Wisconsin Gazette, The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and WMSE 91.7FM. The festival also acknowledges the essential support provided by UWM Union Programming, the UWM Union Theatre and UWM LGBT Campus Partners, as well as generous individuals, businesses, and campus and community organizations.