The MKE Film Festival, which opens from April 21 to May 5, once again offers a marquee of GenreQueer films. Sprinkled throughout the festival and screened in its main venues which include Times Cinema, Oriental Theater and the Avalon as well as virtually, the 19 programs span the spectrum of films produced overseas and in the United States.
Some share cross-billing with other festival categories like Teen Screen and Worldviews. There is romance, of course, but also documentaries, dramas and comedies. Much like the good old days of the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival, there is also a program of GenreQueer shorts. All programs encompass a range of topical themes from discovering identity to exposing sexual exploitation and coming to terms with religion and discrimination all the way to coming of age.
Sponsored by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Richard M. Kaul LGBT Arts Endowment Fund, this year’s list of nearly 20 films is curated by Milwaukee Film GenreQueer & Shorts programmer Jack Feria. “The program is highlighted by 10 major films plus nine more,” says Feria, who immediately pointed out Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Method, a documentary in Spanish about AIDS activist Pedro Zamora. “It’s a very good example of what we’re trying to do with GenreQueer. The film is about the misrepresentation of viruses, the power of truth, science and relevance and someone we lost too soon and the tragedy of AIDS that continues,” Feria said. This film received a “strong recommendation for Berger Express readers. »
GendreQueer Shorts, an eight-film program, also received a “Strong Recommendation” rating. Feria describes the queer collection as a range from drama to goofy comedy celebrating diversity, while bringing out voices that have not been highlighted before, presented by exciting new filmmakers. “If you only have time to see one GendreQueer program, watch this one,” Feria said.
The opening film for the GenderQueer category is A distant place, a South Korean production. Winner of the Outfest 2021 Grand Jury Prize, the film presents a “spellbinding family drama” in which the lives of a loving couple, one from the countryside and the other from the city, take a dramatic turn with the surprise visit from a distant mother.
The Milwaukee Project
The Milwaukee project is of particular local interest. Years in the making, this work shines a light on a diverse group of children coming to terms with their identity, whether gay or not, while facing issues of race, sexuality, health and poverty. Their stories begin with their time at Alliance School, an MPS charter school founded to welcome LGBTQ students and others who seek a safe, affirming, and positive learning environment.
In the meantime, for the rest of the program, a pdf version of the MKE film festival program book can be downloaded at mkefilm.org.
Speaking with Feria about nostalgia and memories of times gone by, I asked for the idea of a grand opening night at the Oriental Theater to celebrate GenreQueer like it did in the days of the Milwaukee LGTQ Film/Video Festival. There was a buzz at the time, with queer literati and sequins coming together for this mutual cinematic experience. We’ll see what the future holds, I guess, but hopefully the idea is taken to heart.
Feria did, however, address the idea of bringing back the cinematic experience, an experience lost to some whose primary entertainment resource is an iPhone. “We have amazing community partners to reach younger audiences to inspire this next generation to pursue the love of film in theater…and crack popcorn together. It’s the best,” Feria said.