Monday, May 30, 2022

MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 4/21/22 - 5/5/22 Eclectic Arts


April 21st through May 5th, 2022


5/31/22  As an update, I spent the last month and some change dealing with a serious health issue (not hospital level serious but serious nonetheless).  Thankfully, I am finally back on my feet and feeling like myself again.  My sincere apologies to everyone involved with the Milwaukee Film Festival.  I always hold myself to a certain standard but with the health issue I fell completely short of that standard this year.  I hope to make it up next year should I be given the opportunity.  Thank you for your patience and understanding along the way.    - Mark/EA

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I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Milwaukee Film Festival.  I was overjoyed when I found out I was credentialed again for this year’s Festival as well.  Just like last year I am participating virtually from my home in Seattle, WA.  

Having just wrapped up the Seattle International Film Festival, doing both in-person and virtual work, I was looking forward to the programming that this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival had in store.


This documentary was really fascinating as two high schools combined their student athlete pool to have enough players for one football team.  It is a story of have and have nots, race relations, and never underestimating your opponent.  

Any fan of sports will find something that resonates with them about this film.  Recommended.

4.5 out of 5


A fictional drama based on an actual event.  “892” started off strong but then began to get long in the tooth.  Since it is basically stuck in one location, it made for a real challenge for the creatives to make the story interesting.  

The performances were noteworthy but as a whole, “892” was average.

3 out of 5


As a photographer, “Grain” was a fascinating look at the continued use of standard film photography VS digital photography.  Any photographer knows the positives that come from mastering film but the film does a wonderful job of showing many aspects that the mainstream viewer would also come to appreciate about the format.  Recommended.

4 out of 5

Joy Womack: The White Swan

I am always intrigued by the world of professional ballet and “Joy Womack: The White Swan” was another prime example of why ballet is such a fascinating topic for film.  

The documentary follows Joy Womack as she becomes the first American to graduate from the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy.  

Her career takes unexpected turns but it also shows the amount of sacrifice, dedication, and strength she possesses to pursue her dream of being a professional ballet dancer.

4.5 out of 5

Ali & Ava

I’m always impressed by dramatic films where the narrative feels so genuine that you forget that you’re watching a fictional movie, not a documentary.  “Ali & Ava” is one such film.

The day-to-day lives of the two characters, how they eventually meet, and then begin a relationship is as relatable as anything in recent cinema.  

If you’re looking for a film that is a slice of life that you can see yourself in, “Ali & Ava” will do just fine.

4 out of 5

Anonymous Sister

The opioid crisis has been front and center in some ways, while brushed under the carpet in others.  In today’s society, most at least know about the issue.  But twenty years ago (or more), no one really knew about the crisis that was setting up shop all across America (and the world).

“Anonymous Sister” is a documentary that sheds light on the people affected by this crisis.  It’s not all homeless folks or people with mental illness issues.  It’s “normal” families in middle America, too, that are affected.  

The director tells the story of her own family's struggle with the opioid crisis in such a natural way that when things take a turn for the worse, the viewer can’t help but be sucked into their world.  And wish for them to recover.

Then anger takes over as the rich get richer while the rest of us develop addictions, meet untimely deaths, and break apart familial relationships.

“Anonymous Sister” is a tough watch but an absolutely necessary one.  Recommended.

4.5 out of 5

Daughter Of A Lost Bird

This film is a compelling documentary about a young woman who learns about her ethnic and cultural heritage.  The history behind her people, the movement to basically “cleanse” her race from the planet, and everything else that came with it.

Identity is something everyone can relate to and “Daughter Of A Lost Bird” examines this topic in a direct and educational way.  Worth checking out.

4 out of 5

For The Left Hand

This was one of my favorite films of the entire festival.  The story of the life of a music teacher who only has the use of his left hand.  Norman Malone is the focus of this wonderful documentary.  A one handed pianist that strives to create music in a world where many had told him it couldn’t be done.

The importance of belief, the effect of any one teacher, and a positive attitude really come through in this documentary.  

Mr. Malone is an engaging and compelling figure throughout the film.  Absolutely recommended.

5 out of 5


I love sports documentaries but I know next to nothing about the game of hockey.  “Hockeyland” is a documentary about high school hockey and the rivalry that almost every district has at the high school level.

The film was interesting to a point but then began to lose focus.  Typically, as a season progresses, the film becomes more interesting, not less.  Perhaps the creatives needed more time to edit the film and/or rethink their vision.

3 out of 5

One Pint At A Time

The craft beer industry is something I’ve been a part of for over twenty years.  “One Pint At A Time” focuses on BIPOC brewers and owners in America.  The film also touches on the pandemic, the Black Lives Matters movement, and other areas of today.  

If you’re looking for a fun film about craft beer, this isn’t necessarily it.  However, if you’d like to learn about the growing sector of BIPOC brewers and owners and learn about their journey’s, then “One Pint At A Time” will go down easy.

4 out of 5

Shorts:  The Best Damn Fucking Midnight Program Ever.  Shit.

I always recommend checking out at least one shorts program whenever you participate in a film festival.  Some of the shorts are some of the most creative films you will see and in many cases they are starting points for eventual feature films based on the shorts' material.

This particular shorts block was intriguing from beginning to end.  I’m a lover of horror and midnight movies so it was right up my alley.  Recommended.

4 out of 5

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Much like last year, the virtual component of the Milwaukee Film Festival featured top notch programming.  There were a few films that overlapped with other festivals but that is to be expected.  

I really enjoy the diversity in the programming and not only that but just the flat out quality.  Some festivals seem to go for the most art house type of films which isn’t my cup of tea.  Some are fine but not an entire festival.  

MFF always strikes a balance that keeps me coming back for more.  


Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts

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