It’s finally here, ladies and gentlemen. Starting today, the Wisconsin Film Festival will bring 150 films to seven theaters until April 10. The lineup is full of delights, from conventional narrative features to illuminating documentaries to unorthodox experimental films. Here’s a list of recommendations to get you started on your film fest experience. Check more listings on the Wisconsin Film Festival website.
‘20,000 Days on Earth’ (Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard, 2014); United Kingdom; 95 minutes
Sunday, April 6, 8:15 p.m., UW Union South Marquee
Nick Cave is one of rock music’s greatest treasures. His constant ruminations on murder are the perfect complement to his post-punk tunes. The artist’s 20,000th day is captured in this documentary, which bends the tenets of the genre by staging unscripted events to capture his creative processes.
‘Joe’ (David Gordon Green, 2013); USA; 117 minutes
Thursday, April 3, 9 p.m., UW Union South Marquee
Southern gothic is in vogue. From “True Detective” to “Mud,” the South has been a hotbed for rich, dark stories recently. “Joe” continues this trend, with Nicolas Cage as the titular character, an ex-con trying to leave his violent life behind him by working for a lumber company.
‘Sabbatical’ (Brandon Colvin, 2014); USA; 72 minutes
Friday, April 4, 7 p.m., UW Chazen Museum of Art; Monday, April 7, 2 p.m., Sundance Cinema 5
Sabbatical is a product of Wisconsin cinema. Directed by Brandon Colvin and shot by Aaron Granat, both graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, the movie is a must-see for anyone who’s spent time exploring the courses of the communication arts department. The film follows a middle-aged academic who returns home for a sabbatical but ends up taking care of his mother who’s recovering from a stroke.
‘The Sacrament’ (Ti West, 2013); USA; 95 minutes
Friday, April 4, 9:45 p.m., Sundance Cinema I; Monday, April 7, 9:15 p.m., Sundance Cinema I
From acclaimed director Ti West (“The House of the Devil”) comes another suspense-ridden thriller. “The Sacrament” follows a Vice Magazine crew as they document a secretive cult. The director is a master at 70s-style horror, and this film allows him to tackle found footage as well as tropes of Vice’s immersive journalism.
‘Stray Dogs’ (Tsai Ming Liang, 2013); Taiwan, France; 138 minutes
Friday, April 4, 11:30 a.m., Sundance Cinema I; Sunday, April 6, 5:30 p.m., UW Chazen Museum of Art
“Stray Dogs,” from acclaimed Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang, follows two homeless children and their father as they venture throughout the city. The simple story is told in a sparse style, with long takes galore (the last shot lasts 14 minutes). It is sure to be one of the more emotional films at the festival.
‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ (Jacques Demy, 1964); France; 91 minutes
Saturday, April 5, 12:45 p.m., Sundance Cinema 6; Monday, April 7, 4 p.m., Sundance Cinema 6
When many think of the French New Wave, they think of the anti-establishment nature of Jean-Luc Godard or the poetic realism of François Truffaut. Jacques Demy, despite his involvement in the movement, was interested in the brightly-colored musical. “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is perhaps his best work.
‘Vertigo’ (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958); USA; 128 minutes
Saturday, April 5, 1:45 p.m.; UW Chazen Museum of Art
The UW Cinematheque decided to honor one of the greatest filmmakers of all time with a retrospective of his films across the spring semester. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” is among his most essential works, and it was chosen to coincide with the festival. It will be shown on an original 35 mm mono-sound print.
‘Visitors’ (Godfrey Reggio, 2013); USA; 87 minutes
Sunday, April 6, 6:15 p.m., UW Union South Marquee; Tue, April 8, 6:45 p.m., Sundance Cinema 6
In 1982, Godfrey Reggio collaborated with Philip Glass to create one of the most hypnotic works in all of cinema history, “Koyaanisqatsi.” The two are back together with “Visitors,” a slow-moving film that investigates humanity’s relationship with technology. The film is composed of 74 shots and is sure to be as hypnotic as “Koyaanisqatsi.”
‘Wisconsin Rising’ (Sam Mayfield, 2013); USA; 56 minutes
Saturday, April 5, 1:15 p.m., UW Elvehjem Building
The 2011 Wisconsin protests are now so deeply entrenched in the state’s history they’ll soon be talked about with a hushed reverence: “I was there.” This film chronicles those events, so you can relive the anger spurred by a politician taking too much power into his own hands.