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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Mini Indie Festival brings films to UW

Okay so straight up, the thing I want to talk about is the Mini Indie Film Festival which is happening this weekend, because golly gee is it cool. While I am super biased given that I helped put it together, I also think that the idea of a completely free, student organized and run independent film festival is incredibly cool. So take it as you will. Anyway, here’s the lineup.

Opening on Thursday night is “The One I Love,” starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss as a couple who set out to get counseling for their marriage and wind up in a bizarre, soft sci-fi situation that I’d rather not spoil for y’all. But it’s an under-seen and insightful mix of science fiction and real, human drama from the Duplass Brothers’ production company, and you should see it (I’m going to be saying that a lot, sorry).

Starting at 5:30 P.M. Friday we’re showing a program of short films by UW-Madison students, the centerpiece of which is last semester’s Film Workshop capstone production, “Seventeen Blue.” A UW professor called it “one of the best student films I’ve ever seen.” Again, you should see it, and the other great shorts made by your fellow Badgers.

The film I’m most excited about, “Only Lovers Left Alive,” is indie auteur Jim Jarmusch’s newest film, focusing on Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as modern day vampires, which is just the coolest idea ever. It’s as flip and deadpan and hilarious as Jarmusch ever is, but it’s also wise and heartfelt and sort of uplifting at points. Plus if you’re attracted to men, Tom Hiddleston is super good looking. and if you’re attracted to women, Tilda Swinton is gorgeous. And if you’re attracted to ideas about love and life and all that stuff, this film has them. Basically if you’re attracted to people, or to good things, you should see it.

“Only Lovers Left Alive” is playing as part of a vampire double feature with our Friday late night screening of “What We Do in the Shadows,” which is hard to talk about because it hasn’t actually been released anywhere yet. But we have it, and what we do know is it’s a mockumentary about old school vampires who get a new, fratty roommate that they have to adjust to, starring, written and directed by the creators of Flight of the Conchords. And we’re showing it for free before it actually plays in theaters.

Saturday we’re showing “Ernest & Celestine,” a French animated film about a bear who becomes friends with a mouse. It’s the most goddamn adorable thing ever, and it was nominated for an Academy Award last year. But seriously it’s so cute and just the trailer made me tear up with how wonderful it looked.

Then we’re showing “Dinsosaur 13,” which is a documentary/scientific soap opera about the discovery of Sue, the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found, and the intense legal battle that followed between the scientists who found her, Native American tribes and the U.S. Government. We’re co-presenting it with the UW Paleontology Club and the UW Geology Museum, and hot tip on the street is that they’re bringing actual T-Rex fossils to the screening. So yeah, the five year old in me is super excited, because dinosaurs are rad. You should see it, and come see some old-ass bones.

We also have “A Most Wanted Man,” the last film that Philip Seymour Hoffman completed, which follows a Chechen Muslim immigrant to Germany and the web of espionage in which he finds himself entangled. It looks absolutely incredible.

“Locke,” a film that is entirely Tom Hardy, in his car, talking on the phone as his life threatens to unravel around him, is one of the most interesting dramas to come out this year, because again, it’s just Tom Hardy in his car. And it’s supposed to be one of the most gripping films of the year. Seriously, check it out.

Our other documentary is “The Unknown Known,” which is essentially an extended interview between director (and UW alum) Errol Morris and former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld. So if you live in/near America (and I’m pretty sure you do) you need to see it, as it sheds a lot of light on the last, say, 40 years or so of our foreign policy and like, why our country works the way it does sometimes. It’s important.

“Blue Ruin” is a revenge drama that opts for a realistic, ugly and incredibly intense portrayal of vengeance over the fantasy violence of other more typical films. It’s a breathtakingly tense film. You should see it.

“Wetlands” is a disgustingly German sex comedy about a young woman coming of age and dealing with her parents divorce. And God. And her butt. It’s shocking and stunning and the perfect late night film, which is great because that’s when we’re showing it.

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“Dusty Stacks of Mom” is an experimental, personal, part animation, part rock opera exploration into the world of posters and postcards, which sounds nuts.

Finally, “God Help the Girl” is a musical about some Scottish kids who decide to start a band, written and directed by Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian. Closing the festival is “Listen Up Philip,” a dark comedy about a writer who freaks out over a New York Times review (starring Jason Schwartzman from “Rushmore” and “Scott Pilgrim,” and a particularly fat cat that steals the show).

Basically it’s insanely cool that there’s a completely free, student run film festival on campus, and it represents your only chance to see a lot of these fantastic films in Madison. And again, it’s free so like what do you have to lose? Plus I’ll be at all of them, so if you hate it you can yell at me after. For more information, to view the schedules or watch the trailers, go to

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