Tag Archives: documentaries

A seasoned film critic eyes TV’s biography

At 75, David Thomson is the sultan of cinema criticism. British-born but long based in America, he is the author of nearly two dozen film-related books including “Moments that Made the Movies,” “’Have You Seen…?’: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films” and “The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.”

Now Thomson has switched his gaze, and his analysis, to the TV medium.

In “Television: A Biography” (Thames & Hudson, $34.95), David Thomson focuses on TV from its individual genres to its broad social impact during the past 70 years. As ever, his writing is bright, puckish and reader-friendly.

At 400 pages, the book is a bit weighty, but not the prose.

But what made Thomson, who had never before put his take on TV between covers, decide to change channels? During a recent interview, he explained.

“I was at a point where I felt that the movies were not really going anywhere very exciting, and that if you were looking for the best American movies, you probably needed to look at television. ‘The Wire,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ — they were so much more ambitious than anything made for theaters.

So I began to develop an historical perspective on TV that I had had on the movies for a long time. I’m much more interested now in thinking about and writing about TV than the movies.”


“You may have watched a lot of TV but never thought systematically about it. I wanted to do a book which would give you a sense that the totality of the medium had been addressed. Not covered, but addressed. And if you have never watched television, after you read this book I think you can say, ‘I understand what television is.””


“Our relationship with TV is different than with almost any medium we’ve had before. It’s all well and good for something on TV to be so riveting that you don’t want to miss a moment. But when you tune in to watch one show, you may end up just watching TV overall. There’s such a lot on television that is sort of tidal — it just washes in and out, over you. You turn it on like you would turn on a light, and you may be doing other things. But even if you’re not watching, it enters into you in ambient ways.”


Thomson, film’s consummate list-maker, shared “off the top of my head” a few pick TV hits:

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus” … the BBC version of “The Singing Detective” … live coverage of the funeral of President John F. Kennedy … “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” … “a couple of episodes of ‘All in the Family’ where Edith is just sublime” … the ESPN documentary series “O.J.: Made in America,” which he calls “a major work” … and, of course, “Breaking Bad.”

“But this time tomorrow,” he cautions, “I would revise the whole list.”


“With Donald Trump in the White House, I think we’re going to get more of the same as with the campaign: His administration will have to be judged as an ongoing TV show. He is a television person, so I think it’s going to be a presidency of shows and moments. My instinct is, in terms of policy, he’s doing to be dreadfully disappointing to his supporters. But on TV, I think it’s going to be amazing _ until it becomes grotesque.”


“We watch stories and stars, but it’s more and more evident that, as TV viewers, we go where the technology takes us. My sense of television is that technology has always driven the whole thing, and I think that will continue. I think more sophisticated, interesting fusions of what we still call television with the computer are going to occur. That will be more important than any sort of new genre or new narrative form in entertainment. And I see the end of the movie house. But it’s inevitable that a cellphone will be built into our hands. So maybe a screen could be implanted in our heads. I think that will happen!”


Three decades on, UWM’s LGBT Film Festival focuses on families in flux

The Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary and festival director Carl Bogner is looking forward to the biggest program in recent memory. Over 11 days, he and UWM’s Peck School of the Arts will bring more than 30 feature films and shorts programs to the city, all centering around LGBT themes — but many not defined exclusively by those themes.

Bogner hasn’t been involved with the festival for all three decades — 2015 marks his 17th year — but in his time, he says, LGBT filmmaking has come leaps and bounds, and that’s reflected in this year’s work.

Early LGBT film festivals, he says, were often disproportionally filled with international films because U.S. filmmakers weren’t turning their lenses on LGBT stories. They also focused most often on lesbian and gay stories, ignoring more nuanced tales of sexual identity or stories about trans individuals.

Times have changed and, this year especially, films are expanding beyond their LGBT protagonists to tell stories about the families and communities surrounding them.

Take this year’s opening film is From This Day Forward. The documentary follows filmmaker Sharon Shattuck’s Midwest family, reuniting to plan her wedding. Her father Trisha, a transgender woman, came out while Shattuck was in middle school, but Trisha and Shattuck’s straight-identified mother, Marcia, were able to stay together. Years later, Shattuck’s film is like a home movie, tenderly exploring the dynamics of the family unit and trying to parse out how her parents’ marriage lasted.

It’s the first time, Bogner says, that the festival has opened with a trans-focused film, and it’s a decision that’s long overdue. Last year, the festival ended with a screening of 52 Tuesdays, a feature film about a transgender man and his daughter that featured a similar pairing of a central trans character within a broader narrative about family. “Films about the trans experience have become more varied and complicated and harder to pigeonhole and as rich as any other film,” Bogner says.

While it’s a big step for the festival to open with From This Day Forward, Bogner says part of the reason he was drawn to the film and selected it was because of its low-key tone. “It might seem like an atypical opening night film, just because there’s something quieter about it. Making it opening night might be the most sensational thing about it.”

Bogner says that, if the festival is defined by anything, it’s “deliberately eclectic selections” — everything from historical work to boundary-pushing experimental films to coming-of-age tales to painfully essential documentaries. From the outset, he says, he’s tried to make the festival a place where you can come across films you might not otherwise consider making part of your personal canon. “Canon formation always seems like a curious process,” he says. “The festival, maybe to the irritation of some, always had the desire to introduce new work, or get things in front of people that they might not have seen.”

To further that goal, this year Bogner’s experimenting by making tickets free for all students, from UWM and otherwise. It’s a gamble — as he says, he could suddenly walk into a theater to see all 300-odd seats taken up by students — but one he thinks is worthwhile as a way to help develop an appreciation for the film festival among younger generations, who he says may not feel the same compulsion to seek out LGBT cinema that their predecessors did. “Their whole lives, they’re probably felt like they’ve had access to queer media,” he says.

With more than 30 films and programs, there’s too much packed into the LGBT Film/Video Festival to cover in this space — so Bogner provided a few highlights, along with his thoughts on why they’re suited for this year’s festival.

Milwaukee LGBT Film Festival recommendations

‘From This Day Forward’

Thursday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m., Oriental

A documentary about a transgender parent and the transformational capacities of love and understanding, From This Day Forward is a moving portrayal of a Midwest family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. On the occasion of her own wedding, filmmaker Sharon Shattuck depicts her family, including her transgender father Trisha and straight-identified mother Marcia, in an attempt to understand how her parents stayed together and absorbed the changes that could have separated them.

Carl’s Take: “I love how delicately observed the film is. There’s nothing sensational about it — it’s matter-of-fact; it’s frank. I think people will be able to inhabit it well because it feels like a home movie and they’re good people. It’s just really beautifully made.”


Friday, Oct. 16, at 9 p.m., Union Cinema

The first significant out film in the U.K., the 1978 film Nighthawks depicts Jim, a grade school teacher who makes no efforts to hide his sexuality from his colleagues and cruises the gay pubs at night. Often likened to a documentary, this film’s politics reside in its details of daily routine, until the astounding near-final scene when a student confronts Jim about his sexuality.

Carl’s Take: “The politics of the film seem determined not to sensationalize the main character. It has a ‘we’re just like everyone else’ approach. What makes it amazing to me is this penultimate scene that takes place in school, where one of his colleagues is sick, so his classroom is overcrowded with kids, and one of the kids challenges him on his sexuality and begins asking all these inappropriate questions. And he answers them. It just seems like an act of queer radicalism.”

‘The Summer of Sangailé’

Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m., Oriental

This movie (in Lithuanian with subtitles) that literally soars shares a wondrous tale of a 17-year-old girl’s overcoming her crippling doubts to realize her dreams of being a pilot, and her relationship with a more instinctively daring girlfriend who gives her the necessary wings. The relationship of Sangailé and Auste is a delight to encounter and the film is a winning tale of transformative love and a portrait of dreams risked and realized.

Carl’s Take: “One of the things I was struck by is it’s really beautiful and whimsical. I took pleasure in the way the resolution for this heroine is not just that she’s in a couple — that’s bonus — but the way she takes some risks that she hadn’t been able to take before. It’s a really satisfying film.” 

‘Tongues Untied’

Thursday, Oct. 22, at 5 p.m., Union Cinema (FREE!)

Marlon Riggs’ still-powerful, 1989 film is an artful collection of voices and performances around what it means to be African-American and gay. A chorus of poetry, recollection and song testify to experiences of marginalization and activist resistance.

Carl’s Take: “The film department owns a couple of prints (including) Tongues Untied, which I can’t show enough. It remains, I think, the model of what a poetic manifesto about identity can be. … What’s great about it is it’s about the hardships and the marginalization that these men face by being black and gay, but also it’s a convincing celebration about the community that these men find and also the joy that they get in their identity. It’s a remarkable document.”

‘Stories of our Lives’

Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., Union Cinema

An urgent and strikingly artful anthology of five short films about the experiences of lesbians and gays in Kenya, a nation where homosexuality is criminalized. The stories unfold in high schools, urban centers and fantastical landscapes and feature rebellious high school girls, personal declarations, a black man wondering about the touch of a white guy and resistance to government oppression through dreams.

Carl’s Take: “This film has been banned since its release last October for promoting homosexuality. I must confess, when I heard about the film, I thought it was essential viewing but I was also expecting a serious collection of public service announcements. But it’s really beautifully made, really well acted.” 

‘Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party’

Sunday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m., Union Cinema

An enthralling, beautifully made drama that revolves around the birthday party of one teenage boy, growing up in a Christian household and questioning his sexuality. At a pool party thrown for Henry’s 17th birthday by his parents, including his father, the newly ordained pastor of an evangelical church, the intersection of numerous contradictory characters offers each a chance to negotiate their public self, as Henry remains swim in the emerging possibilities of ways to be.

Carl’s Take: “It’s not just about Henry. The action sort of revolves around him. In many ways I feel like it’s an essay film on the variations of the closet. For a lot of characters it has to do with issues of faith. I thought it sounded like such a stagey premise; however, it’s really well made. I think it’s a real accomplishment.”

On Screen

The 30th annual Milwaukee LGBT Film and Video Festival will run Oct. 15-25, sponsored by UWM’s Peck School of the Arts. Performances will be at either the Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave., or the UWM Union Cinema, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Tickets for Oriental Theater shows are $15, $10 for seniors and students. Tickets to Union Cinema shows are $9 general admission, $7 for seniors and Union Cinema members and, for the first time, free for all students; select films are free to all. To order, visit uwm.edu/lgbtfilmfestival.

Putting the ‘Milwaukee’ in the Milwaukee Film Festival

Most of the talk that surrounds the Milwaukee Film Festival seems to center on what’s being drawn to Milwaukee — what hit indie narratives, what special guests, what incisive documentaries. Yet equally important, if not more, is what’s already here. 

After all, the “Milwaukee” in Milwaukee Film Festival is more than just geographic.

The seventh annual installment of the city’s film fest will once again be a showcase for the work of its filmmaking community, a vibrant subculture that’s only growing, according to festival artistic director Jonathan Jackson. “I just think it’s vital to create a very visible platform to celebrate, to encourage, to expose the best local filmmaking work possible,” he says.

This year’s Cream City Cinema program, dedicated exclusively to work made by Milwaukee filmmakers, will feature five full-length features or documentaries and four separate shorts programs. 

It’s in those shorts programs in particular where the increasing growth of the community can be best seen. When Jackson and his colleagues were originally accepting submissions, they planned only to have three shorts programs, breaking out a separate “Milwaukee Music Video Show” to go with the annual “Milwaukee Show” and “Milwaukee Youth Show.”

Those plans changed when the films actually started coming in. Jackson says the festival received 177 submissions this year, an increase of 30 percent over last year and an even more admirable increase in comparison to the 40 to 50 he says was usual in the first few years of the festival. With too much high-quality work to pass up, Jackson says, they added a second program of Milwaukee shorts, with “The Milwaukee Show I” more diverse and light and “The Milwaukee Show II” dedicated to longer films with weightier subjects, including a short film called “Mothers for Justice” about the family of Dontre Hamilton and their transformation into social justice advocates after he was killed by a police officer in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park last year.

The high submission numbers also indicate that the number of filmmakers in Milwaukee is increasing. “I think of that as the biggest win in the submission process for us,” Jackson says. “We’re working on the festival every year but we’re (also) working on trying to build a community of connected filmmakers.”

Four of the five features in the Cream City Cinema series will feature at least one debut filmmaker on the production team (the outlier Yoopera!, a doc about a community of Upper Peninsula dwellers commissioning an opera about their local history, comes from director Suzanne Jurva, last seen in the inaugural festival in 2009). One that’s particularly caught Jackson’s attention is 30 Seconds Away: Breaking the Cycle, an empathetic documentary about Milwaukee’s homeless population by Faith Kohler, a former federal agent who he says had no filmmaking experience at all before partnering with producer Jessica Ferrell. “To see her use the power of film to tell this story for her community is really exciting,” he says.

Clarence, the other documentary in the series, follows Clarence Garrett, an African-American WWII veteran who, at age 85, decided to enroll at UWM to earn his bachelor’s degree, despite unanticipated medical complications. The program also features Neptune, a coming-of-age story set off the coast of Maine in the late ‘80s, and Take the Dog, about three punkers who embark on a road trip from Milwaukee to California that tests their relationships.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Milwaukee Film Festival’s local offerings is that Jackson and his team scarcely have to remind audiences the films exist. Outside of the festival’s major films, categorized as Spotlight Presentations, Cream City Cinema is the second-highest-attended program at the festival, which Jackson says is uncharacteristic of most regional film festivals and a credit to ours.

In addition to simply showing local films, the Milwaukee Film Festival offers numerous opportunities for funding and education. The Cream City Cinema program has a $5,000 cash prize for a jury-selected winner and there’s a series of community panels and a fiction film pitch contest with a separate $1,000 prize. And, for the first time, this year’s festival will mark the disbursal of the Brico Forward Fund, a new grant program that will award a total of $50,000 in cash and $75,000 in goods and services to local filmmakers. It’s a component Jackson says has been missing from the festival, and one that puts the fest on the same level as comparable regional festivals across the nation.

Milwaukee Film’s efforts to engage the local community don’t end after 15 days of festival celebrations. Jackson says that, after listening to community feedback, the organization began hosting educational events on a bimonthly basis, so filmmakers had an opportunity to stay connected. This coming year, that program will expand, occurring monthly and focusing more distinctly on educating developing filmmakers.


The Cream City Cinema series consists of nine feature films and shorts programs, spread throughout the Milwaukee Film Festival, Sept. 24 to Oct. 8. Films are screened at the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.), Downer Theatre (2589 N. Downer Ave.), Avalon Theater (2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.), Times Cinema (5906 W. Vliet St.) and Fox-Bay Cinema Grill (334 E. Silver Spring Dr.). Tickets are $12, $11 for seniors and students, $10 for Milwaukee Film members and $6 for children 12 and under. Visit milwaukeefilm.org for more details and a full festival schedule.

’30 Seconds Away:
Breaking the Cycle’

Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m., Oriental

Friday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m., Times

Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 9:45 p.m., Avalon


Monday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m., Times

Thursday, Oct. 1 at 3:15 p.m., Oriental

Saturday, Oct. 3 at 12:30 p.m., Fox-Bay

The Milwaukee Music Video Show

Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m., Oriental

The Milwaukee Show I

Sunday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m., Oriental

The Milwaukee Show II

Friday, Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m., Oriental

The Milwaukee Youth Show

Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m., Oriental


Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3:30 p.m., Times

Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m., Avalon

Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 9:30 p.m., Oriental

‘Take the Dog’

Friday, Sept. 25 at 9:30 p.m., Avalon

Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 10:15 p.m., Oriental

Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 3:15 p.m., Downer


Monday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m., Downer

Sunday, Oct. 4 at 1 p.m., Avalon

Thursday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m., Oriental 

The Cream City Cinema program isn’t the only place where moviegoers can find films with a Milwaukee or Wisconsin connection this year. Here’s some other locally connected films you can catch at this year’s festival.

‘Uncle John’

Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., Oriental

Thursday, Oct. 8 at 1 p.m., Oriental

This Spotlight Presentation, largely filmed in Prairie du Sac and Lodi, Wisconsin, tells the story of a Wisconsin farmer implicated in the sudden disappearance of a local reformed bully.

‘The Russian Woodpecker’

Friday, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m., Oriental

Sunday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m., Avalon

Directed by Chad Gracia, a South Milwaukee native, this Sundance award-winning documentary follows an eccentric Ukrainian seeking to expose secrets of the Cold War and Russia’s Chernobyl disaster.

‘Mediated realities: Videos by Jesse Mcclean’

Saturday, Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m., Oriental

This special presentation of works by avant-garde filmmaker Jesse McLean about human behavior and relationships wasn’t technically a Milwaukee-related series — until McLean joined the UWM film department this year, an unexpected boon to the festival.

Wisconsin’s Own

Saturday, Sept. 26 at 1:15 p.m., Fox-Bay

Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3:45 p.m., Downer

Monday, Oct. 5 at 10 p.m., Times

This double feature, part of the Film Feast series, includes two shorter films about two Wisconsin traditions: the supper club (Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club) and New Glarus Brewery (Tale of the Spotted Cow).

Milwaukee Film ‘experiments’ with sixth annual festival

Presenting 275 movies over 15 days, the sixth annual Milwaukee Film Festival is certainly ambitious in its cinematic scope.

But festival artistic and executive director Jonathan Jackson says the event’s ambitions go beyond screening a lot of movies. “We really strive to use (the festival) as a catalyst for community, for engagement and for celebration,” he says.

Toward that end, this year’s festival is adding new ways to expand engagement. Organizers brought on board a new venue, Times Cinema in Wauwatosa, and added new series centered around food, the arts, and African-American subjects and filmmakers.

The new series help audience members navigate the scale of the festival. “If you create these niche programs that cater toward a specific audience or have an audience focus it helps people guide their selections,” Jackson says.

But also, as in the case of the Black Lens series, the new programs expand on what film festivals can accomplish socially. Unfortunately, festivals often fail to try.

“Regional festivals around the country just don’t do an incredible job of showcasing diversity — not just on the camera but in representing the filmmakers,” Jackson says. 

The Black Lens series, inspired by the powerful reaction to last year’s audience award-winner The Incredible Defeat of Mister and Pete, is an effort to change that. In addition to screening seven works by contemporary African-American filmmakers and one classic film, Jackson says community partners will help support and present these films, and a large number of post-film conversations have already been scheduled. 


Jackson says the Black Lens series is just one example of the Milwaukee Film Festival’s emphasis on creating distinct “moments” — unforgettable experiences that are more than simply getting to see a film. In previous years, many of his favorite moments have involved the festival’s opening, closing and centerpiece films, as well as the festival’s annual tributes to important representatives from the world of film.

This year is no different. Centerpiece film Jimi: All Is By My Side is a powerful biopic about the year before Jimi Hendrix made his breakthrough at Monterey. It stars Outkast’s Andre Benjamin and directed by Milwaukee-born John Ridley (who Jackson hopes will be able to attend the screening). And the closing night film, The Surface, is a Milwaukee film 18 years in the making, a drama about two men adrift on Lake Michigan filmed right here by a local production team, many of whom will be present.

But the opening night film, 1971, might be the most exciting moment of all. The thrilling documentary tells the story of the Citizens’ Commission, a group of Americans who exposed evidence of widespread government surveillance years before Watergate or WikiLeaks. 

It’s a powerful film in its own right, but Jackson says the guests attending the opening night screening are what take it from a regular screening to something special and unique. Among them are director Johanna Hamilton and representatives of her production crew — along with some members of the Citizens’ Commission, a coup even more exciting because they only revealed their identities earlier this year.

“I think it’s going to be an extraordinary experience,” Jackson says. “This is a film about a group of citizens that saw something they didn’t think was right about their world, and they impacted it, at their peril, in an incredibly profound way.”

Also exciting to Jackson are this year’s tributes, including new works from documentarian Marshall Curry and director Debra Granik, whom he calls “two of the finest cinematic storytellers of all time.” 

Curry will screen Point and Shoot, a documentary made with and about a fellow filmmaker who joined Libyan rebels in 2011 and was captured shortly thereafter. Granik will show the documentary Stray Dog, about a Harley-riding veteran she met while casting for her breakthrough feature Winter’s Bone

Both filmmakers have strong ties to the festival. Granik visited last year to host a daylong seminar with film students and Curry’s documentary Racing Dreams was the first film screened at a Milwaukee Film Festival, back in 2009.

“To have him back — Milwaukee Film Festival’s like what he’s wrought,” Jackson says. “I can’t wait to show him where we’ve come.”


The Milwaukee Film Festival runs Sept. 25-Oct. 9, at the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.), Downer Theatre (2589 N. Downer Ave.), Fox-Bay Cinema Grill (334 E. Silver Spring Dr.) and Times Cinema (5906 W. Vliet St.). Tickets for opening night, centerpiece and closing night films are $20, $17 for Milwaukee Film members. The festival will host an opening night party at Kenilworth Square East at 9 p.m. Sept. 25. The party is free with an opening night ticket stub or festival pass, or $10 ($8 for Milwaukee Film members). Visit mkefilm.org for a full list of films and events.

Selected film schedules:

1971 Thursday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m., Oriental; Saturday, Sept. 27, at 1:45 p.m., Oriental.

Stray Dog Saturday, Sept. 27, at 7:15 p.m., Oriental; Monday, Sept. 29, at 4:15 p.m., Times.

Jimi: All Is By My Side Saturday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m., Oriental.

Point and Shoot Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., Oriental; Thursday, Oct. 9, at 5 p.m., Times.

The Surface Thursday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m., Oriental.

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PBS’ ‘Shelter Me’ puts at-risk pets in limelight

Any animal can end up at a public shelter, but most of them won’t stay long. There, millions of dogs and cats face euthanasia, driving one filmmaker to turn his camera into a lifesaver.

Workers at several of the shelters, where no animal is turned away, say pets have a champion in Steven Latham, who directs and produces a PBS series called “Shelter Me,” featuring animals that are running out of time. Seeing the urgency, he took his efforts a step further, starting a website, helping set up adoption events and coordinating flights full of pooches to cities able to get them adopted.

“The pets at open admission shelters need our help the most,” said Latham, who has made other documentary films and series for PBS and Netflix.

With thousands of public shelters nationwide and just as many no-kill rescues and other animal welfare groups, finding loving homes for pets has become a battleground. Latham believes pets at public shelters should get priority, underscoring the intense competition that exists between the no-kill movement and shelters that euthanize.

Latham’s “Shelter Me” series, presented by Ellen DeGeneres’ natural pet food company — Halo, Purely for Pets — has filmed several shelter animals that became service, therapy and search-and-rescue dogs, or just good pets. Each documentary episode tells two or three stories.

Episode 4, “Shelter Me: New Beginnings,” is scheduled to premiere in Los Angeles on Oct. 8 and features volunteers in Idaho welcoming a plane packed with shelter dogs from Southern California. It also shows a trainer teaching shelters how to hold play groups for pooches. The next episode is tentatively set for February 2015 and will highlight how East Coast police departments turn shelter dogs into K-9s.

Before the first episode of the series aired in March 2012, Latham spent a year visiting shelters around the country. Last year, he started ShelterMe.com, where people can find pets facing euthanasia.

Twenty-five shelters in California, Idaho, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina post photos, videos and stories about animals that need homes. Thousands of pets have been featured on the site, and most of them were adopted or taken in by a rescue, Latham said.

He has given a leg up to Animal Care Services of Long Beach, California, which was nearly full last week with 112 dogs, 138 cats, and some rabbits and turtles, said Kelly Miott, the shelter’s outreach coordinator.

“We have really limited space here,” she said. “That’s why Steven supports us. Euthanasia is a fact of life. We are what the no-kill people are trying to get rid of.”

Miott said she tried for years to get dogs from Long Beach on airlifts to other cities without success, but Latham made it possible. He also connected her to a store where she could hold weekend adoption fairs.

Members of the no-kill movement are “scaring volunteers away because they are making it very clear that animals are dying at our shelter. We don’t try to hide that,” Miott said.

Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society, a leading no-kill organization based in Utah, said finger-pointing won’t help animals.

“The no-kill movement seeks to collaborate with and support open admission shelters that are committed to do whatever it takes to end the killing of healthy, treatable shelter pets,” Battista said.

Latham’s website helped Alexandra Spinner of Los Angeles find a perfect feline companion last year.

“It wasn’t just a one-sided picture of a cat, but an interactive opportunity to know the animal more intimately,” she said. “I wanted a lap cat, and she was sitting there in a bright room, being petted. Had I not seen that video, I might have passed her by.”

On the Web…


Netflix makes push into documentaries

Netflix is making a push into documentaries, with the subscription service announcing deals to premiere four new films in the next few months.

Netflix has always made non-fiction films available to subscribers, but until recently they have been projects initially made for theatrical release or on television networks.

Netflix said it now wants filmmakers to make their work specifically for the service, or use Netflix to offer the first wide distribution.

The first of the four new films to be released will be “Battered Bastards of Baseball,” about a defunct minor league baseball team. It will premiere on Netflix on July 11.

“Mission Blue,” a documentary about marine biologist Sylvia Earle and her campaign to create a network of protected marine sanctuaries, is set for Aug. 15.

Later this year the service will premiere “E-Team,” a film about human rights workers from the makers of the Oscar-winning documentary “Born Into Brothels,” and “Print the Legend,” about 3-D printing.

Lisa Nishimura, head of Netflix’s documentary unit, said the service is intentionally trying to present films on a wide variety of topics. Its selling point to filmmakers is that Netflix will make the documentaries available on the service for a lengthy period of time. TV networks and theatrical releases can offer a bigger burst of attention, but the films are generally only available for a short period.

Milwaukee Film Festival announces full lineup

The Milwaukee Film Festival has announced its complete lineup — 240 films, including 103 features and 137 shorts, from 44 different countries.

The lineup includes 45 documentaries and 57 narratives, including one North American premiere on opening night and one silent classic featuring a  new live accompaniment from Milwaukee-based band Altos.

“Our programming philosophy has always been to provide the best 15 days of cinema you can find on the planet,” festival artistic and executive director Jonathan Jackson in a news release. “Looking at the line-up in its entirety, I’m confident we’ve achieved this. Milwaukee’s in for one hell of a festival.”

The lineup for the festival – Sept. 26-Oct. 10 – includes:


OPENING NIGHT FILM: Break Up Man (Schlussmacher) (Germany / 2012 / Director: Matthias Schweighöfer)

FESTIVAL CENTERPIECE: Earth feat. live accompaniment from Altos (Ukraine / 1930 / Director: Aleksandr Dovzhenko)

CLOSING NIGHT FILM: Blood Brother (USA / 2012 / Director: Steve Hoover)

After Tiller (USA / 2012 / Directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson)

The Angels’ Share (United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Italy / 2012 / Director: Ken Loach)

August: Osage County (USA / 2013 / Director: John Wells)

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (USA / 2013 / Director: Chiemi Karasawa)

Free the Mind (Denmark, Finland / 2012 / Director: Phie Ambo) 

The History of Future Folk
(USA / 2012 / Director: J. Anderson Mitchell, Jeremy Kipp Walker)

SOMM (USA / 2012 / Director: Jason Wise)

TRIBUTES: Notorious (USA / 2009 / Director: George Tillman, Jr.)

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete (USA / 2013 / Director: George Tillman, Jr.)

Blow Out (USA / 1981 / Director: Brian De Palma)

COMPETITION; 12 O’Clock Boys (USA / 2013 / Director: Lofty Nathan)

The Act of Killing (Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Joshua Oppenheimer)

Beyond the Hills (Dupa Dealuri) (Romania / 2012 / Director: Cristian Mungiu)

The Crash Reel (USA / 2013 / Director: Lucy Walker)

Post Tenebras Lux (Mexico, France, Germany, Netherlands / 2012 / Director: Carlos Reygadas)

Stories We Tell (Canada / 2012 / Director: Sarah Polley)

Upstream Color (USA / 2013 / Director: Shane Carruth)

War Witch (Rebelle) (Canada / 2012 / Director: Kim Nguyen)

Almanya, Welcome to Germany (Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland)
(Germany / 2011 / Director: Yasemin Samdereli)

Hannah Arendt (Germany / 2012 / Director: Margarethe von Trotta)

Lore (Australia, Germany, United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Cate Shortland)

Ludwig II (Germany / 2012 / Directors: Marie Noëlle, Peter Sehr)

Oh Boy (Germany / 2012 / Director: Jan Ole Gerster)

Oma & Bella (Germany / 2012 / Director: Alexa Karolinski)

This Ain’t California (Germany / 2012 / Director: Marten Persiel)

Wings of Desire (Germany / 1987 / Director: Wim Wenders)

RATED K: FOR KIDS The Land Before Time (USA, Ireland / 1988 / Director: Don Bluth)

Taking Chances (Patatje Oorlog) (Netherlands, Belgium / 2011 / Director: Nicole van Kilsdonk)

Wolf Children (Okami Kodomo No Ame To Yuki) (Japan / 2012 / Director: Mamoru Hosoda)

Zarafa (France, Belgium / 2012 / Directors: Rémi Bezançon, Jean-Christophe Lie)

Kids Shorts: Size Small

Aston’s Presents (Sweden / 2012 / Directors: Uzi Geffenblad, Lotta Geffenblad)

Choir Tour (Latvia / 2012 / Director: Edmunds Jansons)

Chopin’s Drawings (USA / 2011 / Director: Dorota Kobiela)

Eskimal (Mexico / 2011 / Director: Homero Ramirez Tena)

How Shammies Guessed (Latvia / 2012 / Director: Edmunds Jansons)

Kitten’s First Full Moon (USA / 2011 / Director: Gary McGivney)

Knuffle Bunny Free (USA / 2012 / Director: Karen Villarreal)

The Little Bird and the Leaf (Switzerland / 2012 / Director: Lena Von Döhren)

Mira’s Night (USA / 2011 / Director: Elyse Kelly)

A Tangled Tale (USA / 2013 / Director: Corrie Francis Parks)

Kids Shorts: Size Medium

Big Mouth (Canada / 2012 / Director: Andrea Dorfman)

Boris the Rat Dresses Warmly (Finland / 2012 / Directors: Kaisa Penttilä, Leena Jääskeläinen)

Chinti (Russia / 2012 / Director: Natalia Mirzoyan)

Colosse – A Wood Tale (USA / 2012 / Director: Yves Geleyn)

The Fox and the Chickadee (Canada / 2012 / Director: Evan Derushie)

Frog Weather (Germany / 2011 / Director: Pauline Kortmann)

Jonah and the Crab (USA / 2012 / Director: Laurel Cohen)

My First Spellbook (Scotland / 2011 / Director: Gavin Laing)

Paulie (USA / 2012 / Director: Andrew Nackman)

Shame and Glasses (Italy / 2013 / Director: Alessandro Riconda)

Wing (Denmark / 2011 / Directors: Asger Grevil, Mette Vestergaard Madsen) 

Kids Shorts: Size Large

Bot (USA / 2010 / Director: Mustafa Lazkani)

Eyes on the Stars (USA / 2012 / Director: The Rauch Brothers)

A Girl Named Elastika (Canada / 2012 / Director: Guillaume Blanchet)

High Noon (Venezuela / 2013 / Director: Ivan Mazza)

I’m Going to Mum’s (New Zealand / 2012 / Director: Lauren Jackson)

Krake (Germany / 2012 / Director: Regina Welker)

The Maiden and the Princess (USA / 2011 / Director: Ali Scher)

Monster, Me (USA / 2013 / Director: Milt Klingensmith)

Song of the Spindle (USA / 2011 / Director: Drew Christie)

Sounds for Mazin (Netherlands / 2012 / Director: Ingrid Kamerling)

Turning a Corner (USA / 2012 / Director: David B. Levy)

CREAM CITY CINEMA: Billy Club (USA / 2013 / Directors: Drew Rosas, Nick Sommer)

Date America (USA / 2012 / Directors: Bob Murray, Amy Neuenschwander)

The Milwaukee Show 

Before You (USA / 2013 / Director: Michael T. Vollmann)

Begong Ava, Begong Hele (USA / 2013 / Director: Heather Hass)

Cinders (USA / 2013 / Director: Andrew Gralton)

The Glitch (USA / 2013 / Director: Zijian Yan)

I Am (USA / 2013 / Director: Karim Raoul)

Love You Still (USA / 2013 / Director: Michael Viers)

Margaret Hue Would Like To Go To Mars. (USA / 2013 / Director: Anna Sampers)

Pluto and the Vessel (USA / 2013 / Director: Harrison Browning)

The Quiet City (USA / 2013 / Director: Brian McGuire)

Spectacle! (USA / 2013 / Directors: Andrew Swant, WC Tank, Erik Ljung, Kurt Raether, Carol Brandt) 

USPS (USA / 2013 / Director: Jessica Farrell)

Within A Stone’s Throw (USA / 2013 / Director: Cecelia Condit)

The Milwaukee Youth Show: Alexander Copenhagen and the Key of Destiny (USA / 2012 / Director: Thomas Fleischmann)

Birth of a Dream (USA / 2013 / Director: Megan Sai Dogra)

Copycat (USA / 2013 / Director: Hudson Miller)

#DiseasesSpreadLikeRumors (USA / 2012 / Directors: Participants in Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Programs)

#DontBeAnOffenderToThoseWhoLoveTheSameGender (USA / 2012 / Directors: Participants in Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Programs)

Flowers in Bloom (USA / 2013 / Director: Alejandra Salinas)

#ForgetTheHumpIfYouDontWantTheBump (USA / 2012 / Directors: Participants in Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Programs)

Generation Empowered: The Dream is Now (USA / 2013 / Director: LaTonya Matlock)

How Geoffrey Broke His Glasses (USA / 2012 / Director: Jamie Mercado)

In The Mind (USA / 2013 / Director: Brian Mercado)

The Journey Home (USA / 2013 / Directors: Elizabeth Zingsheim, Mara Matovich)

Night of the Beanie Babies (USA / 2013 / Directors: Josh Frank, Ryan Coenen)

Pancakes (USA / 2013 / Director: Lauren Markey, Brian Ore)
Phone Wars (USA / 2012 / Director: Holly Kraemer, Kevin Salgado)

Poppin’ (USA / 2013 / Directors: Lauren Markey, Brian Ore)

Spider Dog (USA / 2013 / Directors: Gabriella Avila, Alexia Justo)
Sun Up,Sun Down (USA / 2013 / Director: Felicia McGowan)

Toytonic (USA / 2013 / Directors: Students from Audubon Technology and Communication Center)

(USA / 2013 / Director: Brad Lichtenstein)

Sign Painters
(USA / 2013 / Directors: Faythe Levine, Sam Macon)

When the King Tilts
(USA / 2013 / Director: Drew Britton)

SOUND VISION: Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker (USA / 2013 / Director: Lily Keber)

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (USA / 2012 / Director: Drew DeNicola)

Brothers Hypnotic (USA / 2013 / Director: Reuben Atlas)

Enzo Avitabile Music Life (Italy / 2012 / Director: Jonathan Demme)

The Girls in the Band (USA / 2011 / Director: Judy Chaikin)

Muscle Shoals (USA / 2012 / Director: Greg “Freddy” Camalier)

Narco Cultura (USA / 2012 / Director: Shaul Schwarz)

Stop Making Sense (USA / 1984 / Director: Jonathan Demme)

CINEMA HOOLIGANTE: 100 Bloody Acres (Australia / 2012 / Directors: Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes)

2001: A Space Odyssey (USA, United Kingdom / 1968 / Director: Stanley Kubrick)

Enter the Dragon (USA, Hong Kong / 1973 / Director: Robert Clouse)

Here Comes the Devil (Mexico / 2012 / Director: Adrián García Bogliano)

The Rambler (USA / 2013 / Director: Calvin Lee Reeder)

Sightseers (United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Ben Wheatley)

Vanishing Waves (Lithuania, France, Belgium / 2012 / Director: Kristina Buožyt)

We Are What We Are (USA / 2013 / Director: Jim Mickle)

SHORTER IS BETTER: Shorts: The Best Damn F*#@ing Midnight Program Ever. Sh*t. Total running time: 83 min

The Apocalypse (USA / 2012 / Director: Andrew Zuchero)

The Cub (USA / 2012 / Director: Riley Stearns)

Flytopia (United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Karni Arieli, Saul Freed)

Hell No (USA / 2013 / Director: Joe Nicolosi)

It’s Not You, It’s Me (USA / 2012 / Director: Matt Spicer)

Oh Sheep! (Germany / 2012 / Director: Gottfried Mentor)

Perfect Drug (Belgium / 2012 / Director: Toon Aerts)

Sea Pig (USA / 2013 / Directors: Andrew Gilchrist, Jesse Allen)

Swarming (Kuhina) (Finland / 2011 / Director: Joni Männistö)

Shorts: Date Night

Total running time: 95 min

The Bird Spider (La Migala) (Spain / 2011 / Director: Jaime Dezcallar)

CRUSH 472 (United Kingdom / 2013 / Director: Jess Scott-Hunter)

The Date (Treffit) (Finland / 2012 / Director: Jenni Toivoniemi)

Ellen Is Leaving (New Zealand / 2012 / Director: Michelle Savill)

Routine (Rutina) (Spain / 2012 / Director: Ana Ortiz)

Taboulé (Spain / 2011 / Director: Richard García)

Ten Thousand Days (New Zealand / 2012 / Director: Michael Duignan)

Tram (France, Czech Republic / 2012 / Director: Michaela Pavlátová)

Undress Me (Ta Av Mig) (Sweden / 2013 / Director: Victor Lindgren)

Shorts: Let’s Get Animated

Total running time: 82 min

Bird Food (Ireland / 2012 / Director: Richard Keane)

Boles (Germany / 2013 / Director: Spela Cadez)

I Am Tom Moody (United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Ainslie Henderson)

Irish Folk Furniture (Ireland / 2012 / Director: Tony Donoghue)

Jonah (Tanzania, United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Kibwe Tavares)

Marcel, King of Tervuren (USA / 2012 / Director: Tom Schroeder)

Oh Willy… (Belgium, France, Netherlands / 2012 / Directors: Marc James Roels, Emma De Swaef)

Palmipedarium (France / 2012 / Director: Jérémy Clapin)

Shorts: …Make Lemonade

Total running time: 88 min

All Souls’ Day (Swieto Zmarlych) (Poland / 2012 / Director: Aleksandra Terpińska)

Fear of Flying (Ireland / 2012 / Director: Conor Finnegan)

Keys. Wallet. Phone. (Germany / 2012 / Director: Juliet Lashinsky-Revene)

Summer Vacation (Hofesh Gadol) (Israel / 2012 / Directors: Sharon Maymon, Tal Granit)

Walking the Dogs (United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Jeremy Brock)

Shorts: Modern Families

Total running time: 84 min

Anna and Jerome (France / 2012 / Director: Melanie Delloye)

Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? (Pitaako mun Kaikki Hoitaa?) (Finland / 2011 / Director: Selma Vihunen)

Dotty (New Zealand / 2012 / Directors: Mick Andrews, Brett O’Gorman)

F**k the Parents (USA / 2012 / Director: Ethan Kuperberg)

Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven (Morfar och jag och helikoptern till himlen) (Sweden / 2013 / Directors: Asa Blanck, Johan Palmgren)

Mobile Homes (USA, France / 2013 / Director: Vladimir de Fontenay)

Mud Crab (Australia / 2012 / Directors: Igor Coric, Sheldon Lieberman)

My Favorite Picture of You (USA / 2013 / Directors: Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin)

Shorts: Obsession

Total running time: 89 min

Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke (Australia / 2012 / Director: Mirrah Foulkes)

Eating Lunch (Äta Lunch) (Sweden / 2012 / Director: Sanna Lenken)

Georgena Terry (USA / 2012 / Director: Amanda Zackem)

GUN (USA / 2012 / Director: Spencer Gillis)

Peach Juice (Canada / 2012 / Directors: Callum Paterson, Nathan Gilliss, Brian Lye)

The Roper (USA / 2012 / Directors: Ewan McNicol, Anna Sandilands)

The Tuner (O Afinador) (Brazil / 2012 / Directors: Fernando Camargo, Matheus Parizi)

Woody (Australia / 2013 / Director: Stuart Bowen)

Shorts: Out of This World

Total running time: 91 min

The Captain (Australia, USA / 2013 / Directors: Nash Edgerton, Spencer Susser)

Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? (USA / 2012 / Director: Jason Willis)

Delicacy (USA / 2012 / Director: Jason Mann)

Dust (United Kingdom / 2013 / Directors: Ben Ockrent, Jake Russell)

Edmond Was a Donkey (Edmond Était un Âne) (Canada, France / 2012 / Director: Franck Dion)

Hotel (Spain / 2012 / Director: Jose Luis Aleman)

Record/Play (United Kingdom, Bosnia / 2012 / Director: Jesse Atlas)

Shelved (New Zealand / 2011 / Director: James Cunningham)

Ufologist (USA / 2012 / Directors: Ewan McNicol, Anna Sandilands)

Shorts: Stranger Than Fiction

Total running time: 102 min

Eddie Adams: Saigon ‘68 (USA / 2012 / Director: Douglas Sloan)

The Flogsta Roar (Flogstavrålet) (Sweden / 2013 / Director: Johan Palmgren)

Mr. Christmas (USA / 2012 / Director: Nick Palmer)

Pouters (United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Paul Fegan)

Unravel (United Kingdom, India / 2012 / Director: Meghna Gupta)

Vladimir Putin In Deep Concentration (USA / 2013 / Directors: Dana O’Keefe, Sasha Kliment)

We Will Live Again (USA / 2013 / Directors: Joshua Koury, Myles Kane)

DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL FAVORITES: American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (USA / 2013 / Director: Grace Lee)

Band of Sisters (USA / 2012 / Director: Mary Fishman)

Becoming Traviata (France / 2012 / Director: Philippe Béziat)

Bound by Flesh (USA / 2012 / Director: Leslie Zemeckis)

Breathing Earth (Germany, United Kingdom / 2012 / Director: Thomas Riedelsheimer)

Citizen Koch (USA / 2012 / Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin)

Fatal Assistance (Assistance Mortelle) (France, Haiti, USA, Belgium / 2013 / Director: Raoul Peck)

God Loves Uganda (USA / 2013 / Director: Roger Ross Williams)

Google and the World Brain (Spain, United Kingdom / 2013 / Director: Ben Lewis)

If You Build It (USA / 2013 / Director: Patrick Creadon)

Informant (USA / 2012 / Director: Jamie Meltzer)

The Institute (USA / 2012 / Director: Spencer McCall)

Maidentrip (USA / 2013 / Director: Jillian Schlesinger)

More Than Honey (Germany / 2012 / Director: Markus Imhoof)

Mussels in Love (Netherlands, Belgium / 2012 / Director: Willemiek Kluijfhout)

Pandora’s Promise (USA / 2013 / Director: Robert Stone)

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (United Kingdom, Ireland / 2012 / Director: Sophie Fiennes)

Remote Area Medical (USA / 2013 / Directors: Jeff Reichert, Farihah Zaman)

Rising From Ashes (USA, Rwanda, United Kingdom, South Africa / 2012 / Director: T.C. Johnstone)

Spinning Plates (USA / 2012 / Director: Joseph Levy)

Unhung Hero (USA / 2013 / Director: Brian Spitz)

Valentine Road (USA / 2012 / Director: Marta Cunningham)

When I Walk (USA, Canada / 2013 / Director: Jason DaSilva)

Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington
(USA / 2012 / Director: Sebastian Junger)

FICTION FESTIVAL FAVORITES: 2+2 (Dos Más Dos) (Argentina / 2013 / Director: Diego Kaplan)

Aayna Ka Bayna (India / 2012 / Director: Samit Kakkad)

The Almost Man (Norway / 2012 / Director: Martin Lund)

Blancanieves (Spain, France / 2012 / Director: Pablo Berger)

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium, Netherlands / 2012 / Director: Felix van Groeningen)

Closed Curtain (Pardé) (Iran / 2013 / Directors: Jafar Panahi, Kamboziya Partovi)

Drug War (Du Zhan) (Hong Kong / 2012 / Director: Johnnie To)

Fanie Fourie’s Lobola (South Africa / 2013 / Director: Henk Pretorius)

Finding Mr. Right (China, Hong Kong / 2013 / Director: Xue Xiaolu)

A Hijacking (Kapringen) (Denmark / 2012 / Director: Tobias Lindholm)

House With a Turret (Dom S Bashenkoy) (Ukraine / 2012 / Director: Eva Neymann)

In The House (Dans La Maison) (France / 2012 / Director: François Ozon)

Key of Life (Kagidorobou No Method) (Japan / 2012 / Director: Kenji Uchida)

Laurence Anyways (Canada / 2012 / Director: Xavier Dolan)

Northwest (Nordvest) (Denmark / 2013 / Director: Michael Noer)

Once Upon a Time Veronica (Brazil, France / 2012 / Director: Marcelo Gomes)

Paradise: Hope (Paradies: Hoffnung) (Germany / 2013 / Director: Ulrich Seidl)

Picture Day (Canada / 2012 / Director: Kate Melville)

The Pirogue (La Pirogue) (France, Senegal / 2012 / Director: Moussa Touré) 

Reality (Italy, France / 2012 / Director: Matteo Garrone)

Something in the Air (Après mai) (France / 2012 / Director: Olivier Assayas)

Tanta Agua (Uruguay, Mexico, Netherlands, Germany / 2013 / Directors: Ana Guevara, Leticia Jorge)

This is Martin Bonner (USA / 2013 / Director: Chad Hartigan)

Zaytoun (United Kingdom, Israel, France / 2012 / Director: Eran Riklis)