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2017 Milwaukee Film Festival – Review – SWIM TEAM

Posted on Sep 30, 2017 by | 0 comments

SWIM TEAM, playing as part of the Sportsball! program at the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival, wastes no time in establishing just what it’s central appeal is going to be. It’s aiming to be an uplifting human interest story about people with autism overcoming obstacles through the sport of swimming. It’s 100% clear what it’s intentions are from the very beginning and there are no surprises.

And, you know what? A story this inspiring doesn’t have to resort to twists and surprises to be deeply satisfying, it just has to show its premise play out.

SWIM TEAM, like LIFE ANIMATED which opened the 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival, is aiming to provide some humanity and dignity to those that suffer from autism. And, it’s completely effective in showing that while not shying away from the challenges facing the main characters and their parents. It’s also pretty effective in showing that at least two of the main characters are really excellent athletes who have will and discipline to excel at their sport. It’s not an easy road, and the film shows the lack of support that the parents receive from the community in quite clear terms, but there’s certainly the hope that if these athletes can succeed in this discipline through training, patience, and love, there’s hope for them to find their way through life as they turn into adults. And that’s a message that truly resonates.

If they’re using sports as a microcosm of life, it’s a metaphor that works. The film focuses primarily on three members of the SWIM TEAM, and that focus allows all three to emerge as compelling, interesting characters in their own right, with their own interests and their own struggles. There’s reason to get invested in their journey, and it’s affecting when they succeed. It’s a simple concept for a documentary, but one that’s executed with a lot of love and skill. It’s very worth seeing.

SWIM TEAM is playing once more at the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival on Saturday, September 30th, at 6:00 pm pm at the Oriental Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at the Milwaukee Film Festival website or at box office locations at various venues. The 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from September 28 to October 12, 2017.

Robert Reineke
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