2018 Milwaukee Film Festival – Day One – SCIENCE FAIR
The 10th Milwaukee Film Festival has high aspirations. It moved back a few weeks in an effort to get higher profile films, but also right into a buzzsaw of competition. It also moved into chillier days and nights. There are high hopes that one of the fastest growing film festivals in the country will continue to grow and thrive and we’ll have to see how it plays out. In the meantime, it’s no secret that the Milwaukee Film Festival likes to start things out with a feel good party. To that end, the opening night film is the crowd pleasing documentary SCIENCE FAIR.
It doesn’t hurt that SCIENCE FAIR is a total winner. Some of the kids have an ego. But, it’s okay to have a little bit of an ego when you do some of the amazing things that are featured. And the lack of cynicism from everyone involved is especially refreshing. It’s cliche’ to say that everybody in the film is a winner, but I was blown away at the inspiration, talent, and hard work shown throughout the film. Someone at the Science Fair competition may very well change the world. And it very well could be someone that didn’t even place. It gives hope that the future of the world is in good hands. Frankly, it’s a bit inspiring.
Beyond the obviously winning kids, the film clearly places value on science and learning as a way to solve important problems in the world. Nobody in SCIENCE FAIR is bragging about how much money they’ll make. Rather, these high schoolers are more concerned about getting into a good college. And they want to change the world for the better. And, of course, there are the schools where a student going to a national science fair is an afterthought to the football team, even when the football team is awful. The film certainly does question the values of some schools. And it gives due credit to all the students who are eligible for the international science fair despite poverty, lack of support, etc. And there are others that are clearly marvelous schools full of support and mentorship. And if the film chooses to carve out moments to make clear how much they perceive that there is an imbalance to be righted, the filmmakers certainly earn it.
It doesn’t hurt that SCIENCE FAIR has a Milwaukee connection in co-director Cristina Costantini. Sharing duties with Darren Foster, both making their feature debuts, SCIENCE FAIR displays a high degree of polish. I perhaps wish they had done a better job of explaining what the presentations by these kids meant, I’m sure the kids could explain it succinctly, but I was having too much fun to complain. And the audience was really into it, spontaneously breaking into applause at parts. As far as opening night films go, this was a bullseye and one of the best opening night experiences that festival has had.
Following the movie there was the ever popular opening night party at Good City Brewing. What’s there to say about an event that provides high quality food, beverages, and music except that everyone was clearly having a great time. Alas, an early call in to work means I had to cut it short, but there’s a long festival ahead.
And with that, the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival is off and running.
There’s one more chance to catch SCIENCE FAIR as it plays on Sunday, October 21st at 11 am at the Oriental Theatre. The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from October 18, 2018 to November 1, 2018. Information and tickets can be found at Milwaukee Film’s website mkefilm.org.