2019 Milwaukee Film Festival – Day One – I WANT MY MTV
The 2019 Milwaukee Film Festival kicked off yesterday with high expectations. It was overcast and a little chilly, but expectations are high going in to the festival. Between the addition of new venues, some subtle changes to the community partners program, and a slew of big name films, it’s clear that they want to make this the biggest Milwaukee film festival ever and set some new attendance records.
The Milwaukee Film Festival, in its 11th year, is probably a little young to say traditionally about. Nevertheless, traditionally, the first day of the festival is a big party with an opening night film that’s meant to set a party mood. This year that means the documentary I WANT MY MTV about the groundbreaking and once iconic cable staple.
Going in to I WANT MY MTV, especially as one old enough to have experienced it first hand in the 80s in my teen years, I had certain expectations. Big name celebrities, behind the scenes tales, maybe a little dirt, a look at some of the controversies, and how the channels once iconic format died off.
And that’s pretty much what it delivers. Now, I’m not going to deny that it’s often fun and pushes all my nostalgia buttons. It covers a lot of ground and is always good natured but clear headed about the era. But, it most certainly does not cut deep.
About the deepest I WANT MY MTV cuts is when it gets in to the early days of MTV and the lack of African-American artists on the channel. Mark Goodman, to his credit, fully cops to embarrassing himself when called out by David Bowie in an interview. And the story turns how to they turned to Michael Jackson as a “safe” artist to recruit to the channel. It’s an intriguing bit of reflection and perhaps a statement on how, with prodding, the station did make a cultural difference. There’s a later followup to how long it took for MTV to turn to hip hop as well. But, if you’re looking for a central thesis, you’re not going to find much.
I WANT MY MTV is the broad overview that perhaps sets the stage for a more incisive portrait. Perhaps in the form of a fictional movie. It’s light, fast, and doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it’s more entertaining than truly informative.
To Milwaukee Film’s credit, opening night doesn’t rely merely on the movie, it’s a live event. Speeches are given to an enthusiastic crowd. New promos are screened which help give the film festival flavor. And guests are in attendance. In particular, the co-director of I WANT MY MTV told the story of how he met his wife, a fellow filmmaker, at the Milwaukee Film Festival in 2015. With a picture of the couple together with their cute child. That melted the crowd.
And, as always, going to opening night isn’t just limited to seeing a movie. The Milwaukee Film Festival hosts a big party at Good City Brewing, just a few blocks away. Food, drink, music, and a chance to mingle and celebrate the start of a terrific community event is always on tap. It’s always a good time.
Things get serious on Day Two.
I WANT MY MTV plays once more at the Milwaukee Film Festival on Saturday, October 19th at 3:45 pm at the Broadway Theatre Center. The 2019 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from October 17, 2019 to October 31, 2019. Information and tickets can be found at Milwaukee Film’s website mkefilm.org.