Madison Film Forum meets to view "Leviathan" (2014), 7 pm, 3/17, Sundance Cinemas 608; post-screening discussion. Screening $12. www.madfilm.org
Madison Film Forum (madfilm.org) continues weekly Madfilm Meetups throughout 2015, including three consecutive Tuesday night screenings in March at Sundance Cinemas:
Mr. Turner--March 3, 7:00pm
What We Do in the Shadows--March 10, 7:00pm
Leviathan--March 17, 7:00pm
Starting Tuesday, March 3, the Madison Film Forum (madfilm.org) will organize three consecutive Tuesday night "Madfilm Meetups" for Screening Room Calendar films at Sundance Cinemas (Hilldale Shopping Center, 430 N. Midvale Boulevard). Each Meetup will begin at 7:00pm before the early evening shows, and will conclude with informal post-screening discussions in the Sundance Overflow Bar or Great Dane's Hilldale location. Screening times will be updated at madfilm.org and the Madison Film Forum Facebook page as soon they are announced by Sundance Cinemas.
- Tuesday, March 3, meet at 7:00pm (showtime updated on February 24):
Mr. Turner | Directed by Mike Leigh | UK | 2014 | 149 minutes.
This Meetup will coincide with a Sundance-sponsored post-screening discussion in the Sundance Overflow Bar with Rob Thomas, film critic for the Capital Times.
- Tuesday, March 10, meet at 7:00pm (showtime updated on March 2):
What We Do in the Shadows | Directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi | New Zealand | 2014 | 85 minutes. Post-screening discussion at The Great Dane, Hilldale.
- Tuesday, March 17, meet at 7:00pm (showtime updated on March 9):
Leviathan | Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev | Russia | 2014 | 141 minutes. Post-screening discussion at The Great Dane, Hilldale.
Background on "Madfilm Meetups"
Since February of 2014, the Madison Film Forum has organized "Madfilm Meetups" for local filmgoers to meet and view together current films at Madison theaters. Led by Forum co-founders James Kreul and Jake Smith, the Madfilm Meetups convened for over 40 feature films in its first year, including trips to the Highway 18 Outdoor Theater in Jefferson and matinees of Bollywood features at AMC Star Fitchburg 18. A summary of the 2014 Madfilm Meetups can be found at http://madfilm.org/?p=3720460.
"We tried to pick films worth seeing every week, and we were surprised how many weeks in a row we could maintain a high degree of quality," explains Kreul, whose previous local film experience includes programming for the inaugural Wisconsin Film Festival in 1999. "In our first year, the average Tomatometer rating at Rotten Tomatoes for our selections was 85% (positive reviews), but if you excluded the drive-in and Bollywood films, which often brought the Tomatometer numbers down, the average was around 90%."
Attendance at Meetups has ranged from 3 to 15, with only madfilm.com and social media used for publicity. "We often make Meetup selections less than a week in advance to catch the films that sneak in and out of town quickly, but that leaves us with limited publicity options," Kreul explains. "We know that Meetup turnouts can improve because every week we see crowds out at the movies on Tuesday nights. Coordinating with the Sundance Screening Room Calendar for three consecutive weeks in March gives us more time to get the word out to media outlets while still catching great films with only week-long theatrical runs."
Jake Smith points to these three March films as particularly exciting choices for the Meetups. "We'll have a vampire comedy starring Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords sandwiched between a Mike Leigh period piece and one of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. We like to see Hollywood films as much as anyone, but it's important to us to support a wider range of films in the community, so we can help perpetuate their theatrical availability in Madison, a place with a rich history as a film town."
Throughout 2015, most Madfilm Meetups will be held at Tuesday night early evening screenings at either Sundance Cinemas (for their independent and international programming), or at Marcus Theaters (to take advantage of Marcus's $5 Movie Tuesday admission price). Post-screening discussions will be held at locally owned establishments including Great Dane (Hilldale) and Merchant (South Pinckney Street). "This year we will include more critically divisive films to make the discussions more vibrant," Kreul explains, "but the discussions are social occasions, not academic debates, and everyone who loves going to the movies is welcome to join us and join in."
Meetups in 2015 have included Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, Michael Mann's Blackhat, Ava DuVernay's Selma, J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year, the 2015 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts program, and a weekend matinee of Gautham Menon's Tamil-language Kollywood thriller, Yennai Arindhaal. Details about upcoming Madfilm Meetups can be found at two locations online:
Madison Film Forum website: http://madfilm.org/category/madfilm-meetup/
Madison Film Forum Facebook page: http://facebook.com/madfilmforum
Background on the Madison Film Forum
James Kreul and Jake Smith established the local cinema website Madison Film Forum in early 2014 to encourage Madison's cineastes to stream one great film a week, attend one great film every month, and meet others doing the same. They were soon joined by Taylor Hanley, who contributed to the Forum's extensive coverage of the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival. Weekly articles include links to classic and contemporary films at streaming resources (not just Netflix) and reviews of theatrical and alternative screenings in Madison. "Along with our Meetups, we want our reviews and our streaming links to serve as conversation starters," Smith says.
Another feature, the Forum's "Alternative Screening Calendar," provides an aggregate of local film calendars from the UW-Cinematheque, Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee, Sundance Cinemas Screening Room Calendar, AMC Theaters' Bollywood programming, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Spotlight Cinema, and other film venues (http://madfilm.org/calendar/).
The long term goals of the Madison Film Forum include educating Madison's film community utilizing both streaming and local video resources (Four Star Video Cooperative and the Madison Public Library), and building a stronger exhibition market where alternative fare can once again receive full theatrical runs. "The current Madison film market is in an odd place where many important films are only getting single screenings at non-theatrical engagements rather than full week-long theatrical runs," Kreul explains. "The only way to change the market is to get people to go to alternative films in the theaters, and to do that people have to know about films beyond the mainstream. The Madison Film Forum will guide its readers to alternative fare that is streaming and on DVD, in the hopes that an informed audience will support similar films when they play in town. Just as importantly, we will go to the films in the theaters and invite people to join us at the Madfilm Meetups."
Kreul points to the rise of Indian popular cinema (Bollywood, Kollywood, and Tollywood) in Milwaukee and Madison as an example of how filmgoers can influence changes in the market by supporting films at theaters. "AMC and Marcus Theaters are now showing more Indian popular cinema (in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu languages) than European and international film festival fare in Madison," Kreul explains, "But they only started doing so because a viable market for Indian popular cinema exists, and they will only continue as long as the market justifies screening them. If we want films from a wider range of sources in Madison, we have to support those films when they do play here."
Despite the rise of online streaming, Madison still maintains an active audience for new releases in the theaters. "We picked Tuesday nights for the Meetups because Marcus Theaters are often packed for their $5 Movie Tuesdays," Kreul observed, "The lobby is full and concession lines are long, but the audiences for alternative fare on Tuesday nights are disappointingly small. If a fraction of the existing Tuesday night audience joined us for the Meetups, we could significantly influence the Madison film market."
March Madfilm Meetup Films
Mr. Turner is the latest film from acclaimed British director Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies; Topsy Turvy; Vera Drake). Timothy Spall stars as eccentric J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), the English Romanticist landscape painter, in the last 25 years of his life. "With his incomparable Mr. Turner," David Edelstein writes at Vulture, "Mike Leigh continues to make other directors look simple minded." A.O. Scott at The New York Times concludes, "Mr. Turner is a mighty work of critical imagination, a loving, unsentimental portrait of a rare creative soul."
What We Do in the Shadows is the latest comedy from co-directors and co-stars Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark; Boy). Using the faux-documentary format, the film follows the lives of three vampire housemates in New Zealand, who must balance the pressures of being an immortal with the mundane tasks of modern life. "Here it is at long last: a truly great vampire comedy," writes Dan Jolin at Empire Magazine, "and also the funniest horror film to come out of New Zealand since Braindead." Drew Taylor at The Playlist concludes, "What We Do in the Shadows is the type of little movie that you watch and feel like you've discovered something really special. It's a total surprise; a silly, scary delight."
Leviathan, the latest feature from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return; Elena), won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and it is a front-runner for an Oscar in the same category. In a small coastal town a corrupt mayor attempts to take land and property from a family of three: Nikolai, Lilya, and their teenage son Romka. Nikolai fights back by hiring an old army buddy who has become a successful attorney. "This is quite a movie," observes Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, "a bitter and compassionate work of genius that will reward repeat viewings and keep on getting better." Kenneth Turan at The Los Angeles Times concludes, "Bleak and relentless as well as impeccably made, biblical in its name as well as its moral outrage at the powerlessness of the individual in the face of unchecked authority, Leviathan is dealing with nothing less than the current state of Russia's soul."
For more information contact James Kreul at email@example.com, 608-535-9370.