Sundance Film Festival

“Knock Down the House,” the exhilarating documentary that followed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez run for Congress last year along will three other first-time female candidates, was the winner of the Festival Favorite Award from the Sundance Institute last month.

The new documentary, directed by Rachel Lears, will have its Madison premiere at this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival early next month.

“Knock Down the House,” which beat out 120 others features that screened at the fest, follows Ocasio-Cortez and her rise from working-class bartender to national figure. The documentary also follows three other female political candidates from around the country during the 2018 mid-term elections and tells the stories of a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri.

The 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival, held April 4-11, is known for its diverse film offerings including American independent, international cinema, documentaries, experimental and avant-garde, and restored classics. They will officially announce their full schedule on Wednesday, March 6, at a special “First Look at the Fest” event at AMC Madison 6 at Hilldale.

The Wisconsin Film Festival is presented by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of the Arts in association with the Department of Communication Arts and is the largest university-produced film festival. This year the Wisconsin Film Festival screens over 150 films ranging from shorts to features. Along with “Knock Down the House,” the following 9 films are just a small preview of what is in store for the Festival:

◆ “Woman at War/Kona fer í stríð” | Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Opening Night Selection. Armed with a bow-and-arrow, a lone woman takes on heavy industry in an Icelandic comedy that turns saving the world into an offbeat thrill ride.

◆ “Good Morning/Ohayo” | Director: Yasujiro Ozu
A 35mm presentation of Ozu’s masterpiece is the personal selection of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” director and UW–Madison alum Phil Johnston, who will participate in a post-film conversation with UW–Madison Professor Emeritus David Bordwell.

◆ “Long Day’s Journey Into Night/Di qiu zui hou de ye wan” | Director: Bi Gan
3D is used to virtuoso ends in this arthouse neo-noir, which culminates in a mind-bending, 55-minute 3D tracking shot.


◆ “Rafiki” | Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Kenya’s first entry at the Cannes Film Festival, this vibrant lesbian drama was banned in its home country for its positive representation of a same-sex romance.

◆ “Hail Satan?” | Director: Penny Lane
Peek behind the blood-red curtain of the Satanic Temple in this devilishly hilarious and blessedly freethinking documentary. 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

◆ “Light From Light” | Director: Paul Harrill
A paranormal investigator takes a case from a widower (Jim Gaffigan) in Paul Harrill’s thoughtful and compassionate indie.

◆ “Between the Lines” | Director: Joan Micklin Silver
Joan Micklin Silver’s 1977 ode to counterculture alternative weeklies features a young Jeff Goldblum.

◆ “Los Reyes” | Directors: Bettina Perut, Iván Osnovikoff
An inseparable pair of stray dogs roam a Santiago skate park in this immersive documentary.

◆ “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” | Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
A suitably reverent portrait of one of America’s essential writers, this intimate documentary grants us the gift of hearing Toni Morrison tell her own story.