Must-see movies at the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Film Festival is back and for the first time since 2019, largely in-person.

The 14th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival announced its full lineup of 284 films on Thursday, with options for both in-person and virtual screenings.

The entire lineup features films from 43 countries, and 48% of the lineup has been made by women and non-binary directors. Several selections were favorites from Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, South by Southwest and Sundance Film Festival.

While there are a handful of options to choose from, here are some standouts not to be missed.


The Pez Outlaw (2022)

6:30 p.m. | April 21 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema
3:15 p.m. | April 22 | Oriental Theatre: Herzfeld Cinema

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Steve Glew flew to Europe to smuggle limited edition Pez dispensers into the U.S. illegally. He practically became rich overnight, but was also thrust into the cutthroat world of Pez dispenser collecting. The mad-but-true documentary is the Milwaukee Film Festival’s opening night film and received a lot of love at South by Southwest.

892 (2022)

9:30 p.m. | April 23 | Oriental Theatre: Herzfeld Cinema
10 a.m. | April 24 | Virtual availability begins
9:30 p.m. | May 2 | Oriental Theatre: Lubar Cinema

Based on a true story, John Boyega portrays Marine war veteran Brian Brown-Easley as he demands what he is owed and turns the national eye towards the plight of American soldiers trying to reintegrate into civilian society. “892” won a Special Jury Award for an Ensemble Cast at Sundance.

Memoria (2021)

7:30 p.m. | April 24 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema

From Palme D’or-winning director Apichatpong Weerasethakul comes a bewildering drama about a Scottish woman, played by Tilda Swinton, who, after hearing a loud bang at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this past year.

The Good Boss (2021)

3:30 p.m. | May 1 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema

A big winner of Spain’s prestigious Goya awards, Javier Bardem stars in the social satire as Blanco, the charismatic owner of a family-run factory, who is under pressure as he covets a local award for business excellence.

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022)

6:30 p.m. | May 1 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema

Starring Dakota Johnson and Cooper Raiff, the romantic comedy-drama follows Andrew, who feels adrift after college until he discovers a newfound talent as a party-starter at his brother’s classmates’ bar and bat mitzvahs. When Andrew befriends a local mom, Domino, and her daughter, Lola, he thinks he may have found a future he actually wants. The film won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance.

Utama (2022)

Noon | April 22 | Oriental Theatre: Lubar Cinema
10 a.m. | April 23 | Virtual availability begins
3 p.m. | April 27 | Oriental Theatre: Lubar Cinema

The winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema, the film follows an elderly Quechua couple that has been living the same daily routine for years. When an uncommonly long drought threatens their entire way of life, Virginio and Sisa face the dilemma of resisting or being defeated by the passage of time.

Mama Bears (2022)

1:45 p.m. | April 23 | Oriental Theatre: Lubar Cinema
10 a.m. | April 24 | Virtual availability begins
3:15 p.m. | April 27 | Avalon Theater

The documentary follows several evangelical Christian women who risk losing friends, family and faith communities to keep their LGBTQ+ children safe, even if it challenges their belief systems. “Mama Bears” screened at South by Southwest and has become a festival favorite.

The Thing (1982)

8 p.m. | April 28 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema

Milwaukee Film and RadioMilwaukee are teaming up for an unforgettable 40th anniversary screening of John Carpenter’s horror classic “The Thing” on 35mm.

Navalny (2022)

6 p.m. | April 29 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema

The festival’s centerpiece is a timely, thrilling documentary that centers on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he falls deathly ill on a plane in 2020 and doctors confirm that he was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent used in attacks on other dissidents. Despite President Vladimir Putin’s denials of involvement, Navalny, investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat and others investigate his attempted assassination.

Petite Maman (2021)

8 p.m. | May 5 | Oriental Theatre: Abele Cinema

The closing night film comes from director Céline Sciamma, the director of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” “Petite Maman” follows eight-year-old Nelly as she travels to her mom’s childhood home after the death of her grandmother. As Nelly explores the house and nearby woods, she befriends a neighbor her own age to whom she bears a striking resemblance. The film premiered at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival and was another highlight of the Toronto International Film Festival.


The festival will be held from April 21 – May 5. Both in-person and virtual ticket options are now available here. Click here to view the entire Milwaukee Film Festival lineup.

Sixty-nine of the 134 feature films will be available digitally, as well as all 150 short films.

The Milwaukee Film Festival is presented by Associated Bank.