Arts, Film & Music

Director’s Cut season finale: John Whitehead

We wrap up Season 12 of Director’s Cut with an excellent music documentary. Director John Whitehead rolls into town to discuss his film Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops Story.

A documentary portrait of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a string band from Raleigh, North Carolina, and their mentor, fiddler Joe Thompson (1919—2012). The film captures how three musicians from the hip-hop generation embraced a 19th-century genre and took it to new heights, winning a Grammy in 2010. The story of the band’s rise, from busking on the street to playing major festivals, is informed by the history of the banjo’s origins in Africa, and the untold story of the black string band tradition.

Read on to learn how this film owes its existence to great timing – and see a special bonus video from right here at WPT!

Continue reading Director’s Cut season finale: John Whitehead

Celebrate LGBTQ Pride this June on WPT!

Diverse perspectives contribute greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the culture and diversity of Wisconsin residents. Fifty years after the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969 (read more here!), Wisconsin Public Television is pleased to share Pride Month programs honoring many facets of LGBTQ life and history.

Read on for a selection of scripted and nonfiction programs airing this month, as well as exciting multimedia content from StoryCorps – that needs your story, too!

Continue reading Celebrate LGBTQ Pride this June on WPT!

Director’s Cut: Yinan Wang, Yujin Wang and Dick Blau, Yen Ching

While watching this week’s Director’s Cut, prepare to find yourself craving Chinese food (I’m a Kung Pao Chicken guy).

The documentary Yen Ching takes us to a Chinese restaurant on Milwaukee’s northwest side, watching the family dynamics in play.

Yen Ching (5 mins) from Yinan Wang on Vimeo.

Yen Ching takes an intimate look at how a typical Chinese restaurant owner, and his children, practice their very different American dreams. The film sheds light on their lives as it explores the owner’s dilemma. Neither of his sons, for very different reasons, want to follow the traditional Chinese/Chinese-American path in which children take over the family business.

Read on to learn more about this film, as well as director Yinin Wang’s unique connection to his subjects!

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Yinan Wang, Yujin Wang and Dick Blau, Yen Ching

Director’s Cut: Shorts

This week on Director’s Cutwe switch things up a bit by focusing on short films. Tune in as I welcome six directors to discuss their work ranging in genre from comedy to drama to the slightly sci-fi – even a touch of the supernatural! It’ll be a fast-paced show, as I only have a few minutes with each director. Short films = short interviews. 

Read on for more!

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Shorts

Director’s Cut: Keri Pickett and Roy Blakey, The Fabulous Ice Age

It’s all about about the golden age of figure skating on this week’s Director’s Cut! I was delighted to welcome director/producer/cinematographer Keri Pickett and one of her subjects, Roy Blakey, discussing their documentary The Fabulous Ice Age.

The Fabulous Ice Age trailer from Keri Pickett on Vimeo.

The journey begins in 1915, when a young German skater ignites America’s love with dancing on ice. The Fabulous Ice Age chronicles a century of theatrical skating: from Berlin’s Charlotte to America’s Ice Follies, Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and the Sonja Henie shows, illustrating how they dominated live entertainment for decades while also depicting one skater’s quest to share this history.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with Pickett and Blakey!

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Keri Pickett and Roy Blakey, The Fabulous Ice Age

Director’s Cut: Carol Brandt, Pet Names

This week on Director’s Cut, it’s my pleasure to welcome director Carol Brandt, discussing her film Pet Names.

Pet Names | Official Trailer from Carol Brandt on Vimeo.

When her chemotherapy-patient mother urges her to take a vacation from playing nurse, grad school dropout Leigh invites her old high school boyfriend along on a camping trip. The two soon find that confronting old wounds during a weekend in the woods is anything but restful.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with director Carol Brandt!

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Carol Brandt, Pet Names

Director’s Cut: Michael McGuire, “Aquarians”

Welcome to Season 12 of Director’s Cut on Wisconsin Public Television. Helping us shout “Action!” this Friday night is director Michael McGuire, discussing his film Aquarians.

AQUARIANS Official Trailer from Michael McGuire on Vimeo.

After an absence of several years, seminary student Daniel Sullivan returns to his wintry, Wisconsin hometown of Silver River. But if he’s to assist the dying Father Rob, he’s going to need to sway the skeptics who learn that he hasn’t spoken to his younger brother, Jake – a reclusive pot dealer – in years.  

With the help of a young woman from his past, Danny tracks his brother down, and the two embark on a ride of faith, ice fishing, temptation, drugs, and rock ‘n roll on the way to confronting their shared scars from a past tragedy that shaped their lives.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with director Michael McGuire!

Continue reading Director’s Cut: Michael McGuire, “Aquarians”

Q&A: Prof. Mike Leckrone, UW Varsity Band

Over his 50-year career leading the University of Wisconsin Bands, Prof. Mike Leckrone has often spoken of “moments of happiness” – the peaks in life that make the valleys easier to bear. He’s had many of those moments at Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center.

Leckrone flies in with a “jet pack” at the 2019 Varsity Band Spring Concert.

So it’s fitting that “Moments of Happiness” is the title of his final Varsity Band Spring Concert.

Watch the legendary Leckrone take his final bow at the Kohl Center 7 p.m. Saturday, May 4 on WPT, with game day favorites, the best of popular and musical theater standards and (as always) many surprises.

Leckrone took time out of his still-busy schedule to speak with us. Read his reflections – including just what he plans to do after stepping down – in our Q&A below!

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Meet the Cast of Les Misérables, Premiering on WPT April 14

There are some things you can always count on. The happiness that comes from that first cup of coffee — or tea — in the morning. The pure joy puppies bring. And, of course, some excellent MASTERPIECE programming on Sunday nights on Wisconsin Public Television. Thanks to the upcoming premiere of Les Misérables on April 14 on WPT,  Sunday nights are about to get even better.  Continue reading Meet the Cast of Les Misérables, Premiering on WPT April 14

Q&A: Pete Schwaba, Director’s Cut

Pete SchwabaFrom his home base in Marinette, writer, director and comedian Pete Schwaba remains connected to the independent film community as host of Director’s Cutas well as introducing documentaries shown on Independent Lens and POV.

Each year, the Director’s Cut season kicks off with a preview of the Wisconsin Film Festival. Join Schwaba and special guests – festival organizers and filmmakers – 9 p.m. Monday, April 1 on WPT to discuss some of the great offerings in store. Then, come on down to the fest itself from April 4-11, where Schwaba presents the Golden Badger Awards to the best of Wisconsin’s Own films.

Schwaba spoke with us to share some of his favorite indie film picks from past seasons, and what he loves about public TV. Read on!

Continue reading Q&A: Pete Schwaba, Director’s Cut