Podcast: The humor and humanity of Carol Brandt’s films

The Milwaukee-based director screens her latest feature, “Pet Names,” on April 5 during the Wisconsin Film Festival.

As we get ready for the 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival to kick off on April 4, we’ve got our eye on a lot of the Wisconsin-based filmmakers who will be showing their work. Among the most noteworthy is Milwaukee’s Carol Brandt, who, although she’s only in her mid-20s, has already directed four feature films. Her fourth, Pet Names, is getting a festival screening on Friday, April 5 at 8:30 p.m. at UW Cinematheque’s Vilas Hall screening room, and Brandt will be in attendance to discuss the film. Pet Names follows a snarky, pink-haired twenty-something named Leigh who returns to her hometown to care for her mother, whose illness leaves her bedridden. Leigh and her mom were supposed to go on a camping trip, but when her mom’s symptoms become too severe, Leigh has to find a last minute camping buddy. Of course, the only person available turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. We follow this ex-couple as they get high, play with their cute pug, and, cautiously talk over their past.  

What makes Pet Names so engaging is the relatable tension of reconnecting with a figure from your past and being uncertain what you want from them today. Do you want to keep it light and let things go, or do you need to address the hurts that led to the end of the relationship? Leigh, as played by actress and screenwriter Meredith Johnston, wrestles with that question mightily as the film takes us through moments of goofy humor and bare emotion, often in a single scene. Brandt spoke recently with Tone Madison contributor Kailee Andrews about Pet Names, scouting locations in Wisconsin, and her next project.


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