First half of MSPIFF – Recap + Reviews: ‘Have a Nice Day’ + ‘Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story’ + ‘Risking Light’ doc

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun! Despite the initial weather snafu in its first few days of MSPIFF37 (freakin’ blizzard in April!!), the largest film festival in the Twin Cities keeps going strong. I did miss a few events and films last weekend and some films were postponed to the Best of Fest period after the official film fest is done due to poor weather. But fortunately I did get screeners to some of them (nice perk of getting a press pass 😀 )

I also got a chance to interview some filmmakers (best part of being a film blogger!), thanks to MSPIFF Publicity/Outreach Coordinator Peter Schilling and Nemer Fieger. I’ll post the interviews once I’m done transcribing them.

It was so inspiring to chat with Debra Granik, an Oscar-nominated writer/director (for Winter’s Bone) who’s all about the craft of filmmaking and lives ‘off the grid’ from the Hollywood hustle and bustle. Her latest narrative feature Leave No Trace brings to life the story of a young girl, Tom (newcomer Thomasin Mckenzie) and her war-vet father, Will (Ben Foster). The two live off the grid, led by Will’s PTSD, which has rendered him incapable of rejoining civilian life. Instead they spend their days in the wilderness, practicing survivalist skills and keeping away from the crowds.

I have to hold off the review for it but let me just say it’s an astounding film that once again feature a phenomenal young talent (not unlike Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone) in New Zealander Thomasin Mckenzie.

Here are some reviews from the first half of MSPIFF, starting w/ one from FlixChatter’s blog contributor Laura S.:

HAVE A NICE DAY

Have a Nice Day is an animated film about a young man named Xiao Zhang (Changlong Zhu) steals a bag containing a million yen in order to pay to fix his fiance’s botched plastic surgery. Unfortunately for him, the bag belongs to local mobster, Liu Shu (Siming Yang), who, of course, sends some of his people after Xiao Zhang to retrieve the bag. Liu Shu and his team aren’t the only ones Xiao Zhang has to watch out for, as he encounters several people on his journey just as desperate to get the bag from him.

For the most part, this is an enjoyable film. The score is fantastic. Making a gritty film noir-style movie as an animated feature makes for a visually interesting experience; the animation uses striking colors, and the backgrounds are beautifully detailed while the characters are very simply designed, creating a unique contrast. The one problem with the simple character design is that they have very little movement, especially facially, which makes it hard to connect what the characters are saying with what they’re feeling. This isn’t helped by the fact that, according to IMDB, the voice cast is made up by non-professional friends of writer/director Jian Liu, and the lack of voice acting experience is evident, although, to be fair, it brings a more genuine feel to the dialogue at times.

My one other gripe has to do with the movie’s tone. Overall, Have a Nice Day is a straightforward mobster thriller, but there is one “what the hell?” moment that is pretty jarring. There’s a musical number that comes out of nowhere halfway through the movie that is never addressed afterward. It’s clearly supposed to be a fantasy sequence/daydream for a couple of the characters trying to get the money, but it’s the only one like it in the film. If they were going for a more surreal feel, they could have included a few more unusual scenes like this (not even necessarily musical numbers, but fantasy sequences). But because it’s just the one, it feels confusing and out of place.

Despite my couple issues with this movie, I would still recommend it, if only for the aesthetic value. The animation is great, the music is gorgeous, and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat.

You have one more chance to catch Have a Nice Day at MSPIFF on
Sunday, April 22 at 9:50 PM at St. Anthony Main Theatre 2
Get tickets »


ANNA KARENINA: VRONSKY’S STORY

I’m a sucker for tragic romance and it doesn’t get more harrowing than Leo Tolstoy’s classic. This time it’s told from Count Vronsky’s perspective, and made by the filmmakers from Tolstoy’s own homeland of Russia.

Set in Manchuria in the midst of Russian-Japanese War in 1904, the film opens in a makeshift hospital led by Sergei Karenin. One of the patients Karenin encountered turns out to be Count Vronsky, and this unexpected meet-up is what intrigues me most about this adaptation. At 138 min, this is sumptuous, lush drama that’s told in flashback. It traces back to how Anna and Vronsky first met, their tumultuous affair, up until 30 years later when Vronsky finds himself under the care of Anna’s son. Visually-stunning with meticulous details to its gorgeous set pieces and costumes, it’s fun to be transported to the opulent world of aristocratic Russia for a couple of hours.

However, the film often feels too indulgent, director Karen Shakhnazarov‘s filmed the scene of Anna in a carriage on the way to the train station with such slo-mo style, as he did with the horse race sequence where Vronsky is thrown from his horse. As a fan of romantic period dramas, I enjoyed many aspects of the film, but wish it offers more than just Vronsky’s remembrance. I also wish Vronsky displayed more emotion as he tells his story.

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The fragment of scenes of Anna/Vronsky’s romance isn’t always captivating, especially as Anna becomes such a nag the more her distrust continue to smother Vronsky and doom their affair. But that first meet-up on the train and the dance at the ball is the stuff epic romance is made of. They barely spoke but their physical chemistry sucks the air out of the room. Elizaveta Boyarskaya (Anna) and Maksim Matveyev (Vronsky) are absolutely stunning as the doomed lovers, though Anna comes across as a mentally-unhinged woman here. I was also quite taken by Kirill Grebenshchikov‘s soulful performance as Sergei, which made me wish there’s more to his interaction with Vronsky. Their story, which sets it apart from other Anna Karenina‘s adaptation, seems like a missed opportunity overall, down to its rather anticlimactic ending.

In the end, this Russian literary adaptation proved to be too melodramatic, but not as emotional as it could’ve been. Apparently there’s also a Russian TV series version of this adaptation, and perhaps this lavish story is best told in a miniseries format. Despite its flaws, I’d still recommend this to fans of Tolstoy’s classic and those who enjoy elegant period dramas.

RISKING LIGHT

As MSPIFF says on their documentary promos, few genres have the raw emotional power of documentaries. Facts are often stranger than fiction, and in many ways, real life stories can be more powerful than narratives, especially when they deal with sensitive subject matter as those presented in Risking Light.

MN filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson’s beautifully-shot documentary is a meditation on forgiveness, layered with a theme that is rarely seen on the screen—forgiving the unforgivable. The film featured three stories from Cambodia, Australia and here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Out of the three stories, the story of Mary Johnson and O’Shea Israel absolutely took my breath away. A story that made headlines as they both ended up being on The View and featured on People magazine, it’s one that definitely made you reflect on what you would do if it happened to you. As with the other two stories dealing with those who were part of Australia’s Aboriginal “Lost Generation” and a survivor of the Cambodian genocide Khmer Rouge, how does one forgive such evil being done not just to them but their entire family?

Forgiveness, compassion, kindness
 all universal themes that everyone from every background can relate to and learn about. I love that the documentary also transport us into three different worlds that couldn’t be more different from each other, but yet carry a similar thread. On top of being substantially profound, this is also a visually-stunning film shot on location in three different continents. Definitely a feast for the eyes and nourishment for the soul. Bravo Dawn Mikkelson and team!

Risking Light has two more screening times at MSPIFF at St. Anthony Main Theatre:

Sunday, Apr 22 9:30 AM
Sat, Apr 28 7:05 PM
Get your tickets »


 

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FlixChatter Review: Rampage (2018)

I donÊŒt get Hollywood obsession with turning video games into films. Most of them were met with little box office and/or critical success, yet each year we seem to get one or two films based on video games. Last monthÊŒs reboot of Tomb Raider barely made a dent at the box office, now we get another film based on a video game that I doubt the target audience would remember or know much about it. But this one stars the always charismatic Dwayne Johnson and it just might turn out to be a big box office success than previous video game-based films.

After an experiment in space gone wrong and the space station was destroyed, debris containing mysterious chemicals fell to different parts of the United States. One landed near a San Diego zoo where Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) is running the show and his albino ape named George was exposed to the chemical. George is a friendly ape but after the exposure, he became more aggressive and growing bigger and bigger each day. Then a doctor named Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) showed up at the zoo and told Okoye she knows whatÊŒs wrong with George and can help cure him. Meanwhile in downtown Chicago office, leaders of the company that owns the destroyed space station, Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy) are planning to recover those chemicals.

They dispatched some military men lead by Burke (Joe Manganiello) to recover their product. Unfortunately for Burke and his men, when they arrived at the location, they found a giant wolf that was exposed to the chemical and had to fight for their lives. Back at the zoo, George became even more aggressive and starts attacking people but a group of mysterious agents was able to sedate him. The agentsÊŒ leader named Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) decided to arrest Okoye and Caldwell, he believes theyÊŒre responsible for GeorgeÊŒs erratic behavior. Of course they couldn’t contain George and heÊŒs able to escape and itÊŒs up to Okoye and Caldwell to save everyone from the monsters, including a giant crocodile.

Four screenwriters were credited for the screenplay, so that means several drafts of the script were written before it got approved. Now I donÊŒt envy them on how to come up with engaging story based on a video game about giant animals smashing things. I guess what they came up with worked well as a big budget action/adventure, although I thought some parts of the story was too serious for its own good. Director Brad Peyton did a good job of not making this into some kind of serious picture, he knows heÊŒs making a movie about giant animals smashing things and he didn’t hold back on the mayhem. I do wish heÊŒd came up with something more inventive for the big climatic action sequences in downtown Chicago. The action scenes reminded me of Man of Steel where Superman and General Zod were fighting one another and just got too repetitive and boring. Otherwise, he put together a decent action picture that would satisfy the intended audiences.

For the human characters, well, unfortunately most of them were pretty one dimensional. Dwayne Johnson always seems to know heÊŒs in a silly movie and heÊŒs having a good time playing another larger than life action hero. Naomie Harris is your typical sidekick/love interest character but thankfully they didn’t turn her into a damsel in distress and needs a rescue. Both Akerman and Lacy are your typical villains, theyÊŒre greedy and will do anything to save their own butts once they realized their products are responsible for the mayhem. As for Jeffrey Dean MorganÊŒs mysterious agent character, IÊŒm not sure why they even included him in the story, Morgan looked like heÊŒs having a good time playing the role but heÊŒs kind of just a wasted character. Now maybe he might be a major player for the sequel, assuming this one makes enough money and turn into a franchise for the studio.

Rampage is nothing more than a silly action picture, it reminded me of last yearÊŒs Kong: Skull Island, if youÊŒre going into it expecting to see some kind of great cinema than youÊŒll be disappointed. ItÊŒs full of plot holes and one dimensional characters, the people who makes Honest Trailers should have a lot of fun when they release the trailer for this movie. If youÊŒre in the mood to see some crazy action scenes and a fan of Dwayne Johnson, then you might enjoy this.

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So have you seen Rampage? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review – Truth or Dare (2018)

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Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Runtime: 1h 40min

When I first saw the preview for Truth or Dare, I thought it looked pretty stupid, but I did my best to keep an open mind going into the screening. I’ve been surprised before by horror movies that ended up being better than I expected, like Ouija: Origin of Evil and Annabelle: Creation. Plus, it’s from Blumhouse Productions, a company that specializes in horror movies, including the Oscar-winning Get Out. Maybe there was hope for this cheesy-looking teen horror film. Spoiler: there was not.

In Truth or Dare, a group of college students (Lucy Hale as Olivia, Tyler Posey as Lucas, Violett Beane as Markie, Sophia Ali as Penelope, Nolan Gerard Funk as Tyson, Hayden Szeto as Brad, and Sam Lerner as Ronnie) go to Mexico for spring break, where they join a stranger from a bar, Carter (Landon Liboiron) to an abandoned church, where they play the movie’s titular game. What seems like an innocent activity is something much more sinister that follows them home and forces them to continue playing, answering heartbreaking truths and performing life-threatening dares. If they refuse to play, they die.

The idea of a horror movie centered around truth or dare isn’t awful. If they had kept most of the action in one location-namely, the abandoned church- it could have felt more claustrophobic and tense, and it would have given them more time to develop the characters and make the stakes feel higher. However, this movie feels more like a lazy CW or MTV teen melodrama with demonic possession sprinkled in. The characters range from painfully bland to irredeemably unlikeable. If they were just going to make another horror movie where a bunch of teens are killed off (and there have been so many over the past few decades), they should have done something new with it-like maybe don’t kill off the few queer or POC characters in the film, or develop the characters better so there’s some emotional impact when they die.

I could almost forgive the boring “teens die one by one” storyline if the movie was at least consistently scary, but it really isn’t. The majority of the film is taken up by cheap jump scares. To be fair, there are a few genuinely suspenseful moments; there’s one longer scene that is really well done where an extremely drunk Penelope (Sophia Ali) is dared to walk around the edge of a roof until she finishes drinking the bottle of vodka in her hand, and there’s some buildup to an actually good jump scare involving Brad (Hayden Szeto) and a corpse in a hospital. However, scenes like this are few and far between, and they’re mostly buried in bad dialogue and cheap jump scares.

The worst part, though, was the face. Oh, God, the face. Whenever anyone is possessed by the demon forcing the students to play the game, that person’s face is contorted into this wide, warped smile that I assume is supposed to be creepy and unsettling, but it’s just hilarious. All I could think was that it looks like the troll face meme.

IT’S SO STUPID. One of the characters mentions the face looks like a bad SnapChat filter. ACKNOWLEDGING IT DOESN’T EXCUSE IT FROM BEING BAD, YOU GUYS. Come on, Blumhouse! I know you can do better! I’ve seen movies you’ve produced with truly chilling special effects! This just looks like when we all discovered you could add goofy filters to your Mac Book webcam ten years ago.
f you’re very easily scared and are bored, maybe catch this once it’s on Netflix, but don’t waste your time or money on seeing it in theaters.

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Have you seen ‘Truth or Dare’? Well, what did you think? 

MSPIFF 2018 opens today! Showcasing WOMEN & FILM, MN-MADE FILMS & Tribute to INGMAR BERGMAN

Drumroll please
 the 37th Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival opens today! From April 12-28, MSPIFF is showcasing 158 new feature films and 120+ shorts representing 70+ countries to audiences throughout the Upper Midwest. The Film Society is making things easier to watch movies and participate in a plethora of events and parties! You can catch a free ride on opening weekend with Metro Transit, you can download the PDF of the entire schedule, or better yet, get the Film Society App 
 a new tool to fest year round.

Check out the official trailer:

The opening night film is RBG, the acclaimed documentary celebrating the life and lasting influence of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

From filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West, this documentary feature showcases the life and lasting influence of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also known as RBG and “the notorious RBG.” With unprecedented access to Ginsburg, the filmmakers chart her life as she grows up in Brooklyn, pursues an education, falls in love, accepts an appointment to the Supreme Court, and establishes a friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The film and opening night reception and party will take place at St. Anthony Main, a beautiful venue by the river in downtown Minneapolis.

WOMEN & FILM

MSPIFF’s showcase of female directors from around the globe continues to grow every year, and 2018 is no different, featuring a wide variety of outstanding narratives and documentaries from around the world. MSPIFF programmers have brought in women-directed films that are in the vanguard of global contemporary cinema.

“The #MeToo movement has underscored the inequalities in the film industry like never before. Our Women & Film and Chasms and Bridges programs examine the chaotic and divisive world we live in today, as well as the resistance movements that seek to affect change, and we have sought out films that invite discourse and understanding.”
– Susan Smoluchowski, Executive Director of the Film Society.

There’s a specific ‘women directors‘ tag on the MSPIFF schedule page that shows ALL the films by female filmmakers. Here are some of them:

SILICONE SOUL

Let me start w/ this documentary
 not only because it’s made right here in Minnesota, but I also happen to know the woman who made it! Melody Gilbert is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker and teacher, and her latest doc is certainly a thought-provoking one. I made a small contribution to its Kickstarter campaign and it’s also scored by Charlie McCarron, who also did an outstanding job scoring my short film Hearts Want.

Love comes in many forms, and in Silicone Soul, the need for companionship and understanding is shown in the bond between humans and their synthetic companions. Tenderly captured by Gilbert, the bonds shown in the film are diverse and layered: from romantic relationships, to friendships, to a recreation of the love between mother and child. Silicone Soul does not allow for its subjects to be easily labeled or judged. Instead, the film is a collection of resoundingly human stories that reflect universal themes—the desire for love, compassion and communication.

ANGELS WEAR WHITE (JIA NIAN HUA)

Xiaomi, a motel cleaner, watches as a district-commissioner checks in alongside two girls, Xiaowen and Xin Xin. On the surveillance monitor, Xiaomi sees the commissioner push his way into the girls’ room, and she decides to record the event with her smartphone. In the wake of the assault, Xiaomi’s story does little good for the girls as they face their unconcerned families and a society that would rather put the blame on them than offend their attacker.

Director Vivian Qu is fearless in her all too true-to-life portrayal of violence against women and how both law and society so often fail to act.

THE BLESSED (LES BIENHEUREUX)

In postwar Algiers, Amal and Samir are a middle-aged couple hoping to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. Drifting through their day, they eventually find themselves at a restaurant. Here, they confront their differences and disillusionment, threaded with the unsettled atmosphere of postwar society. Outside, their teenaged son Fahim and his friends, Feriel and Reda, spend their day on the streets of Algiers. They too reveal ideological differences among them, their banter soon leading to the reveal of hidden wounds left by the Algerian Civil War that shaped their current world.

Sofia Djama’s debut feature employs this multi-layered narrative to craft a stirring drama that illuminates the generational states of unrest left in the wake of the Algerian Civil War.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN

It wouldn’t be MSPIFF without Juliette Binoche! I have seen three of her films at the festival in the last four years.

Joining two icons of French cinema, filmmaker Claire Denis and actor Juliette Binoche, Let the Sunshine In is far from your everyday romantic comedy. Binoche takes the leading role as a newly divorced Parisian artist named Isabelle, who finds herself at a crossroads. Isabelle longs for another chance at love but is not willing to entertain the rolling list of hapless bachelors that drift her way, such as an actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a banker (Xavier Beauvois), and a kindred spirit (Alex Descas) who won’t commit.

 

MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS

I can’t wait to see this one as the filmmaker is from my hometown Jakarta!

Hailed as the first Satay Western, Indonesian director/writer Mouly Surya’s Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts follows a widow’s quest for justice after a brutal home invasion. A multi-national production (co-produced by Indonesia, France, Malaysia and Thailand), Surya’s feature film charts one woman’s fight to reclaim her body, identity and home after a drifter, Markus, and his gang overtake her world.

Told across four acts, Marlina transforms from a docile victim into a lethal avenger, targeting her oppressors with calculating precision. Marlina, having taken vengeance on Markus and his gang, makes her way to the police station to turn herself in and meets her pregnant friend, Novi, along the way. As the two embark on a journey across the land, we are spectators to Marlina’s emotional journey as she comes to terms with her actions and their consequences.

RISKING LIGHT

Another MN female filmmaker made a thought-provoking documentary that’s filmed in Cambodia and Australia to capture stories of forgiveness from two members of Australia’s Aboriginal “Lost Generation.”

Dawn Mikkelson’s Risking Light is a meditation on forgiveness, layered with a theme that is rarely seen on the screen—forgiving the unforgivable. Five years prior to making the film, Mikkelson met Mary Johnson and O’Shea Israel, a meeting she describes as a life-changing event that would lead to the development of Risking Light. It was then she learned that Johnson had chosen to forgive Israel for the murder of her son, which motivates the tone of humanistic mission in the film.

THE RIDER 

I saw this trailer weeks before it was announced it’ll be the CLOSING NIGHT film at MSPIFF. So I absolutely can’t wait to see this on the big screen!

In ChloĂ© Zhao’s resoundingly human film The Rider, the narrative is framed as both documentary and drama focused on 20-year-old rising rodeo star Brady Blackburn (played by Brady Jandreau) as he undergoes a crisis of identity. In America’s heartland, Brady suffers a head injury that almost kills him; forcing him to pick up the pieces of a life that has forever changed. A truly unique feature, the characters in The Rider, including Brady, are members of the actual Jandreau family, who have experienced events identical to many in the film.


MN-Connected Films

One of the highlights of MSPIFF is of course the MN-connected films. I want to highlight a few films either made by or shot in Minnesota that are playing at MSPIFF this year.

Virginia Minnesota

I’ve got my ticket to see this one and I’m looking forward to it!

A story of a fragmented friendship finding new ground, director Daniel Stine’s feature film debut Virginia Minnesota begins with a young woman at a crossroads. A local production, the film was shot during the fall on Minnesota’s picturesque Lake Superior coastline.

My Aqal

For one night, a small hand-crafted shelter glowed in the night. Somali refugee artist Ifrah Mansour, who was behind the project, speaks to art, tradition and collaboration in the face of adversity. Directed by acclaimed MN filmmaker Maribeth Romslo, who’s one of the directing duo of the wonderful feature drama Dragonfly that premiered at MSPIFF in 2016.

CLEAR and Through the Banks of the Red Cedar

Filmmaker Maya Washington actually has TWO films playing at MSPIFF, wow!

CLEAR is a dramatic short under the Chasms and Bridges II block. Synopsis: Ember’s first day home after a 16-year prison sentence for a crime she didn’t commit is bittersweet as she uncovers how her family’s lives have gone on without her after all these years.

Through the Banks of the Red Cedar is a documentary feature. Synopsis: In 1963 at Michigan State University, Head Coach Duffy Daugherty chose 23 black men to play on the college team. From this move came legends Gene Washington, Bubba Smith, George Webster and Clinton Jones. Director Maya Washington, Gene Washington’s daughter, charts the legacy of her father’s career and influence, along with the impact the events of 1963 have shown in the present day.

Grandpa Ben

This film is loving portrait of 92-year-old Minnesota artist, Benjamin Vickery Jr. Directed by MN filmmaker and projectionist Justin Christopher Ayd, this sounds like an intriguing and heartwarming documentary short.

Part of the Freewheelin’ short block.

911 

A 911 dispatcher answers a distressed call from a couple stopped for a suspicious car reported. That’s the premise of this short doc by Alison Guessou and Justin Christopher Ayd. 

Part of the Looking Out shorts block.

Of course I’m also thrilled to have my short film be a part of MSPIFF this year! As I’ve mentioned in this post, MSPIFF played a key role in this film as that’s where I first met Sam Simmons who became the lead actress. It was a few months before I finished the feature script, but I felt like I had just met my character Lily when I saw Sam who’s also from the UK! But aside from that, it’s a huge honor to be able to screen my indie romance at this esteemed film festival alongside a variety of international shorts from all over the world.

Two former lovers reunite for a play by the drama teacher who first brought them together. They still carry a torch for each other, but will their love survive after the truth is revealed about their past?

Thanks to Jason P. Schumacher and our team of talented MN filmmakers/crew who brought my vision to life. Click on the banner to get tickets!


MASTERS OF CINEMA TRIBUTE

For the 2018 Master Honoree, MSPIFF will honor the memory of the great Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman. As we near his centennial on July 14th, Bergman films take centerstage, not only here but in venues across the world. A prolific craftsman, with over 60 projects to his name—from narratives to documentaries, theatrical to television—Bergman was also an unapologetic inquirer in the affairs of the heart and the depth of the soul.

I’m thrilled for this as I have a huge blindspot on Bergman [gasp!] Yes I know, I know, I feel bad that I haven’t followed through on people’s recommendations that I should see his films! But hey, there will be THREE screenings of Bergman’s films at MSPIFF, which then leads to a 16-film Bergman retrospective on May 25-June 7. The Film Society is bringing to the Twin Cities the Swedish master’s iconic classics and lesser-known titles in his oeuvre, a feast for cinephiles and admirers of Swedish culture.

  • Summer with Monika—Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1953, Narrative
  • Persona—Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1966, Narrative
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013This documentary feature from Jane Magnusson and Hynek Pallas highlights the legacy of Ingmar Bergman’s career through the eyes of a group of filmmakers, creatives and artists inspired by his work. “Trespassing” into Bergman’s home, the filmmakers gather together to share their own experiences with the filmmaker’s collection of work, all arguably masterpieces, and what the films meant to them and the wider world of cinema.


Hope to see you at MSPIFF! The full schedule is now online and they even have an MSPFilmSociety app that’ll surely come in handy in the next three weeks!

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FlixChatter Review – Ready Player One (2018)

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Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Zak Penn & Ernest Cline
Runtime: 2hrs 20min

Before seeing Ready Player One, I had to remind myself to judge it as a stand-alone movie rather than a book adaptation. I’ve read the book several times and thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part, and I didn’t want to ruin the experience for myself by nitpicking every little difference between the book and movie. This was a good mindset going in, because it isn’t a very faithful adaptation, but it’s a decent movie on its own.

Tye Sheridan w/ Olivia Cooke, Philip Zhao and Win Morisaki

Ready Player One takes place in the year 2045, when the world has become an economic and environmental wasteland. To escape their dreary reality, people spend their time in an incredible virtual world called The OASIS. When its creator, Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, he challenges its users to find three keys to unlock an Easter Egg that will bestow his fortune to the winner. OASIS users Wade, AKA Parzival (Tye Sheridan), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), and Daito (Win Morisaki) work together to find the Egg before the evil corporation IOI, led by Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), gets there first.

My biggest issue with this film is its heavy reliance on narration, especially at the beginning. I understand that it’s difficult to fit a lot of pertinent information from a novel into a film adaptation, but the rule “show, don’t tell” is important to remember, and this movie had plenty of opportunity to do so. It opens showing people in their homes in The Stacks (mobile homes literally stacked like high rises), escaping their dreary surroundings by wearing high-tech VR goggles and accessories, then shows the detailed, fantastical, hyperrealistic virtual world of the OASIS- all of which is then explained with nearly ten minutes of narration. It’s completely unnecessary. The movie has plenty to work with visually to establish the background information, and what they can’t do visually they could set up through dialogue (which, to be fair, they do sometimes); it would have felt more natural and less lazy.

Despite this, Ready Player One is still an enjoyable movie. The CGI is impressive, and there are a lot of great 80’s and 90’s visual references, some subtle and some obvious, that will appeal to nostalgia geeks. The action is beautifully animated and really sucks you in. The soundtrack is a nice blend of 80’s rock music and original orchestration that is all the sweeping schmaltz one would expect in an 80’s adventure movie from Spielberg.

The acting is excellent as well. Despite the character of Parzival/Wade being about as bland as an un-toasted slice of white bread lightly seasoned with tap water, Tye Sheridan does well with what he’s given. I was thrilled to see Olivia Cooke as Art3mis/Samantha, especially after seeing her in another film, Thoroughbreds, earlier this year. She gives a fun, genuinely passionate performance. I don’t think she and Tye have great romantic chemistry, but that might just be a writing issue, as it isn’t very well-developed. Both TJ Miller as I-R0k and Lena Waithe as Aech have several great comedic moments. Mark Rylance is delightful as the awkward but sweet Halliday. Ben Mendelsohn is satisfyingly sleazy as Sorrento, although he’s not a particularly intimidating villain; again, though, that might be a writing issue, as Mendelsohn usually pulls off villainous roles well.

If you’re hoping for a good film adaptation of the book, Ready Player One will probably disappoint you. But if you go into it expecting a fun, well-animated adventure flick, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. Despite its problems, this movie is still entertaining.

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Have you seen ‘Ready Player One’? Well, what did you think? 

Easter special double reviews: RISEN & The Case for Christ – rental picks for Holy Week (or any week)

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Risen since I saw it a little over a month ago. Then I saw The Case for Christ a couple of days ago and thought they’d make a perfect Easter double reviews since they involve the quest of two men (centuries apart) attempting to disprove Christ’s resurrection and divinity.

The greatest story ever told has certainly been been told countless times in Hollywood, yet somehow Risen managed to bring something unique to the table. Told from the perspective of a skeptic, a Roman Centurion no less, tasked to find the missing body of Jesus Christ in the weeks following His crucifixion. Joseph Fiennes portrayed Clavius, the stoic Roman soldier with soulful gaze and rather reserved demeanor. He’s not all brute force like what we often see in films depicting such characters, more of a thinking man who’s ambitious yet world weary.

The film primarily focuses on Clavius’ investigation of the case, which includes interrogating some of Jesus’ followers and the Roman guards tasked to watch. It doesn’t take long for him to realize there’s more to this mystery of a missing dead body and he’s more affected by it than he cares to admit. The transformation of his character from an ambitious Roman (was there any other kind?) to one who’s thirsty for the truth is palpable. “Your ambition is noticed,” his boss Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) noted, and he later repeated that same sentiment to his aide (Tom Felton). Firth was kinda chewing the scenery as Pilate, but in a good way as I like his acting style, while I’m glad Felton didn’t portray another run-of-the-mill villain.

Fiennes is a fine actor and his sensitive, nuanced portrayal of Clavius is intriguing to watch. ‘I cannot reconcile all this with the world I know,’ he remarked at a pivotal moment in the film. It’s one of many memorable moments here that felt earnest, as nobody liked being preached to at the movies. Another great casting here is Cliff Curtis as Christ. Not only did the Maori actor looks ethnically accurate for the role, he also portrayed the Messiah with gravitas and playful sweetness in equal measure. If I have one quibble for this film, I think the acting of some of the disciples, most notably Bartholomew, is a bit over the top.

Overall though, Risen is a pretty riveting film from director Kevin Reynolds (Tristan + Isolde, The Count of Monte Cristo). No hammy acting or dogmatic bluntness, thanks to Fiennes’ layered performance as a conflicted man. The film was also beautifully shot in Malta, with gorgeous cinematography, score and set pieces.

Unlike The Passion of the Christ, the film isn’t nearly as graphic or intense in its violence depiction, certainly not as gruesome as most PG-13 films or anything on TV these days. I have to say that I find many faith-based films to be corny with subpar acting. So it’s refreshing to find this is not one of them and the high production values helps, too. Definitely one I highly recommend for believers and non-believers alike.

SPOILER ALERT: I also love the way they did the ending. Did Clavius converted to Christianity? Or did the investigation led him to a crossroad where he simply couldn’t turn back to his old Roman ways? Whether or not he becomes a believer in the end, the fact of the matter is, we knew he’s a changed man.


When I first came across this film on Netflix, I’m curious how Lee Strobel’s book, with all the fact-checking details, would translate well to screen. Thankfully, it works thanks to the strong acting and intriguing journalistic style.

The film opens with the protagonist Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel), receiving a promotion as legal editor at the ChicagoTribune. It’s a picture of a perfect life, great job and a perfect family
 beautiful (and pregnant) wife Leslie (Erika Christensen) and a young daughter Alison (Haley Rosenwasser). But soon an incident happened that shook Leslie greatly, and without spoiling too much, it led to her converting to Christianity. It’s not a spoiler as it essentially what drove the story
 her conversion became the driving force for Lee to try to disprove that her belief is all a bunch of nonsense.

This film could’ve been another a Law & Order type of episode, but Jon Gunn‘s direction based on Brian Bird‘s script avoided such pitfalls. Yes it had a slow start and some slow moments, but for the most part, Lee’s quest was intriguing as it was a personal one. Despite all the interrogations, charts & graphs in Lee’s war room, the film never forget the real heart of the film, which is the relationship between Lee & Leslie which hangs in the balance. I also like that there’s an intersecting criminal case Lee worked on at the same time to keep the narrative from being too static.

I’ve never seen Vogel in anything before, but he’s pretty compelling as Lee.  He’s effortlessly likable despite his cocky, brash attitude and there’s an earnest quality about him. I was really impressed by Christensen as the patient wife who’s also got her own mind. Her conversion felt convincing to me, despite the rather cloying dialog with spiritual mentor Alfie (L. Scott Caldwell). There’s also an interesting cameo from Faye Dunaway as a renowned psychologist. She uttered one of the most memorable lines in the film when questioned whether 500+ eyewitness could have shared the same delusion claiming to have seen the risen Christ.

Now, as I was done watching this, I sensed that believers would complain that it only vaguely skims the surface of Strobel’s richly-detailed book, and non-believers would think it’s too preachy. As for me, I think the film offers just enough of the ‘meat’ of the argument about Christ’ existence and divinity, that people who are curious about it might be inclined to do more extensive research on their own. I appreciate that the film didn’t paint skeptics as evil or that paint atheism as the source of bad behaviors,

Given that Strobel himself served as executive producer, I suppose there’s no mystery as to how the film would end. It is called the Case for Christ after all, not against Him. Yet for someone who loves journalism films like All The Presidents’ Men, Spotlight, The Insider, etc., that investigative aspect certainly appeals to me. No, this film didn’t quite rise to the level of those films, but still one that’s well worth your time.


Have you seen RISEN of THE CASE FOR CHRIST? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

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Review by: Vitali Gueron

Pacific Rim Uprising is the sequel to the 2013 science-fiction monster movie Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Academy Award winner for Best Director and Best Picture). Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and stars British actor John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Attack the Block) as Jake Pentecost, and American actor Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride) as Nate Lambert. Boyega’s character Jake Pentecost—son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba‘s character in the first film) is brought back to the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) after being arrested for stealing and selling old jaeger (robot) parts on the black market. He then is made an instructor and starts training jaeger program recruits with his estranged former co-pilot, Lambert (Eastwood).

The film also brings back Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), who helped save the world in the first movie, and is now working for the Shao Corporation, a company whose mission is to mass produce remote controlled jaegers developed by Dr. Geiszler and Liwen Shao (Jing Tian — a Chinese actress best known for The Great Wall & Kong: Skull Island). Dr. Geiszler is developing a program that combines jeager technology with cloned Kaiju (a Japanese word for giant monsters) cells.

The rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury attacks a PPDC conference and Pentecost and Lambert must use their own jaeger to fight back (the gigantic robot is controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link). Upon destroying the reactor of a defunct jaeger production facility in Russia which Obsidian Fury is using as a base of operations, Pentecost and Lambert are shocked to learn that Obsidian Fury was controlled by a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

While Obsidian Fury is eventually defeated by Pentecost and Lambert, Dr. Geiszler releases an army of Shao Corporation’s drones who incapacitate almost all of the PPDC’s jaegers and inflicting heavy casualties on the PPDC’s human staff, including most of the jaeger pilots. The drones begin to open new breaches all over the world and are successful in bringing over three powerful Kaiju. Pentecost and Lambert have no choice but to assemble a team of the jaeger program recruits. These young recruits had only simulated battles and not yet fully grasped the task of the mental link joining in order to pilot the jaeger. The team uses the PPDC confronts the Kaiju with their four remaining jaegers in Tokyo and eventually up the side of Mount Fuji. The team is eventually able to defeat the giant Kaiju and arrest Dr. Geiszler so he can no longer pose a threat.

I believe this movie is set up to initiate third-and-final movie, where humans will be the ones attacking the Precursors (the alien race who created the Kaiju) in their own world. Unfortunately, this film does little to nothing to generate new ideas that haven’t been seen before, whether in the first Pacific Rim or in other films with similar premises, such as Transformers.

While it’s easy to say that this is just another Transformers remake, the biggest thing Pacific Rim Uprising has it going for it is John Boyega as the lead. Boyega is even credited as a producer on the film and he continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, whether on the Star Wars movies—using his pretty convincing American accent, or in this movie—where he uses his natural British accent. Boyega also sports a fantastic mustache which makes him cool, yet believable “bad-ass” Kaiju slayer. Aside from Boyega’s charisma, there aren’t very many other moments here that make the movie anything to get excited about. If you previously loved seeing robots battling gigantic monsters and wreaking havoc upon the world, then you won’t be disappointed this time around.

For the majority of its audiences, Pacific Rim Uprising will seem like another bad idea by a giant Hollywood studio to reuse a story line that has become all too familiar. If their writers and casting departments can somehow add more interesting humans (such as Boyega) and subtract the meaningless robot/monster battles, then there might be hope for the third-and-final movie. Otherwise, it will just be an endless comparison between Pacific Rim and Transformers – a battle of which franchise is worst.


Have you seen ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’? Well, what did you think? 

Three weeks away until MSPIFF – The 37th MINNEAPOLIS ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL announces its 2018 lineup!

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) returns April 12-28, bringing 250+ new films, representing 75 countries, to audiences throughout the region.

I’m always excited when MSPIFF announced their schedule, but this year I have a big reason to be extra excited


Yep, my short film is an official selection of MSPIFF this year, woo hoo! Scroll down the list or click Hearts Want which should take you directly to the list of shorts under World Cinema category. I’m beyond thrilled that our film got in
 MSPIFF has a very special place in my heart as that’s the place I first met my friend/lead actress Sam Simmons, which was in April 2016, a year before we filmed Hearts Want last year. Who knew we’d actually have a film in the festival just two years after we met!

TICKETS to Hearts Want screening now available!*

Hearts Want is part of the SHORTS: LOOKING IN block
Tue, 
Apr 24 7:00 PM
St. Anthony Main Theatre 4
*For members & pass holders only,
tickets for general public will be available next week on 3/29.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about Hearts Want, well, do visit the film’s FB page (and hit LIKE too why don’t you) where you can watch the trailer, watch bts clips from filming, and other updates.

I’ll be sure to do a recap of the film festivities next month, but today, I’d like to share the full lineup from all over the world! I just think it’s kind of serendipitous isn’t it that the first year I got in MSPIFF, the opening night film is about someone named Ruth (who’s petite but with tall ambitions 😉 )

FULL LINEUP

Organized by Program and Theme

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Whether on the heels of a splashy debut, or the latest picture from one of the great contemporary filmmakers, these new high-profile films from around the world are making their mark and staking their claim as modern cinematic classics.

OPENING NIGHT FILM

RBG
Director Betsy West and other special guests attending*
Thursday, April 12. 7:00PM and 7:30PM screenings at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

RBG showcases the life and lasting influence of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, focusing on her upbringing, education and remarkable career as a leading voice in the American judicial system and the fight for social change.

CLOSING NIGHT FILM

The Rider
Chloé Zhao, USA, 2017, Narrative
Saturday, April 28. 7:00PM screening at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

20-year old rising rodeo star Brady Blackburn undergoes a crisis of identity in America’s heartland. In this duel documentary-drama, the name and character of “Blackburn” stands as a reflection of real-life events, following the young cowboy in the aftermath of a near-fatal head injury, where he faces an uncertain future.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

  • Day on the Grand Canal, A—Philip Haas, USA, 1988, Documentary
  • Disobedience—SebastiĂĄn Lelio, UK/Ireland/USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Leave no Trace—Debra Granik, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • On Chesil Beach—Dominic Cooke, UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Tully—Jason Reitman, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Won’t You be My Neighbor?—Morgan Neville, USA, 2018, Documentary

* Filmmakers attending

TRIBUTES

Honoring international, national, and local filmmakers and presenting focused retrospectives on their most groundbreaking works.

MASTERS OF CINEMA TRIBUTE – For the 2018 Master Honoree, we are proud to honor the memory of the great Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman. As we near his centennial on July 14th, Bergman films take centerstage, not only here but in venues across the world. A prolific craftsman, with over 60 projects to his name—from narratives to documentaries, theatrical to television—Bergman was also an unapologetic inquirer in the affairs of the heart and the depth of the soul. Beginning with three screenings at MSPIFF (Summer with Monika, Persona and the documentary about him, Trespassing Bergman) and continuing into our 16-film Bergman retrospective May 25-June 7, the Film Society is bringing to the Twin Cities the Swedish master’s iconic classics and lesser-known titles in his oeuvre, a feast for cinephiles and admirers of Swedish culture.

  • Summer with Monika—Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1953, Narrative
  • Persona—Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1966, Narrative
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013, Documentary | Hynek Pallas Attending*

 

MINNESOTA CINEMATIC ARTS AWARD – The 2018 Minnesota Cinematic Arts Award Honoree is director Peter Markle. His first film, The Personals (1982), was produced in Minneapolis and debuted at the Deauville Film Festival in France. He has worked on over 80 projects since, collaborating with acting talents such as Gene Hackman, Daryl Hannah, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Patrick Swayze and Martin Sheen. His television credits include X-Files, Rescue Me, CSI, ER, Burn Notice, NYPD Blue and others. His films Flight 93 and Faith of My Fathers garnered ten Emmy nominations.

Odds Are…— Peter Markle, USA, 2018, Narrative | Peter Markle Attending*

COMPETITIONS

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

This juried competition recognizes national and international documentary filmmaking that exemplifies the very best in presentation, diversity, innovation and powerful storytelling. A $2,500 cash prize is awarded to the chosen film.

  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary | Asad Faruqi Attending*
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Bisbee ’17—Robert Greene, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Blessing, The—Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary | Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker Attending*
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo SalmerĂłn, Spain, 2017, Documentary
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Mrs. Fang—Wang Bing, China, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending*
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018, Documentary
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending*

EMERGING FILMMAKER COMPETITION

This juried competition recognizes new and up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world for their achievements in narrative filmmaking. A $2,500 cash prize is awarded to the film that demonstrates standout excellence in creativity, storytelling, technique and innovation in the narrative form.

  • All You Can Eat Buddha—Ian Lagarde, Canada/Cuba, 2017, Narrative
  • Barrage—Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Beyond Dreams (Dröm vidare)—Rojda Sekersöz, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Blessed, The (Les bienheureux)—Sofia Djama, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative | Sofia Djama Attending*
  • Dragonfly Eyes—Xu Bing, China, 2017, Narrative
  • I Am Not a Witch—Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/UK/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Village Rockstars—Rima Das, India, 2017, Narrative | Rima Das Attending*

MINNESOTA MADE AWARDS

For our Minnesota Made juried competition, awards are given for films that exemplify standout achievements in narrative and documentary feature filmmaking. Winners receive a cash prize and credit towards Canon products at Cinequipt.

MINNESOTA MADE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

  • Book of Clarence, The—Lee Breuer, USA, 2017, Documentary | Lee Breuer Attending*
  • Dodging Bullets—Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder USA, 2017, Documentary | Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder Attending*
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story—John Whitehead, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director John Whitehead Attending*
  • Not in My Lifetime—Pam Colby, USA, 2018, Documentary | Pam Colby Attending*
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Dawn Mikkelson Attending*
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending*
  • Through the Banks of the Red Cedar—Maya Washington, USA, 2018, Documentary | Maya Washington Attending*
  • Work in Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)—Phil Harder, USA, 2018, Documentary World Premiere | Phil Harder and Al Milgrom Attending*

MINNESOTA MADE NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

  • Farmer of the Year—Vince O’Connell, Kathy Swanson, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Smitten!—Barry Morrow, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Virginia, Minnesota—Daniel Stine, USA, 2018, Narrative

NEXTWAVE

Nextwave is the Film Society’s year-round education initiative that provides K-12 youth throughout the region with opportunities to learn about and explore the world through international independent cinema. The program also provides the up-and-coming generation of cinematic storytellers with an opportunity to connect with one-another and with visiting filmmakers from around the globe, and to submit their films in competition and have their films seen by discerning film festival audiences. Nextwave encompasses three interrelated initiatives: K-12 School Screenings, MSPIFF Youth Juries, and the MSPIFF Youth Filmmaking Competition. Nextwave is made possible by generous sponsorships from Best Buy and KNOCK.

MSPIFF YOUTH FILMMAKER COMPETITION

  • Art of War—Cal Etcheverry, 2017
  • iRony—Radheya Jegatheva, 2017
  • Lev—Roy Shtayim, 2017
  • Life of Davie—Austin Coombs-Perez, 2017
  • Natasha Barsotti—Pieta Rupia, 2017
  • Persevering and Persistence: Rosa Brand-Canadas—Ayan Ismail, 2017
  • Seat at the Table, A—Thomas McDonald, 2017
  • Take a Hike!—Brody Menzies, 2017
  • Thaw—Natalia Poteryakhin, 2017
  • Two of Five Million—DZ and Socs Zavitsanos, 2017

ASIAN FRONTIERS

A continent that claims nearly 60% of the world’s population, Asia encompasses a cinematic vision that is a symphony as diverse as it is discerning. As blockbusters make the headlines, we turn to independent voices that bring stories, both real and imagined, brilliantly to life.

  • Angels Wear White—Vivian Qu, China/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Beautiful Star, A—Daihachi Yoshida, Japan, 2017, Narrative
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Before We Vanish—Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan, 2017, Narrative
  • Bold, Corrupt, and the Beautiful, The—Yang Ya-Che, Taiwan, 2017, Narrative
  • Dead Pigs—Cathy Yan, China/USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Have a Nice Day—Liu Jian, China, 2017, Animation
  • Honeygiver Among the Dogs (Munmo Tashi Khyidron)—Dechen Roder, Bhutan, 2017, Narrative
  • Maineland—Miao Wang, China/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh Dalam Empat Babak)—Mouly Surya, Indonesia/France/Malaysia/Thailand, 2017, Narrative
  • On the Beach at Night Alone—Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2017, Narrative
  • Samui Song (Mai Mee Samui Samrab Ter)—Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand/Norway/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Tailor, The (Co Ba Sai Gon)—Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand/Norway/Germany, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • Village Rockstars—Rima Das, India, 2017, Narrative US Premiere | Rima Das Attending

CHILDISH FILMS

For cinephiles in the making, Childish Films provides a window to the world that is accessible to all ages. Whether you are young or simply young at heart, prepare yourself for vibrant stories that traverse distant lands but explore familiar emotions.

FEATURE FILMS:

  • Ballad from Tibet—Zhang Wei, China, 2017, Narrative
  • Cloudboy—Meikeminne Clinckspoor, Belgium/Sweden/Netherlands/Norway, 2017, Narrative
  • On Wheels (Sobre rodas)—Mauro D’Addio, Brazil, 2017, Narrative
  • Room 213 (Rum 213)—Emelie Lindblom, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Sing Song—Mischa Kamp, Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Supa Modo—Likarion Wainaina, Kenya/Germany, 201, Narrative
  • Wallay—Berni Goldblat, France/Burkina Faso, 2017, Narrative

CINE LATINO

Few cultures have had a greater influence on our country and our region than those of Latin America and Iberia. Our Cine Latino program celebrates the cinematic history and rich tapestry of Spanish and Portuguese language film and the powerful and captivating cinematic storytelling emerging from three continents and eight countries.

  • Eternal Feminine, The (Los adioses)—Natalia Beristain, Mexico, 2017, Narrative
  • Gabriel and the Mountain (Gabriel e a montanha)—Fellipe Barbosa , Brazil/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Gold Seekers (Los buscadores)—Juan Carlos Maneglia, Tana SchĂ©mbori, Paraguay, 2017, Narrative
  • Inca, El—Ignacio Castillo Cottin, Venezuela, 2016, Narrative
  • Killing JesĂșs (Matar a JesĂșs)—Laura Mora, Colombia/Argentina, 2016, Narrative
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo SalmerĂłn, Spain, 2017, Documentary
  • Neurotic Quest for Serenity—Paulinho Caruso, Teodoro Poppovic, Brazil, 2018, Narrative
  • Oblivion Verses (Los versos del olivido)—Alireza Khatami, Chile/France/Germany/Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Summit, The (La cordillera)—Santiago Mitre, Argentina/France/Spain, 2017, Narrative
  • Witkin & Witkin—Trisha Ziff, Mexico/USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Zama—Lucretia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France, 2017, Narrative

DARK OUT

Take a walk on the dark side of the festival with zombies, cops, criminals and the unexplainable. Covering action, horror, mystery, and sometimes a mix of all three, the thrills and chills of this program transcend borders with undeniable international flair.

  • AffamĂ©s, Les—Robin Aubert, Canada, 2017, Narrative
  • Ash—Li Xiaofeng, China, 2016, Narrative US Premiere
  • Ghost Stories—Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman, UK, 2017 , Narrative
  • Good Manners (As boas maneiras)—Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas, Brazil/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Who Killed Cock Robin?—Cheng Wei-Hao, Taiwan, 2017, Narrative

DOCUMENTARIES

Few genres have the raw emotional power of documentaries. Plucked from the headlines, sometimes from the front page and sometimes from a small paragraph in a community paper, these stories get filtered to educate, persuade, and entertain with almost limitless possibilities. This year’s showcase of documentary titles proves the range of potential within this diverse style. All Documentaries are generously sponsored by Nor Hall and Roger Hale.

  • Anote’s Ark—Matthieu Rytz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary| Asad Faruqi Attending
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Bisbee ‘17—Robert Greene,USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Blessing, The—Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker, USA, 2017, Documentary | Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker Attending
  • Book of Clarence, The—Lee Breuer, USA, 2017, Documentary | Lee Breuer Attending
  • Crime + Punishment—Stephen Maing, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China, A—Philip Haas, USA, 1988, Documentary
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?—Travis Wilkerson, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Dodging Bullets—Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder Attending
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story—John Whitehead, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director John Whitehead Attending
  • Growing Up Hmong at the Crossroads—Safoi Babana-Hampton, USA/France/Laos/Thailand, 2017, Documentary
  • Hitler’s Hollywood—RĂŒdiger Suchsland, Germany, 2017, Documentary
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo SalmerĂłn, Spain, 2017, Documentary
  • Maineland—Miao Wang, China/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Makala—Emmanuel Gras, Democratic Republic of Congo/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Mole Man—Guy Fiorita, USA, 2017, Documentary | Guy Fiorita Attending
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • Mrs. Fang—Wang Bing, China, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • Not in My Lifetime—Pam Colby, USA, 2018, Documentary | Pam Colby Attending
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018, Documentary
  • Of Sheep and Men—Karim Sayad, Algeria/Switzerland/France/Qatar, 2017, Documentary
  • Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian—Sydney Beane, USA, 2018, Documentary | Sydney Beane Attending
  • Our New President—Maxim Pozdorovkin, Russia/USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Price of Everything—Nathaniel Kahn, USA, 2018, Documentary | Nathaniel Kahn Attending
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, Australia/Cambodia/USA, 2018, Documentary | Dawn Mikkelson Attending
  • Roller Dreams—Kate Hickey, USA/Australia, 2017, Documentary
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending
  • Skin so Soft, A—Denis CotĂ©, Canada, 2017, Documentary
  • So Help Me God—Jean Libon, Yves Hinant, Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Three Identical Strangers—Tim Wardle, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Through the Banks of the Red Cedar—Maya Washington, USA, 2018, Documentary | Maya Washington Attending
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013, Documentary | Hynek Pallas Attending
  • We Are Columbine—Laura Farber, USA, 2018, Documentary | Laura Farber Attending + Panel Discussion
  • West of the Jordan River—Amos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, Documentary
  • When Paul came over the Sea–Journal of an Encounter (Als Paul ĂŒber das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Morgan Neville, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Work in Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)—Phil Harder, USA, 2018, Documentary World Premiere | Phil Harder and Al Milgrom Attending
  • Workers’ Cup, The—Adam Sobel, UK, 2017, Documentary
  • You’re Soaking in It—Scott Harper, Canada, 2017, Documentary

FRAME FORWARD: CINEMA EXPANDED

Avant-garde, experimental, lyrical, vanguard, idiosyncratic—many terms have been used for films and filmmakers that work outside the box, exploring cinema’s potential. Frame Forward embraces these non-traditional narrative and documentary features and shorts that push the boundaries and that invite audiences to experience the possibilities of stories that fall outside of the ordinary.

FEATURES:

  • Bottomless Bag, The—Rustam Khamdamov, Russia, 2017, Narrative US Premiere
  • Cocote—Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, Dominican Republic/Argentina/Germany/Qatar, 2017, Narrative
  • Dragonfly Eyes—Xu Bing, China, 2017, Narrative
  • Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc—Bruno Dumont, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Mrs. Fang—Wang Bing, China, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • Skin so Soft, A—Denis CotĂ©, Canada, 2017, Documentary

SHORTS:

  • Arresting Animation—Hannah Frank, USA, 2017
  • CPS Closing & Delays—Kristin Reeves, USA, 2017
  • Day and a Button, A—Azza Hamwi, Syria, 2015
  • Dislocation Blues—Sky Hopinka, USA, 2017 | Sky Hopinka Attending
  • Emergency Needs—Kevin Jerome Everson, USA, 2017
  • Evidence of the Evidence—Alex Johnston, USA, 2017
  • Exile Exotic—Sasha Litvintseva, UK, 2015
  • For The Students Who Stood at The Statue (The Forcing no. 7)—Lydia Moyer, USA, 2017
  • Framelines—Sabine Gruffat, USA, 2017 | Sabine Gruffat Attending
  • Fundir—Allison Cekala, USA/Chile, 2016
  • House—Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, USA, 2016
  • Kind of a Symbol—Hannah Frank, USA, 2017
  • Short Films About Learning—Michael Hanna, Ireland, 2015
  • Through the Looking Glass—Yi Cui, China, 2017
  • Violence of a Civilization without Secrets, The—Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys, USA, 2017
  • Wedding Song—Monica Saviron, USA, 2016
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are—Jesse Mclean, USA, 2017

IMAGES OF AFRICA

As African countries freed themselves from colonization, its filmmakers simultaneously freed themselves from convention and blazed a trail of innovation and national identity. That tradition continues today as the images and stories of Africa become part of our global cinematic language. Experience the vivid, innovative and inspiring stories, both real and fictional, that continue to emerge from countries all across the world’s second largest continent.

  • Beauty and the Dogs (Aala Kaf Ifrit)—Kaouther Ben Hania, Khaled Walid Barsaoui, Tunisia/France/Sweden/Norway/ Lebanon/Qatar/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Blessed, The (Les bienheureux)—Sofia Djama, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative | Sofia Djama Attending
  • Five Fingers for Marseilles—Michael Matthews, South Africa, 2015, Narrative
  • I Am Not a Witch—Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/UK/France/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Liyana—Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp, Swaziland/USA/Qatar, 2017, Animation/Documentary
  • Makala—Emmanuel Gras, Democratic Republic of Congo/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Razzia—Nabil Ayouch, Morocco/France/Belgium, 2017, Narrative
  • Royal Hibiscus Hotel, The—Ishaya Bako, Nigeria, 2017, Narrative

MIDNIGHT SUN

You don’t have to be a native Minnesotan to appreciate the Nordic spirit. Take in the sights and sounds of the far Northern climes where, for at least a few days each year, the sun never sets. This selection of narratives and documentaries from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland offers a snapshot of new Nordic cinema, and a nod to Minnesota’s heritage.

  • 12th Man, The (Den 12. mann)—Harald Zwart, Norway, 2017, Narrative
  • Beyond Dreams (Dröm vidare)—Rojda Sekersöz, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Charmer, The (CharmĂžren)—Milad Alami, Denmark, 2017, Narrative
  • Euthanizer (Armomurhaaja)—Teemu Nikki, Finland, 2017, Narrative
  • Guilty, The (Den skyldige)—Gustav Möller, Denmark, 2018, Narrative
  • Miami—Zaida Bergroth, Finland , Narrative
  • Moment in the Reeds (TĂ€mĂ€ hetki kaislikossa)—Mikko Makela, Finland/UK, 2017, Narrative | Mikko Makela Attending
  • Under the Tree ( Undir trĂ©nu)—Hafsteinn Gunnar SigurĂ°sson, Iceland, 2017, Narrative
  • What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)—Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2017, Narrative

NEW AMERICAN VISIONS

Celebrate the independent visions of American auteurs, whether they are one step away from Hollywood or completely outside the system. New American Visions features narrative and documentary films from filmmakers whose work is redefining the future of American filmmaking.

  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary | Asad Faruqi Attending
  • Bisbee ’17—Robert Greene, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Blessing, The—Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker, USA, 2017, Documentary | Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker Attending
  • Book of Clarence, The—Lee Breuer, USA, 2017, Documentary | Lee Breuer Attending
  • Crime + Punishment—Stephen Maing, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?—Travis Wilkerson, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Dodging Bullets—Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder Attending
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story—John Whitehead, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director John Whitehead Attending
  • Farmer of the Year—Vince O’Connell, Kathy Swanson, USA, 2018, Narrative | Vince O’Connell, Kathy Swanson Attending
  • Growing Up Hmong at the Crossroads—Safoi Babana-Hampton, USA/France/Laos/Thailand, 2017, Documentary
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Mole Man—Guy Fiorita, USA, 2017, Documentary | Guy Fiorita Attending
  • Not in My Lifetime—Pam Colby, USA, 2018, Documentary | Pam Colby Attending
  • Odds Are…—Peter Markle, USA, 2018, Narrative | Peter Markle Attending
  • Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian—Sydney Beane, USA, 2018, Documentary | Sydney Beane Attending
  • Price of Everything—Nathaniel Kahn, USA, 2018, Documentary | Nathaniel Kahn Attending
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, Australia/Cambodia/USA, 2018, Documentary | Dawn Mikkelson Attending
  • Roller Dreams—Kate Hickey, USA/Australia, 2017, Documentary
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending
  • Smitten!—Barry Morrow, USA/Italy, 2018, Narrative | Barry Morrow Attending
  • Sollers Point—Matthew Porterfield, USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Three Identical Strangers—Tim Wardle, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Through the Banks of the Red Cedar—Maya Washington, USA, 2018, Documentary | Maya Washington Attending
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending
  • Virginia Minnesota—Daniel Stine, USA, 2017, Narrative | Daniel Stine Attending
  • We Are Columbine—Laura Farber, USA, 2018, Documentary | Laura Farber Attending + Panel Discussion
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Morgan Neville, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Work in Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)—Phil Harder, USA, 2018 World Premiere | Phil Harder and Al Milgrom Attending

WORLD CINEMA

  • No program embraces the number of countries, languages, styles, and genres better than World Cinema. Travel the globe and rediscover it from a multitude of new perspectives in this showcase of new narrative and documentary films from dozens of countries from every continent. World Cinema is generously sponsored by Mary and Paul Reyelts.
  • After the War (Dopo la guerra)—Annarita Zambrano, Italy/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • All You Can Eat Buddha—Ian Lagarde, Canada/Cuba, 2017, Narrative
  • Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story (Anna Karenina. Istoriya Vronskogo)—Karen Shakhnazarov, Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Anote’s Ark—Matthieu Rytz, Canada, 2018, Documentary
  • Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka, The (Sztuka kochania)—Maria Sadowska, Poland, 2017, Narrative
  • Aurora Borealis (Aurora Borealis: Északi fĂ©ny)—MĂĄrta MĂ©szĂĄros, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Barefoot (Po strniĆĄti bos)—Jan SverĂĄk, Czech Republic, 2017, Narrative
  • Barrage—Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Bitter Flowers—Olivier Meys, Belgium/France/Switzerland/China, 2017, Narrative | Olivier Meys Attending
  • Black Kite—Tarique Qayumi, Afghanistan/Canada, 2017, Narrative | Tarique Qayumi Attending
  • Cakemaker, The (Der kuchenmacher)—Ofir Raul Graizer, Israel/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Confession, The (Beri)—Zaza Urushadze, Georgia, 2017, Narrative
  • Control (Het Tweede Gelaat)—Jan Verheyen, Belgium, 2017, Narrative
  • Custody (Jusqu’Ă  La Garde)—Xavier Legrand, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Directions (Posoki)—Stephan Komandarev, Bulgaria/Germany/Macedonia, 2017, Narrative
  • Guardians, The (Les gardiennes)—Xavier Beauvois, France/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Gutland—Govinda Van Maele, Luxembourg, 2017, Narrative
  • Happy Birthday—Christos Georgiou, Greece, 2017, Narrative
  • Hitler’s Hollywood—RĂŒdiger Suchsland, Germany, 2017, Documentary
  • Indian Horse—Stephen S. Campanelli, Canada, 2017, Narrative | Stephen S. Campanelli Attending
  • Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil interieur)—Clair Denis, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Letter to the President (Namai ba Rahis Gomhor)—Roya Sadat, Afghanistan, 2017 , Narrative
  • Line, The (Čiara)—Peter Bebjak, Slovakia/Ukraine, 2017, Narrative
  • Mademoiselle Paradis (Licht)—Barbara Albert, Austria/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Maktub—Oded Raz, Israel, 2017, Narrative
  • Man of Integrity, A (Lerd)—Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2017, Narrative
  • Memoir of War, A (La douleur)—Emmanuel Finkiel, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Men Don’t Cry (MuĆĄkarci ne plaču)—Alen Drljević, Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia/Slovenia/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Miracle (Stebuklas)—Egle Vertelyte, Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland/UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Montparnasse Bienvenue—LĂ©nor Serraille, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • No Date, No Signature (Bedoone Tarikh, Bedoone Emza)—Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, Narrative
  • Number One (NumĂ©ro une)—Tonie Marshall, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018
  • Of Sheep and Men (Des moutons et des hommes)—Karim Sayad, Algeria/Switzerland/France/Qatar, 2017, Documentary
  • On Borrowed Time—Yasir Al Yasiri, United Arab Emirates, 2018, Narrative
  • Our New President—Maxim Pozdorovkin, Russia, 2018, Documentary
  • Prime Minister, The (De premier)—Erik Van Looy, Belgium, 2016, Narrative
  • Quartette, The (Kvarteto)—Miroslav Krobot, Czech Republic, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • Rainbow: A Private Affair (Una questione privata)—Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, Italy, 2017, Narrative
  • Secret Ingredient, The (Tajnata sostojka)—Gjorce Stavreski, Macedonia, 2017, Narrative
  • So Help Me God—Jean Libon, Yves Hinant, Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Spoor (Pokot)—Agnieszka Holland, Kasla Adamik, Poland/Germany/Czech Republic/Sweden/Slovakia, 2017, Narrative
  • Streaker (Flitzer)—Peter Luisi, Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Sweet Country—Warwick Thornton, Australia, 2017, Narrative
  • Unwanted (T’padashtun)—Edon Rizvanolli, Kosovo/Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Wajib—Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017, Narrative
  • West of the Jordan River—Amos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Western—Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria, 2017, Narrative
  • When Paul came over the Sea–Journal of an Encounter (Als Paul ĂŒber das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Whisky Bandit (A Viszkis)—NimrĂłd Antal, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Workers’ Cup, The—Adam Sobel, UK, 2017, Documentary
  • You’re Soaking in It—Scott Harper, Canada, 2017, Documentary



SHORT FILMS

Limits can liberate. Due to their brevity, short films tend to exist in the now. Experience powerful first impressions, vivid yet momentary detail and compelling conflicts abound in a new year of international short-form cinema.

*=Director Attending

  • American Dream—Alexia Oldini, USA, 2017*
  • Aria—Myrsini Aristidou, Cyrpus/France, 2017
  • Audition—Richard Van, USA, 2017
  • Babs—Celine Held, Logan George, UK, 2017
  • Baby Brother—Kamau Bilal, USA, 2018
  • Badger Creek—Jonathan Skurnik, Randy Vasquez, USA, 2016*
  • BĂ©a—JosĂ© Esteban Pavlovich Salido, Mexico, 2017*
  • Bee-Sharp Honeybee—Deacon Warner, USA, 2017*
  • Beneath the Ink—Cy Dodson, USA, 2017*
  • Beneath the Trees (Debajo de los ĂĄrboles)—Crystal Avila, USA, 2017*
  • Bike Trip—Tom Schroeder, USA, 2017*
  • Birthday Night (Shab e Tavalod)—Omid Shams, Iran, 2017
  • Botanica—NoĂ«l Loozen, Netherlands, 2017
  • Brother—Hunter Johnson, Daniel Klein, USA, 2017*
  • Burden, The (Min Börda)—Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 2017
  • Caroline—Celine Held, Logan George, USA, 2017
  • Celebrate Eileen! (Feiert Eileen!)—Judith Westermann, Germany, 2017*
  • Cheer Up Baby—Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017
  • CLEAR—Maya Washington, USA, 2017*
  • Cloud of Petals—Sarah Meyohas, USA, 2017*
  • Conversation with Senri Oe, A—Sihai Zhu, USA, 2017*
  • Courtesy of Angels, The (La politesse des anges)—ValĂ©rie Theodore, France, 2017
  • Dairy Worker (Los lecheros)—Jim Cricchi, USA, 2017*
  • Debris (Desecho)—Julio O. Ramos, USA/Peru, 2017*
  • Fauva—Jeremy Comte, Canada, 2018
  • Gaelynn Lea – The Songs We Sing—Mark Brown, USA, 2017*
  • Gaze—Farnoosh Samadi, Iran/Italy, 2017*
  • Gentle Night, A—Qiu Yang, China, 2017
  • Glucose—Jeron Braxton, USA, 2017
  • Grandpa Ben—Justin Christopher Ayd, USA, 2017*
  • Hair Wolf—Mariama Diallo, USA, 2017
  • Headbutt (Kopstoot)—Daan Bunnik, Netherlands, 2017
  • Hearts Want—Jason P. Schumacher, USA, 2017*
  • Influenced—Tyler Eichorst, USA, 2017*
  • Irish Prince—Joey Garfield, USA, 2018*
  • JEOM—Kangmin Kim, South Korea/USA, 2017
  • Last Tape, The—Cyprien Clement-Delmas, Igor Kosenko, Ukraine/Germany, 2017
  • Lawman—Matthew Gentile, USA, 2017
  • Lejla—Stijn Bouma, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2017
  • Little Hands (Les petits mains)—Remi Allier, France, 2017
  • Little Potato—Wes Hurley, Nathan M. Miller, USA, 2017
  • Month, A—NjĂ« Muaj, Kosovo, 2017
  • Mud (HashtƂ’ishnii)—Shaandiin Tome, USA, 2017*
  • My Aqal—Maribeth Romslo, USA, 2017*
  • Nightshade (Nachtschade)—Shady El-Hamus, Netherlands, 2017
  • Not Yet (Hanooz Na
)—Arian Vazirdaftair, Iran, 2017
  • Obscurer—Kiera Faber, USA, 2017*
  • On the Wall, Off the Chain—Greg Carlson, USA, 2017*
  • OVUM—Luciano Blotta, Argentina, 2017*
  • Passion Gap—Matt Portman, Jason Donald, South Africa, 2017
  • Pet Friendly—Catherine Licata, USA, 2017
  • Pinebox—D. R. Tibbits, USA, 2017*
  • Polarity—Matthew Adams, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: A Poem Play—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Me—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Crumpy, and Mr. Bumpy—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Poem about All Different Things—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Supergirl—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Ragdoll—Justin Schaack, USA, 2017
  • Redneck Muslim—Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis, USA, 2017
  • Rookie Season—Hannah Nemer, Molly Nemer, Russia, 2017*
  • Salvation (Frelsun)—Thora Hilmarsdottir, Iceland/Sweden, 2017*
  • Saul’s 108th Story—Joshua Carlon, USA, 2017*
  • Schoolyard Blues (Skolstartssorg)—Maria Eriksson, Sweden, 2017
  • Second Best—Alyssa McClelland, Australia, 2017
  • Signature—Kei Chikaura, Japan, 2017
  • Standing Still | Still Standing—Andrew Walton, USA, 2017*
  • Suspect—Davar McGee, USA, 2017*
  • Tesla World Light, The (Tesla: LumiĂšre Mondiale)—Matthew Rankin, Canada, 2017
  • This Might Shock You: The Making of Preschool Poets—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Tough—Jennifer Zheng, China/UK, 2017
  • Transfer, The—Michael Grudsky, Germany/Israel, 2017
  • Ugly—Nikita Diakur, Redbear Easterman, Germany, 2017
  • Weavers of Imagination (Bafandegan e Khial)—Sadegh Jafari, Iran, 2017*
  • Wolf House, The—Nicholas Clausen, USA, 2018*
  • Woody’s Order!—Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger, USA, 2017
  • World Is Round So That Nobody Can Hide In the Corners – Part I : Refuge, The—Leandro Goddinho, Germany/Brazil, 2017
  • Yoshua—Matthew Castellanos, USA, 2017

MUSIC VIDEOS

(Band in parentheses)

  • Allumette (Samyel)—Aran Quinn, France/USA/Ireland, 2017
  • Day, The (Modern Nomads)—Jake Armstrong, USA, 2017
  • Drink I’m Sippin On (Yaeji)—Anthony Sylvester, South Korea, 2017
  • Go Awf (Prince Arick)—Anthony Sylvester, USA, 2017
  • HD Delivery (Droptree)—Droptree, USA, 2017
  • Off, Then On (Darling Lily Gave)—Taylor James Donskey, USA, 2018
  • Opal Waltz (Supernaive)—Vincent Tsui, USA, 2017
  • Our Relationship Is A Slowly Gentrifying Relationship (Guante & Katrah-Quey featuring Jayanthi Kyle)—E. G. Bailey, USA, 2017*
  • Stop and Go (Psychic Revival)—Vanessa M. H. Powers, USA, 2017
  • Sweet Wine (Nooky Jones)—Erik Nelson, Sarah Jean Shervin, USA, 2017*
  • Terror (Steady Holiday)—Joseph Armario, USA, 2017
  • Unbound (Asgeir)—Julien Lassort, France, 2017

MAJOR FESTIVAL THEMES

Films within the following categories can be found within the different programs throughout the festival’s lineup.

SPOTLIGHT: CHASMS AND BRIDGES

For 2018, our Spotlight on the World is Chasms and Bridges: Cinema and the Search for Common Ground, tackling the difficult lines that divide us and the dramatic potential for reconciliation and compassion. This special series of titles—including ten selected for our Spotlight Competition—and related panel discussions and workshops, are designed to open up a discourse on the social and ideological divides and shifting social order shaping our world today.

*=Spotlight Competition Award Nominee

SPOTLIGHT FEATURES

  • After the War (Dopo la guerra)—Annarita Zambrano, Italy/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Bisbee ’17—Robert Greene, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Bitter Flowers—Olivier Meys, Belgium/France/Switzerland/China, 2017, Narrative* | Olivier Meys Attending
  • Black Kite—Tarique Qayumi, Afghanistan/Canada, 2017, Narrative | Tarique Qayumi Attending
  • Cakemaker, The (Der kuchenmacher)—Ofir Raul Graizer, Israel/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Charmer, The (CharmĂžren)—Milad Alami, Denmark, 2017, Narrative
  • Crime + Punishment—Stephen Maing, USA, 2018, Documentary*
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?—Travis Wilkerson, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary*
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Men Don’t Cry (MuĆĄkarci ne plaču)—Alen Drljević, Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia/Slovenia/Germany, 2017, Narrative*
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Moment in the Reeds (TĂ€mĂ€ hetki kaislikossa)—Mikko Makela, Finland/UK, 2017, Narrative* | Mikko Makela Attending
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • No Date, No Signature (Bedoone Tarikh, Bedoone Emza)—Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, Narrative
  • Number One (NumĂ©ro une)—Tonie Marshall, France, 2017, Narrative*
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018, Documentary
  • Our New President—Maxim Pozdorovkin, Russia, 2018, Documentary
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • So Help Me God—Jean Libon, Yves Hinant, Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Wajib—Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017, Narrative
  • West of the Jordan River—Amos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Western—Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria, 2017, Narrative
  • What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)—Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2017, Narrative*
  • When Paul came over the Sea–Journal of an Encounter (Als Paul ĂŒber das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary* | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Whisky Bandit (A Viszkis)—NimrĂłd Antal, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Workers’ Cup, The—Adam Sobel, UK, 2017, Documentary*

SPOTLIGHT SHORTS

  • American Dream—Alexia Oldini, USA, 2017
  • Aria—Myrsini Aristidou, Cyrpus/France, 2017
  • Beneath the Ink—Cy Dodson, USA, 2017
  • Brother—Hunter Johnson, Daniel Klein, USA, 2017
  • Burden, The (Min Börda)—Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 2017
  • Cheer Up Baby—Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017
  • Dairy Worker (Los lecheros)—Jim Cricchi, USA, 2017
  • Month, A—NjĂ« Muaj, Kosovo, 2017
  • Mud (HashtƂ’ishnii)—Shaandiin Tome, USA, 2017
  • Redneck Muslim—Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis, USA, 2017
  • Schoolyard Blues (Skolstartssorg)—Maria Eriksson, Sweden, 2017
  • Suspect—Davar McGee, USA, 2017
  • Tough—Jennifer Zheng, China/UK, 2017
  • Transfer, The—Michael Grudsky, Germany/Israel, 2017
  • World Is Round So That Nobody Can Hide In the Corners – Part I : Refuge, The—Leandro Goddinho, Germany/Brazil, 2017
  • Yoshua—Matthew Castellanos, USA, 2017

WOMEN & FILM

The #MeToo movement has underscored the inequalities in the film industry like never before, and our support for these industry professionals is stronger than ever. MSPIFF’s showcase of female directors from around the globe continues to grow every year, featuring a wide variety of outstanding narratives and documentaries. Women & Film is generously sponsored by Karen and Ken Heithoff.

FEATURES

  • After the War (Dopo la guerra)—Annarita Zambrano, Italy/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Angels Wear White—Vivian Qu, China/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary
  • Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka, The (Sztuka kochania)—Maria Sadowska, Poland, 2017, Narrative
  • Aurora Borealis (Aurora Borealis: Északi fĂ©ny)—MĂĄrta MĂ©szĂĄros, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Barrage—Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Beauty and the Dogs (Aala Kaf Ifrit)—Kaouther Ben Hania, Khaled Walid Barsaoui, Tunisia/France/Sweden/Norway/ Lebanon/Qatar/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Beyond Dreams (Dröm vidare)—Rojda Sekersöz, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Blessed, The (Les bienheureux)—Sofia Djama, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative | Sofia Djama Attending
  • Cloudboy—Meikeminne Clinckspoor, Belgium/Sweden/Netherlands/Norway, 2017, Narrative
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Dead Pigs—Cathy Yan, China/USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Eternal Feminine, The (Los adioses)—Natalia Beristain, Mexico, 2017, Narrative
  • Exile Exotic—Sasha Litvintseva, UK, 2015
  • Good Manners (As boas maneiras)—Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas, Brazil/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Growing Up Hmong at the Crossroads—Safoi Babana-Hampton, USA/France/Laos/Thailand, 2017, Documentary
  • Honeygiver Among the Dogs (Munmo Tashi Khyidron)—Dechen Roder, Bhutan, 2017, Narrative
  • I Am Not a Witch—Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/UK/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary
  • Killing JesĂșs (Matar a JesĂșs)—Laura Mora, Colombia/Argentina, 2017, Narrative
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Leave no Trace—Debra Granik, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil interieur)—Clair Denis, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Letter to the President (Namai ba Rahis Gomhor)—Roya Sadat, Afghanistan, 2017, Narrative
  • Liyana—Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp, Swaziland/USA/Qatar, 2017, Animation/Documentary
  • Mademoiselle Paradis (Licht)—Barbara Albert, Austria/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Maineland—Miao Wang, China/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh Dalam Empat Babak)—Mouly Surya, Indonesia/France/Malaysia/Thailand, 2017, Narrative
  • Miami—Zaida Bergroth, Finland, Narrative
  • Miracle (Stebuklas)—Egle Vertelyte, Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland/UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Montparnasse Bienvenue—LĂ©nor Serraille, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • Number One (NumĂ©ro une)—Tonie Marshall, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, Australia/Cambodia/USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Roller Dreams—Kate Hickey, USA/Australia, 2017, Documentary
  • Room 213 (Rum 213)—Emelie Lindblom, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending
  • Sing Song—Mischa Kamp, Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Spoor (Pokot)—Agnieszka Holland, Kasla Adamik, Poland/Germany/Czech Republic/Sweden/Slovakia, 2017, Narrative
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Tailor, The (Co Ba Sai Gon)—Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand/Norway/Germany, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013, Documentary | Hynek Pallas Attending
  • Village Rockstars—Rima Das, India, 2017, Narrative US Premiere | Rima Das Attending
  • Wajib—Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017, Narrative
  • We Are Columbine—Laura Farber, USA, 2018, Documentary | Laura Farber Attending + Panel Discussion
  • Western—Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria, 2017, Narrative
  • What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)—Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Witkin & Witkin—Trisha Ziff, Mexico/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Zama—Lucretia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France, 2017, Narrative

SHORTS

  • American Dream—Alexia Oldini, USA, 2017
  • Aria—Myrsini Aristidou, Cyrpus/France, 2017
  • Arresting Animation—Hannah Frank, USA, 2017
  • Babs—Celine Held, Logan George, UK, 2017
  • Beneath the Trees (Debajo de los ĂĄrboles)—Crystal Avila, USA, 2017
  • Burden, The (Min Börda)—Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 2017
  • Caroline—Celine Held, Logan George, USA, 2017
  • Celebrate Eileen! (Feiert Eileen!)—Judith Westermann, Germany, 2017
  • Cheer Up Baby—Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017
  • CLEAR—Maya Washington, USA, 2017
  • Cloud of Petals—Sarah Meyohas, USA, 2017
  • Conversation with Senri Oe, A—Sihai Zhu, USA, 2017
  • Courtesy of Angels, The (La politesse des anges)—ValĂ©rie Theodore, France, 2017
  • CPS Closing & Delays—Kristin Reeves, USA, 2017
  • Day and a Button, A—Azza Hamwi, Syria, 2015
  • For The Students Who Stood at The Statue (The Forcing no. 7)—Lydia Moyer, USA, 2017
  • Framelines—Sabine Gruffat, USA, 2017
  • Fundir—Allison Cekala, USA/Chile, 2016
  • Gaze—Farnoosh Samadi, Iran/Italy, 2017
  • Hair Wolf—Mariama Diallo, USA, 2017
  • House—Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, USA, 2016
  • Mud (HashtƂ’ishnii)—Shaandiin Tome, USA, 2017
  • My Aqal—Maribeth Romslo, USA, 2017
  • Obscurer—Kiera Faber, USA, 2017
  • Pet Friendly—Catherine Licata, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: A Poem Play—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Me—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Crumpy, and Mr. Bumpy—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Poem about All Different Things—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Supergirl—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Redneck Muslim—Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis, USA, 2017
  • Rookie Season—Hannah Nemer, Molly Nemer, Russia, 2017
  • Salvation (Frelsun)—Thora Hilmarsdottir, Iceland/Sweden, 2017
  • Schoolyard Blues (Skolstartssorg)—Maria Eriksson, Sweden, 2017
  • Second Best—Alyssa McClelland, Australia, 2017
  • Stop and Go (Psychic Revival)—Vanessa M. H. Powers, USA, 2017
  • This Might Shock You: The Making of Preschool Poets—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Through the Looking Glass—Yi Cui, China, 2017
  • Tough—Jennifer Zheng, China/UK, 2017
  • Wedding Song—Monica Saviron, USA, 2016
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are—Jesse Mclean, USA, 2017

MSPIFF is presented by the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, a dynamic 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to fostering a knowledgeable and vibrant appreciation of the art of film and its power to inform and transform individuals and communities.

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is generously supported by The Star Tribune, Cedarwoods Foundation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Minnesota State Arts Board Legacy Amendment Funding, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, US Bank, The Minneapolis Foundation, Mora Global, Knock, Inc., KBEM Jazz88,Indeed Brewing Company, Best Buy, Alamo Drafthouse, Depot Renaissance Hotel, Fox Rothschild, numerous Local Businesses, Cultural Associations and Consulates from around the world, our Masters and Auteurs Member Circles and the 2,500+ Members and Donors of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul.

Connect with MSPIFF:

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My Minnesota friends, I hope to see you at MSPIFF this year! As for the rest of you, which of these film(s) are you looking forward to seeing?

FlixChatter Review: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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A Wrinkle in Time is a visually stunning film with a solid backbone and an incredible lead actress (Storm Reid). Due to a few unfortunate choices, it is a disappointing movie that I will nonetheless recommend to everyone.
Because A Wrinkle in Time is one of the first pieces of science fiction that I ever read, my expectations were high. I got teary watching the trailer because seeing a formative story told such amazing women was an exciting prospect.

It is hard to live up to a piece of art so steeped in nostalgia. Time and time again I was disappointed by elements of the story that were abridged or cut out entirely. Of course, the skeleton remained. A Wrinkle in Time is a fun science fiction romp through surprising landscapes that help a young person grow into herself. And I know that it is unfair to expect every page to make the final cut, but there were so many heavy handed moments where the the writers (Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell) forced plot points into the mouths of characters because they must not have felt like they had the time or space to share that information with the audience.

Visually A Wrinkle in Time rivaled my childhood imagination. Costume design, CGI, and careful attention to cinematographic detail paints a moving picture that it is hard to peel your eyes away from. The costumes and makeup that Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) cycle through are stunning – even Mrs. Whatstit’s first outfit, which is supposedly made of bedsheets, is beautiful.

My one beef with the visual element of the movie is the giant, flying, lettuce shaped thing that Mrs. Whatsit transformed into. It is mind bogglingly bad in both execution and premise. Especially when you know that Mrs. Whatsit was supposed to be a centaur. Let me repeat that. Witherspoon was supposed to be a centaur and they made her an oversized piece of lettuce. I understand modesty concerns for a kid’s movie, but a bra flew across the screen when she transformed, so good luck convincing me that they couldn’t have put a bra on their centaur and called it a day.

Despite a cast that looks good on paper, I was mostly disappointed. At the top of my list of disappointments was Zach Galifianakis, who actually put on one of my favorite performances as the Happy Medium. In an otherwise incredibly diverse, female-focused cast, it was a disappointing surprise to see Galifianakis playing a role that was written as female originally.

On top of that, the school teachers were some of the worst featured actors I have ever seen, Mindy Kaling barely had any material to work with, Witherspoon turned a character I remember imagining as a likable but very oblivious person into a pretty rude character, and Deric McCabe was the most sympathetic of train wrecks.

No one wants to shit on a kid’s performance, but McCabe (playing Charles Wallace) left a lot to be desired. Charles Wallace is unique: a highly intelligent, empathetic kindergartner with a major shift in character toward the end of the movie. McCabe’s performance is passable early on, but at he seems visibly uncomfortable on screen. It is so disappointing that he, a nine year old, did not get better coaching for scenes that clearly stretched his acting ability.

Storm Reid redeemed everything else, though. She gave an incredibly riveting performance as Meg. I cannot wait to see what she does in the future: she clearly has the skills to have a long career if she wants it. In spite of its flaws A Wrinkle in Time is a beautiful story about loving yourself even if you don’t feel lovable. Meg is relatable: a teenager who hasn’t quite figured out how to love herself and has absorbed the meanness of her peers. The diverse cast and inspiring take away, described by is well worth supporting and the gorgeous set and costume design are well worth the price of a movie ticket.


hollyHolly P. is a twenty-something millennial who enjoys shouting at people on the internet, riding her bicycle, and overbooking her schedule. She prefers storytelling that has a point and comedy that isn’t mean. Her favorite movies are Aladdin, the Watchmen (even though the book was way better), and Hot Fuzz.  She’s seen every Lord of the Rings movie at least a dozen times. You can follow her @tertiaryhep on twitter or @hollyhollyoxenfreee on Instagram. She’s also on Tinder, but if you find her there she’ll probably ghost on you because wtf is dating in the 21st century.


Have you seen ‘A Wrinkle In Time’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – Thoroughbreds (2018)

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Directed By: Cory Finley
Written By: Cory Finley
Runtime: 1h 32min

In Thoroughbreds, high school friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) rekindle their friendship after going through their own personal crises. As their friendship grows, the girls hatch a plan against Lily’s unpleasant stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks), enlisting the help of drug dealer and local deadbeat Tim (Anton Yelchin).

I had high hopes for this film going in after seeing the cast list, and I was not disappointed. I was already impressed with Anya Taylor-Joy‘s performances in 2015’s The Witch and last year’s Split, and seeing her in this cemented her as one of my new favorite actresses. She goes from being relatively sweet and naive to ruthless and unhinged seamlessly throughout the movie, so gradually that it doesn’t seem forced or over-the-top. Olivia Cooke is excellent as well, making the cold and emotionless Amanda funny and surprisingly sympathetic. Lastly, Thoroughbreds is a reminder of the talent and charisma we lost in the late Anton Yelchin; he makes a character who is completely infuriating and sleazy hilarious while maintaining a sinister undertone.

Despite the strong acting, Thoroughbreds is not a particularly memorable movie. I’ve seen a few ads and reviews hailing it as the new Heathers, but besides the fact that both films are dark comedies with teenage girls as the leads, the two aren’t that similar. While the writing isn’t bad, and the cast delivers the deadpan, rapid-fire dialogue deftly without making it sound like a Gilmore Girls script, it’s not as enduringly quotable as the 1988 film it’s being compared to. It’s still a suspenseful story, and it could be an interesting exploration into mental illness, given a little more time and focus, but it’s just not strong enough to be iconic.

While Thoroughbreds isn’t a film you need to see in theaters, it’s a good showcase of some serious young talent. It’s only an hour and a half long, so if you’re bored, scrolling through Netflix and want to see some impressive performances, give it a watch.

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Have you seen ‘Thoroughbreds’? Well, what did you think?