TCFF Day 5 and 6 Highlights: MN Shorts, Ghost Light, The Armstrong Lie documentary, They Will Outlive Us All

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Here are what’s in store for Day 5 and Day 6 at TCFF. As you can see, there’s something cool to look forward to every single day, and there’s always something for everyone! I’m a bit sidelined by a cold today so I had to skip one of the films I had gotten a ticket for. But hey, there are still a bunch of films in store for this week so I’m taking LOTS of vitamins so I can be on the up and up again covering for TCFF 😀

DAY 5 Highlights – Oct 21

MN Shorts Part 1

Showing: Monday, October 21st at 6:15 pm

A collection of best shorts from the state of MN

  • The Tale of Cuthbert – 5 minutes
    Cuthbert is a zombie who just doesn’t fit in with the other zombies. His brother is the leader and tries to teach Cuthbert the techniques to being a better zombie. But can Cuthbert change who he is? Or will he be banished?
  • DeadOfWinter_ShortDead of Winter – 8 minutes
    Running low on supplies needed for her survival, Bethany Stevens (Lisie Krohnfeldt) is forced to venture out into an inhospitable world full of frozen zombies, bitter cold and loneliness.
  • The Gold Sparrow – 13 minutes
    Set in a crumbling black-and-white futuristic metropolis, void of creativity and color, the city is traversed by The Gold Sparrow and her nefarious side kick, The Ring Leader.
  • The First Date – 36 minutes
    How far will fate go? Jack and Rachel are about to find out. Destined to be soul mates, these two are embarking on a lifelong love. There’s only one problem – they have to get past their first date. 
  • A Letter Home – 4 minutes
    An isolated man maintains hope in a hopeless situation. A LETTER HOME is Karl Warnke’s directorial debut.
  • Clutch – 4 minutes
    Tommy has been made an offer he literally cannot refuse. “One ball, one strike and I’ll let you live”.
  • Duluth is Horrible– 17 minutes
    A series of vignettes chronicling a few lonely people in Duluth, MN searching for a connection in a bleak winter. 

Ghost Light

GhostLight_MNfilm

Showing: Monday, October 21st at 8:45 pm

Special Guests: John Gaspard (Director) & Cast and Crew

When a key prop goes missing during an amateur theater company performance, the actors suspect the theater ghosts are acting up. The group decides to spend the night in the eccentric old building, watching for paranormal activity.

This feature was filmed at Theatre in the Round here in Minneapolis. Here’s the 30-second preview:


Joe from the MN Movie Man Blog calls it ‘…an enjoyably well-put together film… Though its pretense may suggest a spooky ghost tale, this is a delicate, well-observed drama that has its heart, mind, and earthly spirit in the right place.’  Read the full review »


DAY 6 Highlights – Oct 22

The Armstrong Lie

TheArmstrongLie

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:30pm

Directed by Alex Gibney

Four years ago, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks) was commissioned to film Lance Armstrong’s second comeback, for the 2009 Tour de France. Years later, following Armstrong’s cheating confessions, Gibney returned to his original source material, discovering in the process an electrifying, red-handed portrait of a liar in action.

This is one of the documentary I was looking forward to the most and certainly is the most high profile playing at TCFF. Gibney is an Oscar winner and is no stranger to tackling a hot-button topic (ENRON, Wikileaks) and has won an Oscar for Taxi to The Dark Side, an exposé on the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba. I find the shift in focus of this documentary from a comeback story to one of the biggest scandal in the world of sport is particularly intriguing. It’s interesting that the producers of the film were initially big fans of Armstrong.

They Will Outlive Us All

TheyWillOutliveUsAll

Showing: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 9:30pm

Directed by Patrick Shearer

In the years since Hurricane Sandy, New York has been brought to its knees by a series of “Frankenstorms”.  Roommates Margot and Daniel attempt to survive this “new” New York by avoiding it at all costs. But with the advent of three strange deaths in their Brooklyn building, the world they’ve been hiding from is knocking hard on the back door. It’s time for our heroes to kill their TV, lay off the booze, and put out the roach… Or all of NYC could fall into the clutches of something that can’t even clutch.


TCFFTickets

Ticket Prices are as follows:
General Admission $10; Opening/Closing Gala $20; Centerpiece Gala $20; Sneak Preview Galas $20. Festival Passes can also be purchased: Silver $50 for 6 films; Gold $70 for 10 films; or Platinum $120 for 12 films + 2 tickets to Opening, Closing or Gala. (Silver and Gold Packages do not include Opening, Closing or Gala Tickets).

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.


Any one of these films caught your eye, folks?

TCFF Day 4 recap + reviews: Family-themed Shorts, Cafeteria Man, Farah Goes Bang, Diamond on Vinyl

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Hope you’re still enjoying our TCFF coverage, now on our fourth day! The only Sunday of the 10-day of TCFF, we’ve got a mix of documentary, feature as well as a collection of shorts dealing with relationships. Here’s the list of the family-themed shorts in order of appearance:

A Better Life – 12 minutes
The Mediocres – 6 minutes
The Moment – 7 minutes
Dear Daddy – 8 minutes
Fighting History – 6 minutes
The Avenue – 14 minutes
Lost at the Lake – 6 minutes
Fray – 20 minutes

ABetterLifePosterI was pretty impressed by most of these, but if I had to choose three favorites, it would be: A Better Life by Conor Holt, The Avenue by Alaina Lewis and Fray by Rob Walstead. Each have a very different theme, tone and style, but all deal with familial relationships or to be precise, the decline of relationships due to various issues like disease or addiction.

I like the sci-fi aspect of A Better Life with a the story that’s pretty deep and thought provoking. The Avenue looks at the tragic consequence of drug addiction through a mother and son relationship and doesn’t pull any punches in presenting its harsh reality. As for The Fray, it’s a personal story about a little girl dealing with her mother’s last days in the hospital who has to learn to be independent through it all. It’s a beautifully-filmed story with an amazing performance from the director’s own daughter.

Kudos to all the filmmakers for crafting such a rich, engaging story in such a short time!

TCFF_reviewer_Ruth


Here are the reviews from Day 4:

Cafeteria Man: removing the tinfoil from school lunches

by Sarah Johnson

CafeteriaManPoster31 million. That’s approximately how many American children receive meals through school lunch programs according to the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010. This initiative, and documentaries like “Cafeteria Man,” shown for free at the Twin Cities Film Fest, shine a spotlight on the efforts to reform the midday meal in educational institutions across the United States. I remember my days in grade school unwrapping a tinfoil tray of mystery meat. In the opening scene of this film, one student wistfully remarks, “I just wish we had better lunch.”

Enter Tony Geraci, a charismatic, middle-aged man with an earring who lives on a sailboat and becomes director of food service for Baltimore’s 83,000 students. “Cafeteria Man” highlights his trials and successes in remaking their school lunches as he spearheads the beginning of school vegetable gardens, nutrition education in the classroom and student designed meals. As with anything that challenges the status quo, this audacious vision is met with a mix of support and opposition from the start. Geraci institutes meatless Mondays not as a political act (“No one loves pork more than me,” he opines) but simply as a way to begin a conversation about eating differently. It does not endear him to the meat industry.

This documentary also smashes one of the underlying myths of introducing healthy food- that kids won’t eat it. “You’ll hear that inner city kids don’t want to eat this,” says urban farming pioneer Will Allen, also featured in the food documentary “Fresh.” “That’s not true.” As to reinforce this point, director Richard Chisolm shows a junior high student burying his nose in a bunch of basil he grew.
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Alas, the bureaucracy takes its toll on Geraci and we are told toward the end of the film that he has resigned his position. The short running time of 65 minutes left me a little confused about certain aspects of the movie like who was Tony Geraci and what were his qualifications to take that job? Even a couple of sentences at the beginning of the movie would have been sufficient.

The movie ends on a hopeful note, highlighting passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorizes funding to increase access to healthy food for federal school meal and nutrition programs. And indeed it does seem like this model can be or is being replicated across the country. (Bertrand Weber, who became Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services for Minneapolis Public Schools in January 2012, is spearheading a similar movement, including installing salad bars in each school.) As entertainment, “Cafeteria Man” was an entertaining look at one of our nation’s most pressing issues. As a documentary, it serves as a catalyst to move this conversation forward.
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4 out of 5 reels

TCFF_reviewer_Ruth


Farah Goes Bang

by Adam Wells

FarahGoesBangBnrFarah Goes Bang is a film about a young woman of Persian decent named Farah, played by Nikohl Boosheri, and her two friends KJ (Kandis Erickson) and Roupa (Kiran Deol) as they embark on a road trip to campaign for presidential candidate John Kerry in the fall of 2004. The three of them are recent college graduates unable to find jobs so they volunteer for the Kerry campaign instead. Farah is also a virgin and her friends are very enthusiastic about her losing her virginity.

The movie uses the setting of 2004 very well. The three main characters travel the country going from very different political climates on each stop of their campaign road trip. The filmmakers didn’t shy away from how awkward it can be talking to strangers . Through many encounters we see that these girls are not that best campaigners but they are passionate about the issues John Kerry campaigns on.

The main character Farah’s storyline is an interesting take on the 20-something virgin. It seems so common in American culture for men and women to lose their virginity in their teens, that when a film focuses on someone who didn’t, they seem very weird, or to quote the character of KJ “defective.” But the film makes Farah out to be a fully functioning adult female who doesn’t seem incomplete because she’s a virgin though we do see her struggles as she interacts with men throughout the film as she feels  pressured by not just her friends but society’s norms, and she challenges those norms because she’s strong enough to go against the norm.

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The three main characters are very well written and acted. Through different interactions either with each other or characters outside of their group, we see they are individuals with a good amount of depth to them and don’t fall into a stereotype, though they have some cliche’ characteristics to them, it helps flesh out their characters completely and see the depth they have to them.

The film is shot well, particularly the night scenes have very little grain. The cinematography overall is good. The one thing to note on the cinematography is the handheld camera shots are a little too shaky and can take the viewer out of the movie at times, but they are only used in a few scenes in the movie.

Farah Goes Bang is a must see for those who crave movies with multiple female characters with depth to them, something film culture today seems to a huge void in. The 2004 election backdrop for this movie acts as some dreaded dramatic irony for the audience as people who will watch this know how the 2004 election turned out and will dread seeing the main characters disappointment when their candidate doesn’t win, but the film is much more about the journey and growth the characters go through their experience in the campaign.

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4 out of 5 reels

TCFF_reviewer_Adam


Diamond on Vinyl – What’s Your Reality?

by Sarah Johnson

DiamondOnVinylPosterWhat happens to people who can’t accept reality? “Diamond on Vinyl,” the sophomore effort from filmmaker J.R. Hughto, centers on one such character. The movie begins as Beth (Nina Millin) is leaving her boyfriend Henry (Brian McGuire) after listening to his digital recorder and hearing, among other things, his musings about whether he actually loves her. It seems that Henry likes to rehearse conversations with the hope that it will work out how he envisions. Apparently no one ever told him life doesn’t always go according to plan. (Some would say it never does.)

As Beth is crying in her car over this revelation, she is unexpectedly comforted by Charlie (Sonja Kinski, granddaughter of German actor Klaus Kinski and daughter of actress Nastassja Kinski), a passerby who lends a sympathetic ear and volunteers to return Beth’s key to Henry. Hinting at her own voyeuristic tendencies, she seems way too interested in the situation and confronts Henry about his recordings. A bizarre series of meetings between the two begin as they start recording sessions at first focused on Henry’s attempt to win Beth back but then drift into scenarios that may be real or not. This is interestingly portrayed by Hughto by overlapping conversations with actual voices in the background as if blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

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Any thought that this may be a harmless hobby for Henry is put to rest when he visits a man who voiced “Safe and Sound,” old records featuring conversations between a man and a woman that you could turn on as you leave to make it seem like you’re still home. As Henry strives for perfection in his interactions with other people and holds these records as his ideal, he seems unwilling to accept that they are unedited even after the man shrugs saying “it is what it is” and gets kicked out of his house.

I would have liked to see the character of Charlie explored a little more as I wasn’t sure if she was exploiting Henry’s neuroses to satisfy her own voyeuristic tendencies or if he was a kindred spirit. (Or, since the movie ends rather abruptly, maybe that is the point of leaving that question unanswered.) There is also an interesting unspoken comparison of different mediums of voyeurism as she is a photographer and he uses a digital recorder. One note on the visual aspect of the movie- it’s shot as if by a handheld camera to give it a harsh, gritty feel (“The Wrestler” is another movie with similar viewing). I realize that’s by design but mostly it just gives me a headache.

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2 out of 5 reels

TCFF_reviewer_Ruth


So that about wraps up our Day 4 reviews. Any thoughts about any of these films?