Cheers Virtual Cinema! Minnesota Film Festivals go online

In this strange and difficult times, it’s particularly tough for movie fans everywhere as movie theaters are closed and new movies are being delayed as we’re all in lockdown mode. But hey, I just thought how we should still be grateful we live in the age of the internet! Imagine if this happened in a time where there’s no online content to help us cope and escape from our every day life… I mean Coronavirus or not, I honestly can’t imagine life without having internet access!

The MSPIFF tag line for this year’s fest is ​Adjust Your View… I can’t imagine whoever came up with that has a crystal ball to predict that we’ll be in this um, predicament. Nor would that person realize how fitting that tagline as the audience is called to adjust our view as to how to experience a film festival. Per this MNDaily article, The MSP Film Society’s Virtual Cinema Collection platform, which went live March 20, offers access to what programming director Jesse Bishop calls “festival-style content.” It will be open 1-3 new movies every Friday, with most films running for at least two weeks. Ticket prices range from $10 to $12, and films are available for viewing anywhere from 48 hours to a few days after purchase, depending on the film. Here are just a small sampling of the lineup…


A thriller-like true story of one of the most spectacular escapes of the 20th Century.

With a theatrical release to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Germany’s reunification, Balloon is based on the true events of one of the most daring escapes of the Cold War in which two families living in Communist East Germany sailed over the heavily fortified border in a homemade hot-air balloon.


Now this one is by an acclaimed female director with a star-studded cast!

Sally Potter’s The Roads Not Taken follows a day in the life of Leo (Javier Bardem) and his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning) as she grapples with the challenges of her father’s chaotic mind. While they weave their way through New York City, Leo’s journey takes on a hallucinatory quality as he floats through alternate lives he could have lived, leading Molly to wrestle with her own path as she considers her future. Also starring Salma Hayek and Laura Linney.


The Etruscan Smile will be ready for home viewing starting tomorrow. I love Brian Cox, so definitely intrigued by this.

The Etruscan Smile stars Brian Cox (HBO’s Succession and recent Broadway leading man in The Great Society) as Rory MacNeil, a rugged old Scotsman who reluctantly leaves his beloved isolated Hebridean island and travels to San Francisco to seek medical treatment. Moving in with his estranged son, Rory’s life will be transformed, just when he expects it least, through a newly found love for his baby grandson.

MSPIFF isn’t the only MN film festival that offers online programming. Twin Cities Film Fest also launched its own independent movie streaming platform, called TCFF Streams, on April 6. Not only would the platform offer thought provoking and entertaining American independent storytelling content, it will also spotlight past TCFF films and filmmakers, alongside other award winning content from across the country. Best of all, TCFF will revenue share with our artists!

Check out some of the best indie docs, feature films and shorts that have screened at TCFF. Even as we’re self-quarantining amidst state-mandated lockdown, we can still support local non-profit organizations AND the filmmakers that made the films!

What are YOUR thoughts about film festivals going virtual? 

7 thoughts on “Cheers Virtual Cinema! Minnesota Film Festivals go online

  1. I think for smaller festivals, having these virtual film festivals do help them as it at least gives audiences the chance to see these small films on a VOD platform.

    Then there’s big festivals like Cannes, Toronto, Venice, and Telluride and it’s too complicated considering how big they are and the money they needed to make.

    1. You’re right Steven, I think smaller festivals have more flexibility than huge ones to create virtual viewing platform. I feel bad for film fest organizers around the world to have to deal with such headache we’re going thru now.

      1. I know. I just came home from the supermarket with my mom to get some things as going to the supermarket is no longer fun. Finding out that certain things you love are gone and you have to settle for something else and such. Plus, having to spend more money. This is not living.

  2. The Roads Not Taken looks interesting, Bardem seems to always love to star in these emotional dramas. It’s good though that some of these smaller films can be seen online, otherwise it wouldn’t get notice at all if it doesn’t go to some of these film festivals.

    With no theaters opening up anytime soon, I wonder what the big festivals like Cannes will do now.

    1. I think Bardem + his wife Penelope Cruz seem to be drawn to emotional dramas, no wonder they’re drawn to each other romantically too!

      Yeah, I honestly don’t know how Cannes and other big festivals are gonna cope with all the loss. It’s crazy though that Venice Film Festival organizers are still adamant they won’t postpone/cancel theirs, I mean who wants to go to Northern Italy anytime soon?

      1. I didn’t know the Venice Film Fest organizers are still hoping to have the festival this year. I don’t think anyone can get in or out Italy right now or any time in the near future. The company I work for have an office Venice and none of the people can leave the country. Some people in that office would travel to meet our team here in MN but they couldn’t leave the country since late February.

  3. Pingback: Lisa’s Week in Review: 4/20/20 — 04/26/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

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