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 Chloé 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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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—Sebastián 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 Salmerón, 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 Schémbori, Paraguay, 2017, Narrative
  • Inca, El—Ignacio Castillo Cottin, Venezuela, 2016, Narrative
  • Killing Jesús (Matar a Jesús)—Laura Mora, Colombia/Argentina, 2016, Narrative
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo Salmerón, 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.

  • Affamés, 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—Rüdiger 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 Salmerón, 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 Coté, 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 über 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 Coté, 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 (Charmøren)—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 (Tämä hetki kaislikossa)—Mikko Makela, Finland/UK, 2017, Narrative | Mikko Makela Attending
  • Under the Tree ( Undir trénu)—Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, 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 fény)—Márta Mészáros, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Barefoot (Po strništi bos)—Jan Sverák, 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’à 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—Rüdiger 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 (Muškarci ne plaču)—Alen Drljević, Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia/Slovenia/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Miracle (Stebuklas)—Egle Vertelyte, Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland/UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Montparnasse Bienvenue—Lénor 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 (Numéro 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 über das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Whisky Bandit (A Viszkis)—Nimród 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*
  • Béa—José 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 árboles)—Crystal Avila, USA, 2017*
  • Bike Trip—Tom Schroeder, USA, 2017*
  • Birthday Night (Shab e Tavalod)—Omid Shams, Iran, 2017
  • Botanica—Noël 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)—Valérie 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—Një Muaj, Kosovo, 2017
  • Mud (Hashtł’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: Lumière 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 (Charmøren)—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 (Muškarci 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 (Tämä 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 (Numéro 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 über das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary* | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Whisky Bandit (A Viszkis)—Nimród 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—Një Muaj, Kosovo, 2017
  • Mud (Hashtł’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 fény)—Márta Mészáros, 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 Jesús (Matar a Jesús)—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—Lénor 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 (Numéro 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 árboles)—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)—Valérie 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 (Hashtł’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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#MSPIFF #MSPFILM

 


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?

TCFF 2017 Reviews: Little Pink House + The Ballad of Lefty Brown

There aren’t enough days in TCFF to post all the reviews. In fact, I still have a few more TCFF reviews coming your way next week, which will be interspersed with new release reviews such as Only The Brave, The Foreigner and The Snowman.

Thanks to TCFF blog contributor Andy Ellis for these reviews. Definitely something to check out when it’s released near you.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown
review by Andy Ellis

If there is one thing that makes The Ballad of Lefty Brown stand out from other westerns it’s Bill Pullman‘s performance. The story itself is a different take on the revenge-type western, because the underdog takes center stage. Lefty Brown (Pullman) witnesses his partner get murdered in front of him, and vows to find the men responsible.

For a western it’s great. There’s plenty of gun fights and suspense to go around. And there are definitely scenes that allow the supporting cast to shine. Peter Fonda plays Edward Johnson, Brown’s partner, and does a great job with the limited screen time he has. Kathy Baker is great as his wife Laura playing a woman is suddenly dealing her husband’s death, keeping the farm going, and finding out who killed her husband. Tommy Flanagan shines as the hardened Federal Marshal Tom Harrah and a longtime friend of Johnson and Brown, who is still trying to overcome a tragedy from his past. Jim Caviezel and Diego Josef also have great supporting parts that make for very memorable scenes.

This, however, is Pullman’s film. If there ever was role that would should garner him some sort of acclaim from critics and awards voters, this would be it. He transforms into Brown, a sidekick with a who no one sees as someone who is capable of successfully avenging his partner’s death. He’s got a bad limp so he’s not always the smoothest at moving, may be mentally slow, and other peculiarties as well.

He overcomes all of that, with a few missteps along the way, with a determination to get justice for his friend. Even with everyone telling him someone else will take care of it, he’s going to get it done or die trying. Everyone can come along for the ride if they want.

Yes, the story is about revenege. But it’s also about one man with a really big heart. And despite all the obstacles in his way won’t even let the possibility of death get in the way of getting justice for his partner, a man who gave him everything.


Little Pink House
Review by Andy Ellis

Academy Award-nominated actress Catherine Keener (Get Out, 40-Year-Old-Virgin) may find herself in the running again with Little Pink House. Adapted from the book Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage by Jeff Benedict, it’s centered around Susette Kelo (Keener) and the events that led up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the Kelo vs. City of New London. The decision allowed the government to bulldoze neighborhood property for the benefit of a multibillion-dollar corporation.

The story consists of many characters, but there are two that stand out the most: Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn who plays Charlotte Wells. She’s hired by the governor of Connecticut to convince the citizens of New London to let the government buy their homes. Tripplehorn delivers a great performance as Wells who is undeterred by any obstacles put in her way, but you still really hope she fails.

Keener, who resembles the real-life Kelo pretty well, delivers a great performance of a woman starting over. She just wants to be able to live in her home, but when Wells and the government try taking that away she’s determined, passionate, and rarely loses her composure.

These two women lead a talented supporting cast including Aaron Douglas, Miranda Frigon, and Callum Keith Rennie. They and many others all contribute special moments to the film.

The fact that this is a true story makes it that much more powerful. It’s a story about defiance, courage, and hope. Despite its outcome, this is a movie that have you cheering from your seat.


Have you seen these films? Well, what did you think?

 

Twin Cities Film Fest 2017 has wrapped! Check out the list of winners!

It’s one for the books!

The 8th annual fun-filled cinematic marathon has officially wrapped last night with yet another festive closing night party.

Pardon the lack of post yesterday as it was literally an extremely jam-packed day and I’ve also been hit with a bit of a cold and cough. Every single TCFF staff and volunteers pretty much ran on adrenaline around the 11-day film fest, but hey, time still flew when you’re having a great time!

The best part of covering TCFF is discovering new films, filmmakers, and talents. And boy, just in the last two days of the fest, I saw three of my top 5 films…

The three films may seem very different on the outset in terms of setting and plot, but they actually have similar themes of letting go of the past, growing up and celebrating life for what it is. The female-led Instructions For Living, directed by Sarah Heinss based on a script by Heinss and Morgan Owens, deservedly won the Audience Award for narrative feature.

Writer/Director/Actress Sarah Heinss, Writer/Actress Morgan Owens, Actor Drew Paslay, and Producer Maggie Hart were at the red carpet, interviewed by our host Amanda Day, on the first screening of the film on Saturday 10/21.


Two of my fave films starred this year’s Indie Vision Breakthrough Award recipient Josh Wiggins, who’s absolutely phenomenal in both films, playing the teenage son of Matt Bomer in Walking Out and J.K. Simmons in The Bachelors. This 18-year-old young man certainly showed an incredible range as well as screen presence. I think people will hear more of him in the future and I’m glad to say I first saw Josh at TCFF and got to talk to him a bit at the after party.

Here he is being interviewed by one of our awesome hosts Rachel Weber before the Walking Out screening:

On the festival’s closing day, TCFF also honored actress, and Minnesota native, Rachael Leigh Cook (who’s the lead in the modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with the festival’s coveted North Star Award.

 

On Saturday I started the day with learning from great filmmakers!

Two of those filmmakers’ films are one of the finalists for Best Feature Film award, Alex and Andrew Smith for Walking Out and Kurt Voelker for The Bachelors.

TCFF announced its 2017 award winners Saturday evening, recognizing films in ten top categories. The 11-day event showcased more than 140 titles — 60% of which were directed by women — and facilitated a broader conversation around the social cause of addiction (our theme for this year’s Changemaker Series)

The full list of 2017 award winners:

  • Best Feature Film: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” directed by Martin McDonagh.
  • Best Documentary: “Human Flow,” directed by Ai Weiwei
  • Best Short Film: “Cat Killer,” directed by Wes Jones.
  • Audience Award, Narrative: “Instructions For Living,” directed by Sarah Heinss (Runner-Up: “Aquarians,” directed by Michael M. McGuire)
  • Audience Award, Non-Fiction: “Coyote,” directed by Thomas Simmons (Runner-Up: “Victor’s Last Class,” directed by Brendan Brandt)
  • Audience Award, Short Film: “Hearts Want,” directed by Jason P. Schumacher (Runner-Up: “Wet Dreams: One Woman’s Chance at Touching Gold,” directed by Darren Coyle)
  • Indie Vision Breakthrough Award — Narrative: Madelyn Deutch (screenplay, “The Year of Spectacular Men”)
  • Indie Vision Breakthrough Award — Non-Fiction: “8 Borders, 8 Days,” directed by Amanda Bailly
  • Indie Vision Breakthrough Award – Best Performance: Josh Wiggins (“The Bachelors” and “Walking Out”)
  • Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: “Lady Lillian,” directed by Amber Johnson
  • North Star Award for Excellence: Rachael Leigh Cook

TCFF 2017 Changemaker Award: Lexi Reed Holtum, executive director and lobbyist of the Steve Rummler Hope Network, for her work advocating on behalf of Steve’s Law and the 2015 state funding that enabled first responders to have the resources they need to implement the law.

Congrats to ALL of the TCFF 2017 winners!!

You can watch the video of the awards ceremony on FB by clicking the image below (the LIVE video cannot be embedded here)

Of course THIS was the biggest surprise of the night… at least for me!

Apparently the TCFF Award Finalists were announced on Friday 10/27 afternoon, but I didn’t check it until much later. To be a finalist amongst these great short films is just unbelievable… I’m still pinching myself!!

Best Short Film: “Afterword,” directed by Boris Seewald; “Cat Killer,” directed by Wes Jones; “Hearts Want,” directed by Jason P. Schumacher; “Resolutions,” directed by Tamara Fisch; and “Sundogs,” directed by Elizabeth Chatelain.

We didn’t win Best Short but as you can see in the picture above, we did win the Audience Award, woot woot!! That’s a second one for our director Jason P. Schumacher, his short film Sad Clown won the Audience Award in 2014.

Most of our cast/crew reunited on the TCFF red carpet on Thursday 10/26

I was a nervous wreck on the red carpet as you can see below… but hey I survived 😉 Check out Jason’s blue hair for Halloween, inspired by X-Men’s Mystique!

I’m so thrilled to have my dear friend & Hearts Want‘s lead actress Sam Simmons in town for the main TCFF premiere! She flew in from L.A. just hours before the red carpet and looked stunning as ever. So fun seeing Sam reunited w/ her co-stars Peter Christian Hansen and Noah Gillet last Thursday. I gotta say our short film’s cast are VERY easy on the eyes aren’t they? And they’re all so darn talented and fun to work with, too!

 


Here are some of the pics from Hearts Want‘s red carpet on Thursday night. Thanks to Dallas Smith, TCFF’s lead photographer for some of the photos.

See the recap of TCFF festivities in images
(again thanks Dallas & team) in Smugmug.


Well the film fest may be over but I’ve still got a few more reviews I’ll be posting in the coming weeks (Ruin Me, Flora, Walking Out, The Bachelors, etc.) as well as my interviews with the filmmakers from Darcy, actor Adam Ambruso, and more!). For a daily recap with reviews/interviews, etc., check out the TCFF page.

We’ll be back for TCFF 2018 next October!

 

TCFF 2017 Reviews: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri + Blue Balloons

It’s just two days left in TCFF and I’m playing catch-up with posting reviews! You might’ve noticed I’ve got to post a couple of things in a day at times… too many films too little time (both to watch and to review!)

Well, below are couple of reviews from Day 6 and 7.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
review by Andy Ellis

It’s described as a dark comedy, but writer and director Martin McDonagh’s newest film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, has a lot more to offer. The film, led by Frances McDormand who plays Mildred who causes some small town chaos by using three billboards to ask local officials why they haven’t found her daughter’s murderer and rapist yet.

A subject such as this must be treaded upon carefully, and it’s done very well here. The humor comes from the fact that none of the characters hold anything back. Mildred has has no problem telling the local priest how she really feels, or anyone else for that matter. Sam Rockwell shines as Dixon,  a small-minded Sheriff’s Deputy with a short temper ends up costing him dearly in one key scene. If there’s a character who keeps his calm the best in the story it’s Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson, the main target of Mildred’s billboard messages.

It’s also a film with a lot of heart in it as well, and it helps round out the characters. One scene causes causes Mildred to switch moods so fast you’ll realize that beneath that pissed-off no-nonsense barrier is a mother that just wants her daughter back. And this role may even earn McDormond some awards recognition, and then same goes for Rockwell.

The rest of the cast rounds out the story pretty well, too, with each one getting their own chance to shine—and they do. Lucas Hodges plays Mildred’s son Robbie who isn’t all on board with his mom’s methods, and Abbie Cornish plays the Sheriff’s wife Anne. Caleb Landry Jones has great scenes as Red Welby the owner of the billboards, and Peter Dinklage has a very small but memorable role. John Hawkes plays Charlie, Mildred’s ex-husband, and Samara Weaving steals the show a couple times as Penelope, Charlie’s young girlfriend.

This film is a great mix of everything, and throws more than a few a surprises in there as well. The acting is superb and it’ll leave you wanting more. Now if only more films would grab a hold of you like this one did.


BLUE BALLOONS
Review by Ruth Maramis

This is one of the films with a Minnesota connection that I actually didn’t know much about. So I pretty much going in blindly about the story, other than the fact that the story deals with a terminal illness.

Right from the start, this film feels deeply personal. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but Blue Balloons is an honest, realistic story about a family gripping with the complexity of cancer. Written, directed and produced by Emily Troedson, who also acts as the eldest daughter Claire of the Kippson family, the story is told from her perspective. I like that it paints the day-to-day life of the family in a matter-of-fact, candid way… especially in the way Claire is questioning her faith and her existence in a devout Lutheran community.

Chari and Emily in Blue Balloons

The film’s pacing is a bit slow and really tries your patience at times. I have to say some of the acting by the supporting cast aren’t convincing (crying with no tears visible??), but overall it’s a well-crafted piece with genuinely poignant moments as well as interesting artistic choices. I wish there were more mother-daughter relationship being explored here, though I think the dynamic of the family is portrayed pretty well.

Chari Eckmann as Joanne

I connected most with Emily’s character and she did an amazing job juggling so many roles in the film. Being a daughter who dealt with an ill mother at a young age, there are parts that was hard to watch for me. I also have to commend Chari Eckmann‘s performance (as the cancer-stricken Joanne), her emotional transformation and deterioration throughout the film is believable.

Glad to see so many talented writer/director like Emily having their films at TCFF! I sure hope she continues to make films in the future.


There’s more films and festivities to be had at TCFF!

 

TCFF 2017 Interviews: TWIN CITIES’ writer/director David Ash and RUIN ME’s actor Alex Galick


It’s already Day 9 of the film fest! Whew, time sure flies when you’re having fun! Science, Relationship, Horror … definitely there’s something for everyone in today’s lineup!

We had the privilege of getting the insights from the people involved with two of the feature films playing today, Twin Cities and Ruin Me. So check ’em out below:

“Salvaging a marriage takes time and trust, two things that John and Emily no longer have. Emily is a writer with a career threatening case of writer’s block and deadlines approaching. The pressure to finish her novel grows when John sinks into depression and quits his job … right before their first baby is due.

As they head toward a mutual meltdown, John is given a terminal diagnosis that forces him to reassess his life and attempt to save his marriage—before it’s too late. However, inner peace proves elusive, the marriage might be too far gone, and John’s life may not be what it seems.”

At a glance, a film dealing with a troubled marriage, wife suffering from writer’s block, depressed husband haunted by his past, it sounds like a downer. But Twin Cities is actually a pretty entertaining film with plenty of humorous moments. It’s actually a lot funnier than you think, but also has a lot of poignant moments and spiritual matters that would make you ponder about your own life. Plus there’s also an interesting twist you won’t see coming. 

David Ash on set

Twin Cities is actually a sequel to David Ash‘s feature film debut 2021 (which premiered at TCFF a couple of years ago). Clarence Wethern and Bethany Ford were both in 2021, and they’re both excellent in the lead roles in this one as well. They both balance the dramatic and humorous moments wonderfully, Clarence has such a natural comic timing that’s fun to watch.

Clarence and Bethany in a still from TWIN CITIES

The leading man of my short film Heart’s Want, Peter Christian Hansen, also have a supporting role in this film. I can’t say too much about his character without giving too much away of the plot though, but he’s a terrific addition to the cast. Hearts Want‘s director Jason P. Schumacher also produced this film and did the extras casting as well.

Q: What would you say are the main themes of the film?

Q: When you finished ‘2021’ did you already have a plan/concept to make a follow-up to that?

Q: Did you have a lot of prep work with your two lead actors despite having done a film together before?

Q: Tell me a bit about your decision to cast Peter Hansen in the role of David?


THANK YOU David Ash for chatting with me about TWIN CITIES!

There is a TCFF screening tonight at 8:45 that’s sold out, but there’s a RUSH LINE so if you get there in time you just might be able to see this film on the big screen.


Thanks Laura Schaubschlager for this interview article with actor ALEX GALICK from Ruin Me:

Horror movies can be polarizing. It seems like there are either hardcore fans of the genre, or people who are too scared to watch even the cheesiest of slasher films, with very little middle ground. However, independent film Ruin Me (written by Trysta A. Bissett and Preston DeFrancis) has the potential to appeal to both sides. Since its premiere in August, the movie has received overwhelmingly positive responses from audiences at nearly twenty film festivals (including London’s FrightFest and Los Angeles’s Screamfest-the longest running horror film festival in the U.S.), several nominations and awards, and a current IMDB rating of 7.8 (an exceptional score for a horror movie).

I had the opportunity to chat with Alex Galick, Ruin Me cast member and local actor, to discuss the film, his involvement in it, and the horror genre as a whole.

While on the surface, Ruin Me is a traditional horror film with familiar tropes, there’s more to (what Alex and others involved in the film call) this “sophisticated slasher” than meets the eye. “It definitely pays homage to the genre,” Alex explains. “But the focus is less on the jump scares and gore and more on mystery and character.” Despite the story taking place at an extreme event that is essentially a horror movie-themed camping trip, the movie itself is more of a psychological thriller. The main character, Alexandra (Marcienne Dwyer), is not just the stereotypical “final girl,” but a multifaceted character with a complex background. “[She] has a checkered past that may or may not be involved with what’s happening,” Alex hints.

As for Alex’s character (listed only as “The Skinny Kid” on IMDB), you’ll have to see the movie to find out more, as going into detail might give away some spoilers. “What is it Jeff Sessions says? ‘I plead the fifth,'” Alex laughs. “I can’t give you the skinny on The Skinny Kid.” It sounds like his portrayal of this mystery character will be quite the performance, though; while the filmmakers were originally thinking of casting someone from Muskegon, Michigan (where Ruin Me was filmed), they were so impressed with Alex’s reel that they decided to go with him instead, even though it meant having him regularly make the nearly 9-hour drive for filming.

Ruin Me isn’t Alex’s first venture into horror. His first professional film role was in the 2013 thriller Fractured (starring Vinnie Jones and Callum Blue), and more recently, he wrapped on the upcoming horror comedy Ahockalypse, which was filmed here in Minnesota. While he isn’t necessarily a horror fan himself, he’s developed an appreciation for the genre through his work in it. “I think horror has an amazing fanbase,” he says. “The people who love to watch horror love it in a way I don’t think other genres enjoy…I have a great respect for the roller coasters these films take us on. They create visceral experiences, and that’s translatable, I think, across cultural boundaries.”

Based on initial responses, it sounds like Ruin Me will be a similar cinematic roller coaster experience. While the film may subvert some tropes, the writers were still very loyal to the horror genre, spending nearly five years researching and putting serious effort into making this something die-hard horror fans will appreciate.

Those of you in or near the Twin Cities have two chances to catch Ruin Me during TCFF at the Showplace ICON in St. Louis Park:

Thursday, October 26th at 10:15 PM and
Saturday, October 28th at 11:00 PM.

Get your tickets here


What’s in store for Day 10!

There are still a slew of great films playing in the last two days of TCFF! Some are starring Oscar winners (J.K. Simmons in The Bachelors) and Oscar-worthy films such as Darkest Hour (starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill).

Stay tuned for even more daily TCFF coverage!


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TCFF Reviews – ‘Legends of the Road’ doc + various short films in Comedy, Thriller, Global Perspective & Documentary short blocks

We have passed the halfway mark! What a hectic, whirlwind week it has been. I spoke to TCFF Managing Director Bill Cooper the other day and he said something about all the staff having ‘festival brain’ and that’s definitely how I feel. I’ve watched so many films it’s kind of a blur!

Thankfully I have awesome guest bloggers to help me out… such as Sarah Johnson who’s helped me with reviews of the short films, as well as the Legends of the Road documentary. Being a huge baseball fan, that’s the one Sarah couldn’t wait to see!

So here are her reviews:

Full disclosure: I am a big baseball fan and love the game’s history so am not the most unbiased person to review “Legends of the Road” and therefore I will not be giving it a rating. However, as soon as I saw this movie on the schedule I knew I wanted to see it. As a reviewer often has to see and objectively review movies that may not be appealing to them personally, I felt the opposite could also be true.

The film itself is well done, directed and edited by award-winning documentarian Gary Thomsen, who also happens to be a former Seattle teacher. It tells the extraordinary story of Thomsen’s students from Chief Sealth High School in Washington and their classroom project: to uncover the history of barnstorming, a baseball phenomenon from the early 20th century where all black teams traveled throughout the country playing in money tournaments against local white town teams for a cut of the gate. The project then culminated in a summer long re-creation of this era with a 5,100 mile, 71 day trip done on bicycle while playing 33 games along the way.

These ballplayers (some may have heard of the most famous ones including Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson because they also played in the more well known Negro Leagues) helped dispel the notion of white supremacy, not just on the field, but in society, leading Martin Luther King to say that “they laid down the first plank in the civil rights movement.” This is where the film really shines – the story is about much more than baseball. Former Negro Leaguer Buck O’Neil, who came to national prominence with his vivid descriptions of black baseball in Ken Burns’s PBS documentary “Baseball,” is also one of the stars of this film. “This is about the history of our country,” O’Neil says at one point.

One of the other large aspects to the film is another thing that is not new: adults underestimating what kids can accomplish and bureaucrats not in classrooms dictating how students should be taught. “This is not part of the curriculum, nor is it part of anything I’ve seen in vocational education. I don’t understand why you want to do this,” June Rimmer, the chief academic officer for Seattle Public Schools, said. I’d like to check back with the students involved in this project in 20 years and hear their memories on their breadth of work that was “not part of the curriculum.”

For this project, students conducted all of the research, honed public speaking skills to make presentations to companies in the hopes of securing sponsors for the trip, managed logistics of food, lodging and game preparation…as well as shot footage to be used in the documentary. There were two distinct groups of students involved with the trip – those on the logistics and production side and the baseball players who rode bicycles from town to town (often covering more than 100 miles per day) and then played in games throughout the trip. “It was incredibly challenging logistically,” Thomsen says at one point. Gee, you think? At one point I began to wonder if young people could have been the only ones to pull this off – the movie doesn’t mention anything about how (if at all) the bike riders went about training for this adventure. Perhaps that’s something you don’t need to worry about when you’re in high school – oh, to be young again.

The film is very comprehensive in covering all aspects of the project, from the origination of the idea to the celebration at the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City at the end of the trip. Just because I’m a fan of baseball history, the one thing that left me wanting more was the end product of all of the research – where did all of that information end up? I’m assuming it was sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame but even a mention of this at the end of the film would have helped. Baseball fans will certainly appreciate “Legends of the Road” but other audiences should also enjoy this addition to our nation’s ongoing conversation on race and education.

Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, being interviewed by TCFF host Amanda Day

SHORT FILMS reviews

Humbug

“Humbug,” the short film highlighting those with no holiday spirit, will appeal to those who greet that time of the year with dread. As I am one of those people, I appreciated the premise of this seven minute piece. When Scarlet (Jessee Foudray) crushes a gingerbread cookie offered by her peppy neighbor Betty (Milly Sanders, also the writer), Betty decides to embark on a series of steps worthy of a horror film to change her mind. “We’ll have to do this the hard way,” Betty calmly tells Scarlet.

The scenario is well played by both actresses and the mix of over-the-top Christmas imagery and ghastly bodily functions will satisfy those who have had enough December cheer to last a lifetime. The ending was a little too convenient for me but overall this short film is an entertaining one.

Girl Meets Roach

I have reviewed full length and short films for the Twin Cities Film Fest for several years and sometimes I come across a piece of work that I’m not sure if it was meant to be reviewed. Such is the case with “Girl Meets Roach,” the 17 minute short film by brother and sister team Alison Zatta (Writer and Lead Actress) and Christopher Zatta (Director). In his bio, Christopher writes that he formed King Fish Productions as a platform to write and direct independent material.

I can only hope that they are using “Girl Meets Roach” as practice to hone their skills. The premise and execution of this story are entirely cliché – girl gets dumped by her boyfriend, we cut to obligatory scenes of her listening to old messages while moping around her house, the best friend comes over, the jilted girlfriend plans revenge…it just goes on. I appreciate the role of film festivals to support new work by independent artists and hope “Girl Meets Roach” was merely a practice turn to get experience in this field.

Afterword

Describing “Afterword,” Director and Co-Writer Boris Seewald explains it as “A film about loneliness, self-discovery and one person’s pursuit of glory. It examines not only the wider journey of appreciation, but also the need to be heard by those who love and loved you, and the need to be heard by yourself.” Lofty goals for a ten minute short film.

What follows is a woman (Marama Corlett) bringing you into her world of philosophical ramblings on…well, pretty much anything. (One line in this film is “if you are a bird, watch where you poop.” I am not making this up.) The only highlight is the performance by Corlett – with her pageboy haircut, red beret and piercing stare she admirably draws you into her stream of consciousness. The rest of it still has me baffled.

Tagati

“Tagati” Director Bill Haley is upfront about his short film being a sort of trailer for a feature film based on the concept presented at the Twin Cities Film Fest. “The Sopranos” in a roadside diner is how I thought of the opening scene, as Aja (LaTonya Grant) meets with a hitman named only as Badass (Mark Simms) to do away with her husband.

It’s a peek into a stylish film noir thriller complete with pulsating music and expert direction. Trailers are supposed to get audiences interested and excited to see the full length movie – this piece certainly succeeded.

Marieke

“It’s not just a piece of cheese.” While there have been negative consequences about the advent of the internet and social media, one of the fun things has been the ability for people skilled in a particular niche to connect with others who share their passion. Such is the case in “Marieke,” the seven minute short film by Director/Editor Thomas Johnson, who profiles acclaimed Dutch gouda cheesemaker Marieke Penterman from Thorp, Wisconsin.

I am not a cheese connoisseur but I can relate to one’s appreciation for the finer aspects of a certain hobby or profession. (I am a big baseball fan and could spend all day talking about it.) Penterman cheerfully takes you into her cheese adventures, explaining how her cows have personality and the process that goes into hand painting a skin around the yellowish rounds to preserve it but still let it breathe. “Marieke” was a refreshing look into her world.

Science Olympiad

High school was a long time ago for me so watching films like “Science Olympiad” give me hope for the next generation. It not only features teenage students, it was also made by a teenage student, 17 year old Elise Tsai from the Twin Cities. She focuses on an extra curricular activity in which teams of 15 students compete in 23 events involving science, technology and engineering. The film focuses on Mounds View High School (a suburb of Minneapolis) and their incredibly successful team – winner of 11 state championships and five consecutive top ten finishes in the nation.

“You have to spend a lot of time looking up parts, trying them out and if it doesn’t work you have to try it again,” one student says. Seems like the work you need to put into anything in life to succeed. (Indeed, at the end of the film it notes that one of the participants is going to be studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.) Although their creations are fascinating, the kids are really the stars of the show and their positive energy and enthusiasm is infectious. As one student says, “at its core, it’s just fun.”

Double talk

What a delight this film was on a familiar but rarely highlighted craft! In “Double Talk,” director Jessica Bernstein-Wax features the work of Spanish actor Joan Pera, who has worked as an onscreen dubber for famous actors, most notably Woody Allen. Often denigrated as the ugly stepchild in the film industry, it’s clear Pera takes pride in his craft, especially in the scenes with his son who also works in the same line of work.

He and his son enjoy a friendly rivalry when the father is called in to dub some of his son’s work. “There’s always room for improvement,” the son says, critiquing the job his father did. “In my case it’s hard,” the father replies. I don’t speak Spanish (or Catalan, the regional dialect also featured) but, having seen many Woody Allen films, it’s amazing how Pera replicates Allen’s voice intonation and mannerisms. Bernstein-Wax’s first film has been well received, garnering the Jury Award for Best Short Documentary at the Sonoma International Film Festival earlier this year. I can see why.

The Courtesy of Angels

Created by a French filmmaker, Valerie Theodore, “The Courtesy of Angels” has taken a universal story around the world. It tells the story of Louise (Delphine Theodore), a young caretaking assistant, and her interactions with an amnesic old man, Mr. Vadim (Andre Oumansky). This short film is in French with English subtitles.

The theme of interconnectedness among generations is global and I found myself drawn to one of the movie’s main lines – “well being is the courtesy of angels.” Theodore ably highlights the fragility of life and good health, something that translates in any language.

Tourvall II: Into the darkness

I’ve said before in doing reviews on short films that sometimes I’m amazed how filmmakers are able to create a fully developed plot in under ten minutes. At only seven minutes, at first I felt that Writer/Director Sean Skinner’s “Tourvall II: Into the Darkness” was taking too long to get to the point. After watching the entire piece, I came to the conclusion that there isn’t a point. But to the film’s credit, that didn’t make it any less entertaining.

We see Sven Skarnestad (Mick Karch) visiting former pro wrestler Tourvall “The Terrible” Johannsen (Joe Berglove) on his deathbed and reliving some of his past glory. The film aptly spoofs the crazy world of professional wrestling and the interjection of Jorge Gundersen (Edward Linder), an eager convalescent home employee, was an unexpected and amusing touch. (As Sven is sitting bedside, Jorge hands him a brochure and says, “Please take a moment to fill out the survey. We would love to your Yelp review. We’re also on the Twitter: #notjustaplacetodie.”) Silliness for sure, but what’s wrong with that?


Hearts Want’s premiere

Hearts Want‘s main TCFF premiere is today, Thursday 10/26 at 5pm (with red carpet interview at 4:30). There are a few tickets left for tonight, but act fast before they’re gone. Click on the banner below to get tickets.


Coming up tomorrow…

Two Minnesota-connected films are playing back-to-back tomorrow night… Twin Cities is actually produced by the director of Hearts Want, Jason P. Schumacher!

Stay tuned for interviews with writer/director of Twin Cities David Ash and one of the main actors of Ruin Me, Alex Galick.


The daily TCFF coverage continues… 


TCFF 2017 Day 4 – Two great film panels + Reviews of ‘Beauty Mark’ and MN-made drama ‘Cold November’

Saturday was a jam-packed day for me. I’m bummed that I missed the early Filmmaker Brunch as I wasn’t feeling well so I overslept (hey bloggers are humans too!), but my morning started with two great film panels, part of TCFF’s free Educational Programs!

The first panel was on Making, Distributing, Marketing & Watching: What’s the Impact of Digital? at 11:00am

Like many industries, the business of TV and Film distribution is certainly changing due to digital – whether you’re watching on your phone or tablet, dropping the cable package, making a web series or seeing a film online at the same time it’s in theaters…the landscape is shifting quickly.

I learned quite a few things from this very insightful panel… these are just small sampling:

  • Don’t create films in a vacuum
  • Make a beautiful film you believe in and passionate about, but also marketable
  • Marketing/PR is critical for film distribution even if your film is already on iTunes or some other platform, simply because most people don’t even know it’s there


The second panel is one I’ve been looking forward to as I’ve become a filmmaker myself this year…

Film Fatales in the Twin Cities

Members from the newest chapter of this global collective of female feature film directors discuss the power of collaboration in the fight for gender equality within the film industry. 

It’s so inspiring to learn from Lisa Blackstone, Melissa Butts, Norah Shapiro,Missy Whiteman, and moderator Melody Gilbert. Thank you for sharing your stories and experiences making films, and for inspiring aspiring filmmakers like me to keep on keeping on and not to give up on my dream of making my feature film one day!


Here’s my quick thoughts on the two films I saw on Day 4…

This is the kind of heart-wrenching films that’s hard to watch at times, but you’re glad you did. Inspired by true events, it’s a story of a poverty-stricken young mother forced to move out of her condemned house. Anchored by a harrowing, bravura performance by Auden Thornton, the film transports you into her painful reality of a life and forces you to wake up from your comfortable confines of your own.

The protagonist single mother Angie can’t seem to catch a break… taking care of her toddler son and alcoholic, overbearing mother with only sixty five dollars to her name. Slowly it’s revealed she has been abused as a child. As if that wasn’t tough enough, she realized he’s the only person with money she felt she could turn to.

Writer/director Harris Doran made you truly empathize with Angie despite some of her questionable decisions. It’s a truly gritty, upsetting and even haunting film that made you want to scream for the injustices the character suffers.

Spoiler alert (highlight to read) One thing I wish I didn’t see was the topless scene towards the end, given the topic against abuse and sexual objectification of women. Yes perhaps it’s a deliberate choice of the filmmaker, but I feel that there are SO many ways to show what the character does/show without actually showing it to the audience. It’d still be just as impactful IMHO because the character (and likely the actress playing her) has gone through so much in the film. That’s just my honest personal opinion anyways, others might feel differently about this.

In any case, it’s a well-made, phenomenally-acted piece that should be seen. I sure hope to see Aiden in more films as she’s definitely one of the best actresses I’ve seen in my years of covering TCFF.


It’s October, so Winter is definitely coming soon. No, I’m not looking forward to snow at all, especially during my commute. But watching this film makes me appreciate just how beautiful is the Minnesota Wintry landscape. The film centers on a midwestern matriarchy guiding 12-year-old Florence through the rite-of-passage of her first deer hunt.

Bijou Abas plays the young protagonist and this is her feature film debut. I learned that she was in an episode of In An Instant with Hearts Want’s lead actor Peter Hansen back in 2016. I thought she did a wonderful job giving a reserved but assured performance, where most of the time she has to communicate only with her facial expression.

I have to say being that I’m not into hunting at all (can’t even hurt a squirrel!), all I had to avert my eyes during all the deer skinning scenes. The scene of Florence all alone in the woods after she killed her first deer is also tough to watch for me. The rite-of-passage story is nicely-told, as well as the multi-generation familial connections. The story is supposedly told from Florence’s point of view, but I find the film’s lacking a sharp focus. Apart from her aunt Mia (Heidi Fellner), the supporting characters didn’t seem fully fleshed out. At 104 minutes, I also think the editing could’ve been much tighter.

Overall it’s a gorgeous film with a quiet grace. Filmed in Hibbing, Northern Minnesota, at times the film is so beautiful it could double as a Wintry skiing resort commercial. Kudos to writer/director Karl Jacobs (who also played uncle Craig) for creating a compelling MN family drama with a strong young woman that many girls can aspire to. At the Q&A afterwards, Bijou seemed really delighted to play the lead role and sounds like she, as well as everyone in the cast/crew, enjoyed making this, too!


What’s in store for Day 6

Boy, Monday is jam-packed with a ton of amazing films!! Four strong documentaries – ABU, Legends of the Road, Purple Dreams and She Started It. There’s also three feature films, Blue Balloons, Butterfly Caught and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

I’ll post my interview for the indie drama Butterfly Caught later this week!

So, stay tuned to more daily TCFF coverage!


TCFF 2017 Day 3 – ‘Hearts Want’ first screening in the ‘Ties That Bind Us’ short block and ‘A Gray State’ documentary

Day 3 of the Twin Cities Film Fest is actually quite a momentous one for me… If you know me well or have been following my blog and/or Facebook you might’ve guessed why.

I took the day off Friday because I knew it’s be quite an emotional day for me, showing my artistic baby, my passion project I’ve been working on the past year to the public for the first time. We had a private screening to the cast/crew and our close friends, but to actually seen it on the big screen in an actual theater is another thing entirely.

The moment the first scene came on screen, accompanied by the score… I went a bit verklempt, naturally. There weren’t many people in the theatre, which is typical for an early afternoon screening, but I’m so grateful to my friends, coworkers and even fellow bloggers who did come out and saw it… you know who you are, your support means a lot to me guys!

Hearts Want’s leading man Peter Christian Hansen attended the Friday screening

The Ties That Bind Us short block itself is chock full of wonderful relationship-themed films. Kudos to our short programmer Josh Dahlman and Angela Andrist for the awesome film selections! Of course I’m biased as to which is my favorite (hey you’re always going to think your baby is the cutest, right?) but I was truly impressed with all the films within this block: All That Was Broken, Head Above Water, Hearts Want, Heath Takes a Trip, Deadbeat, Resolutions, and Sundogs.

I really love Heath Takes a Trip, which is about a famous writer who suffers a breakdown and goes on a road trip with a stranger. It grabbed me right from the get go (which is quite a feat since it played right after my own film). It was emotional, funny, beautifully-shot, with a dreamy-like quality that has its own twist. It reminds me a bit of M Night Shyamalan’s Signs at times perhaps because of the corn fields, but also because it made you think one thing but it turns out to be another. I love Arch Harmon in the lead, as well as Ted James (who’s also the writer/director) as the rather whimsical stranger.

Resolutions is an intriguing, brutally-honest slice-of-life story of two couples that takes place over one New Year’s eve. It starts out like a low key celebration but as the evening progresses, something is revealed that turns things upside down for one of the four characters. It’s a simple setup that packs an emotional punch with the right amount of smolder and tension. The acting is brilliant, especially Nadine Malouf as Frankie. It’s got a female director, Tamara Fisch, who I hope will continue to make more films in the future!


Honestly, I don’t think I could really properly review a film such as A Gray State. I didn’t know much about the events surrounding the death of David Crowley, an Iraq vet who’s a charismatic aspiring filmmaker. I was going to read this New Yorker article by Alec Wilkinson before we see this documentary, but I decided I’ll read it after. A few people sitting near me know the subject of the film so naturally it’s so emotional watching the film as I could hear sniffles all around. Since the filmmaker was based in Minnesota, I’ve seen some of the actors who appeared in the trailer of the feature film he wanted to make, called Gray State. In fact I took a photo with the main actor in that trailer, Danny August Mason, when his short film Windage played at TCFF a few years back.

I went into the film pretty much blind, and the way filmmaker Erik Nelson set up the film, he played up the conspiracy theory aspect. I think it’s best that you find that out for yourself why that is, which is rather obvious given the subject matter of making a film called Gray State. The film is set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal government.

Erik Nelson is no stranger to doing a film about a grim subject matter, as he directed Grizzly Man. The film’s executive produced by Werner Herzog whom he frequently collaborated with. At the Q&A, Erik revealed that he combed through Crowley’s archive of 13,000 photographs, hundreds of hours of home video, and exhaustive behind-the-scenes footage of David’s work in progress. It’s a heart-wrenching look at what looks like an ordinary family tackling an extraordinary project… but something along the way, something went horribly wrong. What actually happened and what people want to believe is at the core of the film and the lines between them are inherently blurry. It’s pretty riveting, unsettling and emotional film, one that will linger for a long time after you saw it.

Q&A with Erik Nelson – conducted by TCFF managing director Bill Cooper

Fun at Industry Night!

It was a warm Autumn night with temps in the 70s. Great to catch up with friends and some visiting filmmakers during TCFF’s Industry Night.

Stay tuned for my recap of a jam-packed Day 4 starting with two insightful film panels and two features, Beauty Mark and Cold November, back to back.


What’s in store for Day 5


So, stay tuned to more daily TCFF coverage!


TCFF 2017 Interview: VICTOR’S LAST CLASS’ Director/Producer Brendan Brandt

One of the many intriguing documentaries playing at this year’s TCFF is Victor’s Last Class, documentary about an acting teacher getting ready to end his life, and a student who attempts to change his mind.

Our blog staff Laura Schaubschlager talked to producer/filmmaker Brendan Brandt on the journey to making his film, where along the course of the project became more than just a filmmaker asking why, but became a close friend trying to change his new friend and mentor’s mind.

1. How did you discover Victor and his blog (and, subsequently, his announcement of ending his life)?

I’m an actor in Los Angeles. I was at a cast party after having just closed a play. The host of the party was a little upset, and when I asked why, he told me that his friend Victor was getting ready to kill himself in two weeks, and he didn’t know what to do.
I was fascinated with the story and asked if Victor would be willing to meet me. I just wanted to talk to him. Before we met, I read all his blogs and got a sense of who he was. At some point right before we met I got the idea to document his story in some way. So I pitched him the documentary idea sort of on the fly.

2. Why were you compelled to make this documentary? How did you hope to challenge Victor’s decision through filming this?

“Why was I compelled” initially is tough to answer. I’m not great at psycho-analyzing myself so there may be some subconscious stuff going on that I’m unaware of. If I was forced to guess I would say I had never truly experienced a death at that point in my life (other than losing a grandpa and grandma). I hadn’t lost a close friend or parent, so I think I was perhaps a little curious about it. That was at first. Then after I met Victor, I bonded with him in a very intense way, and I was compelled to “save” him. I had a mission, to talk someone out of killing themselves. I think that’s how I saw it after awhile.I hoped to do it by asking him some super smart questions. I was on a righteous mission! It sounds incredibly naive and a little arrogant to me now, but I really thought I could get into the philosophy and logic behind the decision and perhaps find a flaw or crack. I was convinced there was a chance to unlock some previously undiscovered angle, and when we fully looked at it, we could come to a different conclusion.

3. Last year, Jojo Moyes’s book Me Before You, which deals with the issue of assisted suicide and ending one’s life due to lifelong medical struggles, was adapted into a major motion picture. Have you read the book or seen the movie, and if so, how did you feel about the depiction of this situation after going through it yourself?

Oh man, I was not aware of that book or film. I will check it out when I’m ready to have a good cry.

4. Victor stated in the documentary that he didn’t believe ending one’s life has to just be due to physical pain (he gives the example of someone losing a wife and child in an accident and not being able to go on), but didn’t feel knowledgeable enough to say it would extend to mental illness.

What do you think? How do you feel it extends (or doesn’t) to mental illness? Where do you think the limit is?

Great question. Let me preface this with I don’t have a clear, concrete answer. One of the main lessons I got from this experience was that life is less ‘black and white’ and more ‘grey’. So you have to take it on a case by case basis. We can do a better job of seeking help for mental pain, and we can do a better job of treating mental illness. I didn’t like Victor’s car accident analogy in the moment. That seemed like an injury that, while horrific, would slowly, at least partially, heal with time, and deciding to die before giving it a chance to partially heal would be unwise. Maybe after 10 years, with no improvement in mental health, still devastated and unable to cope, I would be more willing to accept that.

All that being said, mental pain is often worse than physical pain, and ultimately an individual should be in charge of their own life. So, if a mental health expert could determine that someone who is suffering extreme mental pain and wants to die is not “crazy”, I would probably accept that. The main point would be to make sure they talk about it with experts and loved ones, and that we would get a chance to really explore that decision.

5. After going through all of this with Victor, what advice do you have for anyone who has a friend or family member considering ending their lives due to chronic pain or illness? You state toward the end of the film that while you understand his reasoning more, you still don’t agree with his decision; how do you come to terms with those conflicting feelings?

My advice would be to make sure you listen to the person. I’m very grateful I got to have this experience with Victor. And he was grateful I gave him that experience because we got to really investigate every facet of that decision. It was good for both of us, and I think it’s a healthy process to go through. Tell the truth, listen, question, and seek to understand. Not to be nit-picky, but I said: “I still don’t know that I agree”. I think that’s an important distinction. It goes back to my ‘things are grey’ point. I can’t say what he did was right or wrong. I don’t want to say that. But I do want people to look at it and think about it, and maybe make up their own mind.

When I made that comment toward the end of the film, I was hurting. I thought I made a pretty strong case to continue on. It was a little selfish of me to be honest. He was making my life better, and I didn’t want that to stop. It’s taken time and a lot of reflection, and the conflicting feelings are still there, but basically, at this point, I understand and accept. Wish it wasn’t the case, but I accept. Dealing with the conflicting feelings was interesting. As I spoke with his friends after the fact and heard their takes on it, I found myself swinging back and forth, and that continued for a while until I arrived at ‘there is no right answer. It just is.’


FILMMAKERS’ BIOS:

Brendan Brandt (Director/Producer), is a Los Angeles based actor who has been working professionally for the last twelve years in theater, film, and television. He’s appeared in prime-time dramas for CBS, sitcoms for ABC, Comedy Central, and CMT, and films that have been distributed by Netflix, Amazon, and Directv. In addition, he has been in over twenty commercials as a principal actor. His book “Waiting Tables, Dodging Bullets: An Actor’s Guide to Surviving Los Angeles” was published in 2010. Although he’s worked in the industry for twelve years, this is his first time directing a film.

Arielle Amsalem is an Emmy Award winning editor of feature length documentary films. After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts film program, where she apprenticed under the editor Sam Pollard, Arielle started her career working on Spike Lee’s award winning documentary “When the Levees Broke” (2006), a film about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. She has since been the editor of many feature- length documentaries including the Edward Norton produced HBO documentary “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama” (2009) for which she won the Primetime Emmy for Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming. She worked as a Producer on Jennifer Fox’s 6-part documentary series “Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman”, which premiered at Sundance and aired on the Sundance channel. Additionally, she has consulted on the production and distribution of many of the documentaries which she has edited.


What’s in store for Day 4

Today we are screening lots of movies, there is something for everyone!

Victors Last Class, Instructions for Living, Ice House, Coyote, Cold November, Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, Bill Nye: The Science Guy, Beyond the Trek, Beauty Mark, and two blocks of short films (Age of Innocence – coming of age stories, and True Life Inspired– documentaries).


Stay tuned for my Day 3 & 4 recap tomorrow

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