TCFF Coverage: Preview Night of A Place At The Table

It’s becoming a tradition of sort that TCFF kicks off the film fest with a documentary about an important subject. Our first year we have the education-themed Waiting for Superman, the second year we screened Bully which tackles the topic of peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America. This year is no different, A Place At the Table, which takes a look at America’s hunger crisis. It debuted at Sundance under the name Finding North, and Magnolia Pictures has recently acquired the US rights to distribute the powerful documentary from Participant Media, directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush.

TCFF is more than just about films. Each year, executive director Jatin Setia looks for a relevant topic for the film fest to focus on, and he was adamant to showcase A Place At The Table when he saw it at Sundance. Thanks to his and fellow organizers’ persistence, we not only have the film premiere here, but also present an Education Panel discussing this ever-so-important topic. Moderated by MPR reporter Julie Siple, the panelists last evening includes Lori Kratchmer, executive director of the Emergency Food Shelf; Jackie Olafson, executive director of St. Louis Park Emergency Program; Rob Zeaski, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland; and last but definitely not least, Lori Silverbush, co-director of A Place at the Table.

To say it was an eye-opening discussion is putting it mildly. It’s interesting how when people hear the word ‘hunger’ they immediately think of malnourished kids with flies hovering around them in Africa. But the fact of the matter is, hunger strikes even here in America. The documentary shows that one in four children here in the US don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and the panelists expand a little bit what that means and what people might not know is contributing to that very problem.

“Fifty million Americans – that’s not a fringe, that’s not the screw-ups, that’s not the people you probably have in your head as the hungry people – 50 million Americans have to wonder, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, how they’re going to get food on the table for their families. And that’s energy they’re not devoting to their work, to parenting, to their communities. It’s a great drain.”  – Lori Silverbush (quote from MPR article by Julie Siple)

L to R: Julie Siple, Lori Silverbush, Jackie Olafson, Lori Kratchmer, Doug Peterson and Rob Zeaske

I’m very impressed with director Lori Silverbush, she’s very knowledgeable about her subject matter, and she’s got such strong convictions about what she thinks contributed to the problem in the first place and she’s not afraid to let it be known. It really shows in the film as well, it’s a well-crafted documentary that follows various families across America who are dealing with hunger, and also includes interviews from leading hunger experts such as Stuffed and Starved author Raj Patel, Sweet Charity? author Janet Poppendieck, actor Jeff Bridges, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio, as well as Congressman James McGovern who’ve taken a leadership role in the fight against hunger at home and abroad.

Silverbush shared that the problem of hunger carries such a great stigma, she saw as she made the film that people all often too ashamed to even go to the food shelter, and some families can’t even bear the thought of getting food stamps.

“One of our biggest surprises in making the film is that hardworking people, people who are playing by all the rules, and absolutely fulfilling their end of the social contract as most people would describe it, are still not able to get by,”

I will post the video of the panel as it becomes available, but I really urge you to see this documentary when it opens in your cities. This is easily one of the best documentaries I’ve seen, right up there with one of my favorite, The Cove in terms of entertainment + insight level. Even though it covers a bleak topic, it’s presented in such a way that it’s not at all tedious. Right from the opening sequence with gorgeous aerial shots, the cinematography is beautiful. The transitions from one family and another, alternating it with various interviews, are done seamlessly that it doesn’t feel jarring or jumpy.

Review from TCFF blogger Emery Thoresen:

Between the Education Panel before and the Director Q & A after the screening, the message was communicated; we need to change how our country deals with food – especially in the school systems. The word “politics” was repeated over and over, and if that is where the blame lies, it is our job to take the initiative and do our part; contact our representatives and vote in the right direction in this upcoming election.

The cause is noble, the issues are presented clearly, but there weren’t solid solutions given that would have sure results. The director did speak about what we should do in terms of politics, but she went on to discuss the issues with food charities. The major conglomerates that back many of the well known food organizations distribute their own food, which generally consist of empty calories. Its a self perpetuating situation; people are malnourished, they seek help, and the help that they receive provides in the most minimal way.

Aside from the shocking statistics and real life testimony, the most memorable part of the night was one of the directors, Lori Silverbush. Her partner in crime (Kristi Jacobson) was not present for the screening, but I can only imagine what the two women would be like in the same room. Lori was extremely eloquent and nothing that came out of her mouth was fluff. During the Education Panel and Questioning after the screening she answered all the questions without being redundant or spoiling the ending.

Documentary films are not my forte, but what I saw was worth it. Pretty scenery, good testimonies (Jeff Bridges is far from being the focal point), and clear presentation.


There are more great films playing at TCFF. Get your tickets now!


TCFF organizers Jatin Setia, Naomi Dahlgren and Bill Cooper with Lori Silverbush

Thank you Lori Silverbush for presenting such a well-crafted documentary that covers such a crucial topic, and TCFF’s Jatin Setia & co. for bringing this film to the premiere!!

Spotlight on five great documentaries – and they’re all playing at TCFF!

Woo hoo!!! Today is the day. 9 Days. 60 Films. 25 Events. From today all the way to next Saturday the 20th, this is the place to be for film lovers in the Upper Midwest!

Have you gotten your tickets yet? They are selling fast, in fact when I went to the SHOWPLACE ICON THEATRE in St. Louis Park, the seats are really picked over so don’t delay. You can buy them online but you still have to reserve your seats at the ticket booth.

I’ve blogged about some of the films I’m super excited about, but I wanted to talk about the documentaries specifically, as two years in a row TCFF has kicked off the film fest with a documentary, last year with the education-themed Waiting For Superman. Before I get to the list, check out the TCFF documentary promo, hosted by Minnesota-based filmmaker Joanna Kohler:

A Place At the Table – Friday, Oct 12 6pm

A Place At The Table is an important documentary every Americans should see. As the woman in the trailer says, hunger doesn’t just happen in Africa, but right in our neighborhood. It’s heartbreaking to hear that one in four children here in the US don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and this happens despite our country having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all its people.

The documentary features Jeff Bridges, who apparently is closely-connected to this subject matter as he’s the founder of the End Hunger Network. It also features celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, one of the judges on Bravo’s Top Chef who also happens to be co-director Lori Silverbush’s husband. Silverbush herself will be at the educational panel before the event.


Proceeds from this event will also benefit the Second Harvest Heartland, Food Emergency Shelf, and STEP (St. Louis Park Emergency Program).


American Autumn: An Occudoc – Thursday, Oct 18 2:45pm

It’s been over a year since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, and this provocative documentary chronicles the early days of this Occupy movement and how it’s gaining momentum.

The review from the NY Times says that “… [director] Dennis Trainor Jr. offers a concise review of the protests that first encamped in Zuccotti Park then swept across the nation and around the world.” Everyone sure has an opinion about the economic inequality problem in America, and this film offers an array of facts and figures on such subjects.

Narrated by Trainor, the documentary features speeches and interviews from filmmaker Michael Moore, Dr. Cornel West (Princeton University), comic/author/activist Lee Camp, journalists Nathan Schneider (Harper’s, The Nation) and Naomi Klein (The Nation) and more.


After I Pick the Fruit – Saturday, October 20 12:45pm

Another hot topic you’ve likely been hearing all over the news is immigration. Even though I’m an immigrant myself, this film is likely to resonate with me. Nancy Ghertner directs a film that follows the lives of five immigrant farm worker women over a ten-year period as they labor in the apple orchards and fields of rural western New York, migrate seasonally to Florida, raise their families, and try to hide from the Bush-era immigration raids that were conducted in response to September 11, 2001.

Filmed across the United States and Mexico, this intimate, bittersweet, feature-length film illuminates a community that is nearly invisible to most Americans, and will change the way you look at our national immigration problem.


Bay of All Saints – Saturday, Oct 20 10:45 am

The winner of Audience Award for Documentary at SXSW 2012, director Annie Eastman explored the lives of impoverished families living in palafitas, shacks built on stilts over the ocean bay in Bahia, Brazil. In an SXSW interview posted by Indiewire, Eastman shared that in college, she discovered Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art from the slave culture of Brazil, which somehow led her to make this film. She revealed that the story spans 7 years, 12 trips to Brazil and 20 weeks of editing.

Bay of All Saints is a lyrical portrait of three single-mothers living in the water slums during this crisis. Their individual stories of poverty unfold through visits from Norato, their big-hearted refrigerator repairman, born and raised in the palafitas. As these women rise to fight for their future, they begin to see the bay in a whole new light.



Call Me Kuchu –  Saturday, October 13 10:25 pm

Kato with the ‘Call Me Kuchu’ filmmakers

The term “Kuchu” is the word LGBT Ugandans use to refer to themselves, though some regards it as derogatory. US-based filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worral explores the struggles of the LGBT community in Uganda, as the government is working on a bill that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by life imprisonment, even death. It would even go as far as persecute those who fail to report known homosexuals to authorities.

The film features David Kato, a Ugandan teacher known as the country’s first openly gay man who fought against the homophobic laws, as well interviews with as other members of the LGBT community. It’s heartbreaking what happened to Kato, whose life came to a tragic end in January 2011 before the film even premiered. This is religious extremes at its worst… no matter what one’s view is about homosexuality, there is absolutely no justification for what the government is doing to their own people.

Call Me Kuchu has won several awards at various Film Festivals, including the Best International Feature Award at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.


Thoughts on any of these docs? Which one(s) caught your interest?

Counting Down to TCFF! The Films I Can’t Wait to See

TCFF is just four days away and I’ve finalized the movies I’ll be watching during the 9-day film fest. I’m just thrilled that there’s quite an eclectic lineup we’ve got this year, practically there’s something from every genre. I’ve blogged about some of them on this post, but below is my full schedule of what I’ll be watching.

Before we get to that though, here’s TCFF’s Preview Video with our hosts Amanda Day & Joe Kessler.

The perk of blogging for the film fest is that I could watch as many films as I could (yay!). Of course it’d still not be possible for me to see every single film, but heck I’m certainly going to try to see at least a dozen films or more if I could help it. This year, I’m also getting some blogging help from fellow Twin Citians (I actually never ever use that term before but seems kinda appropriate here, ahah): June from Girl Producer blog and Emery, a U of M Film Student and aspiring film reviewer. So expect to see TCFF movie reviews from all three of us starting this weekend.

So here are the list of films I can’t wait to see:


Full Film Schedule & Trailers at TCFF Official Site


Friday – October 12
A PLACE AT THE TABLE

This important documentary narrated by Jeff Bridges shines a light on the 30% of American families that don’t know where their next meal is coming from, there are plenty of other compelling docs playing at the film fest. I’ll be highlighting those later this week.


Saturday – October 13
IT’S A DISASTER

I like Julia Stiles, and I always think she should get more leading roles! Well, she’s got a starring role in this quirky apocalypse comedy, along with David Cross and America Ferrera.  Directed by actor/director Todd Berger (The Scenesters). Here’s a clip from the movie:


Sunday –  October 14
QUARTET

I just re-watched the trailer again and I’m even more excited about it now. Dustin Hoffman in his directorial debut has assembled quite a cast (Maggie Smith, Billy Connelly, Michael Gambon, etc.) in what looks like a delightful comedy about retired Opera singers. Sponsored by The Minnesota Opera.
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Monday –  October 15
FINDING HOME

This character-driven drama was shot in just 10 days in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Check out the promo for Minnesota films:


Tuesday – October 16
THE SESSIONS

Normally I wouldn’t think of someone being paralyzed from polio as being funny, yet somehow director Ben Lewin seems to have crafted a heartwarming comedy on that topic. The cast is a winner, I’ve always loved William H. Macy and he’s poised to be the scene-stealer here. John Hawkes is one of those instantly-likable actor, plus it’s been a while since I saw Helen Hunt in anything. Check out the trailer if you haven’t already.


Wednesday – October 17
NOBODY WALKS

I actually saw this trailer before I saw it on TCFF schedule, and I’m intrigued by the story. I’ve been hearing Olivia Thirlby‘s name being mentioned a lot lately as she starred in Dredd 3D, but this looks like a very different role for her. The cast includes John Krasinski and Rosemary DeWitt.



Thursday – October 18
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

I’ve mentioned in the lineup post that this film won Audience Award at TIFF. Well, this past week it just received another similar prize at Hamptons International Film Festival Awards. I’m normally not a Bradley Cooper fan but I’m prepared for him to change my mind. I do love Jennifer Lawrence and she’s perhaps poised to get another Oscar nom on this one.


Friday – October 19
NOT FADE AWAY

Feature film debut from the creator of The Sopranos David Chase. Set in suburban New Jersey the 1960s, a group of friends form a rock band and try to make it big. James Gandolfini also stars in the film.

A LATE QUARTET

This is one of those films you watch just for the cast. I mean, check this out, Christopher Walken AND Philip Seymour Hoffman, plus the excellent Catherine Keener in a string quartet where one of the member receives a life changing diagnosis which threatens the unity of the group. So there are TWO music-themed films with ‘quartet’ in the title that I’m looking forward to playing at TCFF! 🙂


Saturday – October 20
THE STORY OF LUKE

27 year-old Lou Taylor Pucci has got over two dozen films under his belt, yet I haven’t seen a single one yet. Well this will be the first then. He stars as a young man with autism who’s breaking free from the shelter of his grandparents and go on a quest for a job and true love. Also starring Seth Green and Cary Elwes.

….
LUMPY

We don’t get a lot of films being filmed here in Minnesota, so it’s always nice to see it when that happens. Directed by a Minnesota- born director Ted Koland in his first feature film. It stars Justin Long and Jessica Weixler in story about a pair of newlyweds who has to bring their best man Lumpy’s body back to Minnesota for burial and what happens as friends try to reconnect with people who were in the dead guy’s life.


October is going to be the best movie-watching month for me. If you live in the area, I hope you’ll make time to check out TCFF!

What do you think of these movies, folks, which one(s) interest you most?

TCFF Lineup is here! Check out what’s showing Oct 12-20

Wahoo!! After months of planning, negotiating, previewing, etc. the TCFF board and staff have finally revealed the full lineup of its third film fest! As did the previous two years, TCFF have become the regional premiere of a lot of this season’s most-anticipated films. Steve Snyder, TIME magazine’s assistant managing editor and TCFF’s scheduler, said it best in his tweet about the event:


In less than a month away, the Showplace Icon Theatre in St. Louis Park (definitely my favorite theater in time with its awesome seat-reservation feature) will be the place to be for movie lovers! So before I get to the movies, be sure to get your tickets beginning Wednesday (tickets are $10 for individual passes and $120 for multi-film and party passes).

Here are a sampling of the notable movies, as Minneapolis StarTribune critic Colin Covert have mentioned in today’s article:

Oct 14 – Dustin Hoffman‘s directorial debut Quartet, a character study of retired opera singers starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins. This one has a good potential to be noticed by the Academy, after all it’s by the Weinsteins and it doesn’t hurt that it’s written by Ronald Harwood (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Being Julia and The Pianist).

This just looks so delightful!! Harry Potter fans out there perhaps notice right away the reunion of Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, ahah! I always like lighthearted comedies starring senior seasoned actors and this certainly look like something I’d enjoy.

Oct 16The Sessions, an affecting comedy-drama inspired by the true story of a paralyzed polio survivor and the sexual surrogate who helped him lose his virginity in his late thirties. It stars Alexandria, Minn. native John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.

I have to admit the subject matter is a delicate one as it deals with disability AND sexuality, but I’ve got to admit the trailer looks quite heartwarming and sweet. Apparently the Australian director Ben Lewin, who himself lost the use of his legs to polio, seems to have direct this one with great humor and sensitivity.

Oct 18 Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro.

This is so exciting!! Just the other day I read that it won the coveted Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. That’s huge considering many previous Audience Award winners have gone on to win Oscar’s Best Picture, i.e. Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, and The King’s Speech [check out this THR article how other previous TIFF’s audience choice have fared at the Oscar]. Apparently the runner-up was Ben Affleck’s ARGO, which has scored early raves at several film festivals.

Lawrence is the main draw for me here, and interestingly enough, I was also impressed by her in Like Crazy which won Best Feature at TCFF last year. I also like seeing Julia Stiles among the cast, she also stars in It’s a Disaster with America Ferrara, premiering Oct. 13.

….

Oct 19 Not Fade Away, a rock ‘n’ roll coming of age tale set in 1964 New Jersey, the feature directing debut from David Chase, creator of HBO’s The Sopranos.

Opening & Closing Films

Oct 12 – As I’ve mentioned here, the program will open with the hunger documentary A Place at the Table featuring Jeff Bridges – A documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, it takes on the food issue from a new angle, shining a light on the 30% of American families—more than 49 million people—that don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Oct 20 – The festival will conclude with the comedy Lumpy, which was filmed in various Minnesota locations, starring Justin Long and Jess Weixler. The premise definitely has the recipe for an oddball comedy: The best man at Scott (Long) and Kristin’s (Weixler) Arizona destination wedding, Lumpy (Tyler Labine) is the life of the party, until a long, indulgent night leads to his untimely death. Forced to cancel their honeymoon and fly back to Minneapolis to arrange for his funeral, Scott and Kristin meet Ramsey (Timlin) and learn that Lumpy isn’t quite who they thought he was.

….

I’ll be blogging more about other movies that’ll be playing at TCFF, but below is the full lineup!

2012 FULL SCHEDULE

October 12    

8:30PM: A Place at the Table, directed by Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush, 86m

October 13

10:30AM: Call Me Kuchu, directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright & Malika Zouhali-Worrall, 87m

1:00PM: The Sapphires, directed by Wayne Blair, 99m

3:00PM: The Iran Job, directed by Till Schauder, 93m

5:00PM: The Eyes of Thailand, directed by Tim Vandersteeg, 65m

7:00PM: It’s a Disaster, directed by Todd Berger, 88m

9:00PM: Bro’, directed by Nick Parada, 89m

October 14

11:00AM: Crazy & Thief, directed by Cory McAbee, 52m

12:15PM: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, directed by Steven Spielberg, 115m

2:45PM: We Are Wisconsin, directed by Annie Eastman, 105m

5:15PM: Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, 97m

7:15PM: Stag, directed by Brett Heard, 83m

9:15PM: Dead Man’s Burden, directed by Jared Moshe, 93m

October 15  

7:00PM: Finding Home, directed by Chars Bonin, 90m

9:00PM: The “Lighter” Side (MN Shorts), Various MN Directors 100m

October 16

6:00PM: Best of MN: Festival Winners!, Various MN Directors, 60m

6:30PM: The Sessions, directed by Ben Lewin, 95m

8:30PM: The Rhymesayers European Tour, directed by Andrew Melby, 105m

October 17  

6:45PM: Dust Up, directed by Ward Roberts, 90m

7:00PM: Nobody Walks, directed by Ry Russo-Young, 83m

9:00PM: Opposite Blood, directed by Billy Xiong, 120m

October 18

2:45PM: American Autumn: An Occudoc, directed by Dennis Trainor Jr., 76m

4:45PM: Field Work: A Family Farm, directed by John Helde, 97m

6:30PM: Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell, 117m

6:45PM: Pincus, directed by David Fenster, 79m

8:45PM: Carlos Spills the Beans, directed by Brian McGuire, 90m

9:00PM: The “Darker” Side (MN Shorts), Various MN Directors, 110m

October 19  

2:15PM: Reportero, directed by Bernardo Ruiz, 71m

4:00PM: A Band Called Death, directed by Jeff Howlett & Mark Covino, 98m

6:00PM: Things I Don’t Understand, directed by David Spaltro, 111m

6:30PM: Not Fade Away, directed by David Chase, 117 min

8:30PM: A Late Quartet, directed by Yaron Zilberman, 105m

9:00PM: Problem Solving the Republic, directed by Elliot Diviney, 95m

October 20

11:00AM: Bay of All Saints, directed by Annie Eastman, 75m

11:30AM: Detropia, directed by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, 90m

12:45PM: After I Pick the Fruit, directed by Nancy Ghertnet & Cathleen Ashworth, 93m

1:45PM: Lies, Lust, Betrayal – and Cold-Blooded Murder (Indie Shorts), Various Directors, 81m

2:45PM: Take Care, directed by Scott Tanner Jones, 86m

3:45PM: Ready to Fly, directed by William Kerig, 96m

5:30PM: Dead Dad, directed by Ken J. Adachi, 81m

6:00PM: The Story of Luke, directed by Alonso Mayo, 95m

8:00PM: Lumpy, directed by Ted Koland, 91m


Well, what do you think of this year’s lineup? Which movie(s) here are you most excited about?

Everybody’s Chattin’… TCFF news + Blogathon Reminder

Happy Friday all! Aren’t you glad the weekend is almost here? It’s another slow weekend for movies, at least where I live. The only new one I’m interested in is The Master, but it hasn’t opened anywhere near me. Hopefully next weekend when it opens in wider release. So maybe we’ll opt for watching The Dark Knight Rises a second time 😀

Before I get to the links, I just want to give an update of the upcoming Twin Cities Film Fest coming to town next week!

Just yesterday, it’s been announced that TCFF will kick off with Magnolia Pictures A Place at the Table, a powerful documentary by co-directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush about the hunger crisis in America. Featuring Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio, with music by T Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars, the film debuted at this years Sundance Film Festival with the title Finding North.

If you live in the area, check out the TCFF web site on how you could take part in this event. 50% of proceeds from all hunger-related events to benefit local charities.

Stay tuned for the full line-up, I’ll definitely post it as soon as it becomes available!


Ok, now time for the link loves!

I wish I could attend TIFF again as my first experience in meeting my all time crush Gerry Butler was such a memorable one 🙂 But a few lucky people are attending, and I’ve been reading their reviews the past few days.
Apparently Terrence Malick’s movie To The Wonder that premiered at TIFF is not exactly um, wonderful.


I LOVE fashion and I LOVE movies, but for some reason I have not done a post that combine my two passions like Andina did here on The Romantics. Her blog certainly lives up to its name as I’m now inspired to do a similar post in the near future 🙂
Michael @ It Rains… You Get Wet blog has been sharing his own top 10 list on various genres in response to American Film Insitute (AFI)’s list. This time he sets his eye on his Top 10 Romantic Comedies.
There are many things to adore about Sati’s blog. One of my favorite series from Cinematic Corner is her ‘Appreciation’ posts as they’re full of gorgeous images of the actors in question, such as the two recent ones from the oh-so-hunky Idris Elba and the sublime Michelle Williams.
Dan @ Top 10 Films is no doubt the KING of all top 10 lists and this past week he looked at Top 10 1980s films that need a sequel.Now, I don’t agree with all of them but surely everyone has an opinion with the movies on his list. This one blu-ray certainly travels well. I’ve mentioned in this weekend roundup post that my pal Michael, aka Le0pard13 lent me his blu-ray of ROB ROY.Well, from my house, off it went to Dan @ Fogs Movie Review. Now check out his review AND convo with Michael as he starts his first ever Reader Recommendation series!


Last but not least, I want to remind everyone of the…

Small Roles… Big Performances blog-a-thon!

Based on the people responding in the comments section, so far we’ve got about two dozen bloggers who’ll be participating, yay! Please do invite others you think might be interested in taking part.

You can read the details by clicking the image above but just to reiterate once again, this blog-a-thon is intended to celebrate the under-appreciated actors, so preferably it’s NOT a brief performance/cameo of famous movie stars like Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts, even if their performance made a huge impression on you.

DEADLINE for submission: Friday, September 28. Please email me your link to rtmaramis@yahoo[dot]com.


That’s all folks. So what movie(s) are you planning to see this weekend?