FlixChatter Review – THE BOOKSELLERS documentary(2019)

Directed by: D.W. Young

Ruth asked me to cover The Booksellers because she knew I was a bookworm, and she’s not wrong. I majored in English because I love reading; the most memorable part of my first date with my boyfriend was browsing Mager’s and Quinn’s discount corner; and my regular visits to Winona aren’t complete without visiting Chapter 2 Books and scouring their densely packed shelves. But my love of books doesn’t compare with the sellers and collectors featured in this beautiful documentary.

The Booksellers is a documentary exploring New York’s book world, from the history and importance of its independent bookstores to a collection of passionate book collectors. The film discusses the practice of book selling and collecting, the future of the printed word, and how the changing times has affected the bookselling industry, and how there is still progress to be made.

Much of the documentary focuses on how technology-specifically, the internet-has affected booksellers. One collector noted that in the 50’s, there were 378 bookstores in NYC; as of the time this was filmed, there were 79. Before the rise of the internet, sellers would scour estate sales and church basement sales to find rare books for their stores. Once it became easier to find rare books online with decreased prices, independent booksellers suffered. Dwindling bookstores are leading to fewer book collectors, as used bookstores are often the introduction to budding enthusiasts. The fact that the world of bookselling hasn’t been particularly welcoming to women or people of color doesn’t help either; even today, only about 15% of independent booksellers are women, and while the number of people of color in the industry has increased, the field still isn’t very diverse.

That’s not to say the world of book collecting isn’t still very active. This documentary is full of people who are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about rare books, and it’s not just about collecting for the sake of collection. One comment that particularly struck me was that “books are not trophies;” people who collect rare books differ from people who collect art because they usually have a deeply personal connection to the books they buy, whereas art collectors are often more in it as a display of wealth. To view a piece of expensive art someone has feels more like a statement that they have it and no one else does, whereas viewing a rare book in a collection feels like an invitation into the collector’s world.

The documentary itself is a little scattered and unstructured, especially for its over an hour and a half length, and it can feel a little dry in some parts, but it’s still clearly a labor of love. The Booksellers will make you want to run out to your nearest used bookstore (once it’s safe to go out again) and spend a few hours browsing the comfortable, dusty shelves to find something that speaks to you.

laura_review


Have you seen THE BOOKSELLERS? Let us know what you think!

TCFF19 Reviews: The Chunta Documentary + Features: The Education of a Negro + Up There

It’s the day before last of TCFF! Whew!! What an amazing 10 days it’s been celebrating Twin Cities Film Fest’s 10th Anniversary!! But as I mentioned in this post, we still have plenty of great films to watch tonight and tomorrow!

One of them is The Chunta, which premieres Saturday at 2:40 PM.


The Chunta

The Chunta is a colorful documentary following the lives of several men (and a couple women) leading up to the celebration of the Fiesta Grande in Chicapa de Corzo, a small town in Mexico. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fiesta Grande, but one of the long-standing traditions is for men dress up as women. Most men who participate are parts of “gangs” (although “club” would probably be the most accurate term for an American audience) that work on costumes and do their makeup together. In recent years, one gang has raised the hackles of more traditional gangs because of their LGBTQ inclusivity and their modern take on costumes and makeup.

This is the group that the documentary revolves around. They are led by the tough and somehow also adorable “Auntie They”. Auntie They is part chef, part costume designer, part cheerleader, part mom, part bodyguard, and all love. The audience is swept along on the journey of this little gang as they cut paper and fabric, try on pieces of their costumes, eat, go on interviews, talk about their identities and previous celebrations, and finally get ready for and attend the Fiesta Grande.

There were several points in this documentary when I really wanted a narrator (maybe Auntie They, maybe just a disembodied voice) to offer more context about the festival and the Chunta in general. In some ways, forcing the viewer to play catch up through context clues was great, as it solidified the movie’s message that as the times change, so too do our traditions. But it also leaves the audience struggling to figure out what the Fiesta Grande is, what the Chunta are, and how pervasive the intermingling of LGBTQ identities and the Chunta tradition is.

Ultimately, The Chunta is trying to create conversations about the intersection of cultural traditions and modern ideologies. One of my favorite moments in the film is when a man from the LGBTQ gang tries to explain the cognitive dissonance inherent in the groups who see the Chunta tradition as a paragon of masculinity. Their inability to call the tradition cross-dressing is so confusing that the man can’t help but stumble over his words as he tries to explain their stance.

The example in The Chunta is almost farcical, but a critical viewer will hopefully realize that this cognitive dissonance is present in our own cultures and traditions as well. What are our blind spots? At what moments in our own lives have we metaphorically been that man wearing a full face of makeup and a beautiful dress, complaining about the extra bling in new costumes and the “wrong” kind of people participating in our beloved traditions?

This documentary will leave you with a lot to discuss, but it is also a thing of beauty. The costumes are amazing and the footage of the festival is breathtaking. As the festivities of Fiesta Grade escalate, men and women become indiscernible as everyone whirls down the street and into the church dressed as the Chunta. It is a visual treat.

Check out the movie and then find me at the film festival or on the internet and let me know what you thought about the tradition, the culture, and the men and women represented in the film. Bonus points if the movie helps you come to any conclusions about the LGBTQ community and the traditions that you love.

PS:  I do suggest a little primer before watching the movie. There is a helpful guide on the film’s website that provides some very helpful historical and cultural context. 

– Review by Holly Peterson

TCFF screening of The Chunta
Saturday, October 26th 2:40 PM


The Education of a Negro

The Education of a Negro is a must see. It is the first film from Ryan Culver who also wrote the story and served as produced. He was heavily inspired by the shooting of Pillando Castile and a 2006 study done by the FBI on the Klan’s infiltration into our police system. Culver doesn’t have a background in film and has said he felt called to create a film after the 2017 not guilty verdict in the Castile case.

This film focuses on Kenny, the head of a successful tech startup. He is living his best life in the Twin Cities with his beautiful, intelligent lawyer girlfriend J.J. All is well until one night, his brother Kirk is killed by the police under suspicious circumstances. 14 months later the cop responsible for Kirk’s death is acquitted. Kenny tries to move on, but when he learns the truth about the trial he is dragged into a world he knows nothing about and must confront his fear. Kenny and J.J. must go to great lengths in order to get justice for Kirk as his killer so go terrifying extremes to cover up the truth.

Kendrix Lamaz Brown (Kenny) and Mikkel Simons (Mary)

I liked this film for a handful of reasons. Firstly, it juxtaposes historical police violence against the events that take place in the film making it clear this although this is an interpretation, these events and experiences are true to life. It makes it clear this is not a new issue as some like to believe but rather, an ongoing issue rooted in racism and slavery. In between scenes of our narrative are short clips highlighting  people who have been lost to police violence in the 60s. It shows individuals being shot by a mocking, masked figure making the viewer take a moment and acknowledge the horrible violence that persists in our country.

Kenny (Kendrix Brown) and his wife J.J. (Alisa Murray)

I also really liked the way they portray Kenny’s relationships. Too often in Hollywood, African Americans are portrayed as one sided stereotypes, such as a mystic, a thug, a token best friend, the brash woman and domestic. This film gives us two loving and successful individuals who support and elevate one another. Kenny and J.J. are played by emerging talents, Kendrix Lamaz Brown and Alisa Murray. Their chemistry is really good and brings a lovely, well-developed relationship to life. The depth they give each character while they are grieving is truly amazing. And after, when they team up in pursuit of the truth, it’s really powerful.

I also really like the relationship Kenny has with his brother. They have real conversations and are supportive of one another. The pictures and stories Kenny shares with J.J. makes it feel so real and believable. It shouldn’t be, but this often not seen in Hollywood.  Too often brothers and families are pitted against one another and it was refreshing to see real people.

– Review by Jessie Zumeta


Up there is a charming indie drama co-directed by comedians Daniel Weingarten and Michael Blaustein. The lead actress Zoe Kanters also co-wrote the script and is inspired by real life events. This film focuses on a  journalist struggling to find fulfillment as he searches for “the story” that will launch his career.  He is given an assignment in a small mining town.

Daniel Weingarten + Zoe Kanters

Initially, I found the film difficult to watch . It’s a story we’ve seen so many times. A city slicker goes to a small town where they are unwelcome until they befriend an eccentric local. This was not helped by Weingarten’s acting which seemed a bit forced, keeling between overacting and flat delivery. Likewise, his character Jack  had a very unconvincing story arch which left the ending to be unbelievable. Jack never seems sincere enough to elicit the forgiveness we as the audience are supposed to want for him.

On the other hand, Zoe Kanters does truly wonderful job portraying Emma, a happy go lucky local with a haunted past. Emma’s exuberance is mirrored by Blaustein’s performance as Emma’s excessively protective and overbearing older brother Champ.

It is these two performances that carry the film. The dynamic they create of two siblings living in the aftermath of family trauma is strong enough to carry the film, past the tropes, slow pacing and minor tech issues.

In the end I thought this film was a really beautiful illumination of rural America and a deeply moving look at a person coping with trauma, loss and mental illness. If you like touching indie dramedies, this is the film for you!


Stay tuned for more TCFF reviews and interviews!

 

 

2019 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST – What to see the rest of TCFF

We’ve past the halfway point of the film fest… but we still have three full days filled with GREAT films! S0 here are the Daily Schedule for the rest of the film fest, but before that, here’s a fun recap video from yesterday:


Thursday, October 24

12:15p.m.: Science Fair, Cristina Costantini & Darren Foster

Nine high school students from disparate corners of the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks, and hormones on their quest to win the international science fair. Only one can be named “Best in Fair.”

12:30p.m.: Wade in the Water, Mark Wilson

Our man receives a mis-delivered package that tears open old wounds sending him down a dark path that will change his life forever.

 

2:45p.m.: The Truth About Marriage, Roger Nygaard

Why is marriage so difficult? Filmmaker Roger Nygard (TREKKIES) seeks to answer that question as he follows three unusual couples, who were filmed at their weddings, then many years later to see what happened after the honeymoon stage.

This is the second screening of the doc, read our review.

5:00p.m.: The Short History of the Long Road, Ani Simon-Kennedy

When tragedy strikes, teenage Nola must confront the reality of life on the road alone, learning to own her grief, her past and her new destination.

5:30p.m.: Gay Chorus Deep South, David Charles Rodrigues

In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South.

7:25p.m.: Leona, Isaac Cherem

“Leona” is an intimate, insightful, and moving film that tells the story of a young Jewish woman from Mexico City who finds herself torn between her family and her forbidden love. Ripe with all the drama and interpersonal conflicts of a Jane Austen novel, watching her negotiate the labyrinth of familial pressure, religious precedent, and her own burgeoning sentiment is both painful and beautiful there are no easy choices to be made and the viewer travels back and forth with her as she struggles with her heart to take the best path.

8:00p.m.: Motherless Brooklyn, Edward Norton

Ed Norton’s directing debut. Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, Motherless Brooklyn follows Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna.

Motherless Brooklyn

9:45p.m.: Fireflies, Pranjal Deka

Fireflies’ is the story of resilience of Jahnu’s jounery to being Jahnavi, a transwoman, standing against the tide to be herself in a remote village in Assam of India.


Friday, October 25

12:15p.m.: Nighthawks, Grant S. Johnson

Wide-eyed Midwest transplant Stan (Chace Crawford) agrees to play wingman to his calculating and privileged roommate Chad (Kevin Zegers) as they embark upon an exploration of glittering New York nightlife, whose darkest secrets are held captive by an elite band of millennials known as Nighthawks.

5:00p.m.: CRSHD, Emily Cohn

End-of-the-year celebrations are underway at a small liberal arts college in Ohio. The night’s main event? A CRUSH PARTY. The rules? Submit your crush and they get an invite.

5:10p.m.: Amplify Her, Nicole Sorochan & Ian MacKenzie

Amplify Her explores the rise of female artists against the backdrop of the global electronic music festival scene from Burning Man (Nevada) to Rainbow Serpent (Australia). Imagined and brought to life by more than 21 female creators across North America, this lush and visually dynamic world blurs the line between fiction and reality while demonstrating the power of letting women tell their own stories.

7:10p.m.: Raising Buchanan, Bruce Dellis

In suburban Phoenix, 40-year-old Ruth Kiesling is not exactly living the dream. She’s a donut shop employee with anger issues. Ever the opportunist and desperate for money, she “steals” the body of President James Buchanan hoping to ransom him for a nice windfall but she’s surprised to discover that no one seems particularly interested in getting him back.

7:30p.m.: Olympic Dreams, Jeremy Teicher

In the highly exclusive Athlete Village at the Olympic Winter Games, Penelope (Alexi Pappas, “Tracktown”), a young cross-country skier, befriends Ezra (Nick Kroll, “The League,” “Kroll Show,” “I Love You, Man”), a volunteer dentist, after a disappointing finish in her competition. Penelope and Ezra share a special but limited time together.

9:30p.m.: Blind, Marcel Walz

Faye (Sarah French), a former actress that lost her vision due to botched laser eye, struggles to put her life back together while living alone in her dream house in the Hollywood Hills. Supported by her friend Sophia (Caroline Williams), she starts opening up to Luke (Tyler Gallant), a personal trainer who is mute and can only communicate through his cell phone. When a masked stranger named “Pretty Boy” (Jed Rowen) shows up, Faye will realize that she isn`t as alone as she thinks.

9:45p.m.: In Fabric, Peter Strickland


Saturday, October 26

9:40a.m.: Mary Jane: The Woman of Weed, Windy Borman

MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED follows female ‘ganjapreneurs’, who we call Puffragettes (as in Pot + Suffragette), as they navigate the highs and lows of the legal US cannabis industry.

10:00a.m.: Netizens, Cynthia Lowen

After their lives are overturned by vicious online harassment, three women seek justice from the internet.

11:50a.m.: We Are Gathered Here, Joanna Bowzer

When groom-to-be Ben’s wild ex-girlfriend Jules bursts into his home to declare her love for him on the eve of his wedding to Lisa, Ben is suddenly faced with a decision he didn’t realize he had to make. What appears to be an easy choice on the surface is anything but, as Ben grapples with the fact that this night will determine the course of his life.

12:30p.m.: Speed of Life, Liz Manashil

In 2016, June and Edward are in the midst of an argument when Edward suddenly falls into a wormhole created by David Bowie’s death. In 2040, June continues to mourn the loss of Edward while facing the dark reality of being locked away along with the rest of society’s senior citizens. Unwilling to disappear, June begins to plan her escape when Edward suddenly reappears in her life.

2:00p.m.: Well Groomed, Rebecca Stern

WELL GROOMED travels a year in the humorous and visually stunning world of competitive creative dog grooming alongside the women transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures. Check out our review.

2:40p.m.: The Chunta, Genevieve Roudané

In a small town in Mexico, once a year, men transform into women and become the Chuntá. Follow two gender-bending gangs of dancers as they face off in a struggle between queer identity and powerful traditions.

4:15p.m.: Waves, Trey Edwards Shults

Two young couples navigate through the emotional minefield of growing up and falling in love.

4:30p.m.: Saint Frances, Alex Thompson

After her decision to end an unwanted pregnancy, 34-year-old Bridget reluctantly agrees to nanny the bright and rambunctious Frances, forming an unexpected bond with her and her parents.

7:00p.m.: Premature, Rashaad Ernesto Green

On a summer night in Harlem during her last months at home before starting college, 17-year-old poet Ayanna (Zora Howard) meets Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a charming music producer who has just moved to the city. It’s not long before these two artistic souls are drawn together in a passionate summer romance. But as the highs of young love give way to jealousy, suspicion, and all-too-real consequences, Ayanna must confront the complexities of the adult world whether she is ready or not. Emotionally raw, intimate, and honest, “Premature” is at once timeless and bracingly contemporary in its portrait of a young woman navigating the difficult choices that can shape a life.

7:15p.m.: The Kill Team, Dan Krauss

A young American soldier in Afghanistan is disturbed by his commanding officer’s behavior and is faced with a moral dilemma.

9:25p.m.: Swallow, Carlo Mirabella-Davis

Hunter (Haley Bennett) is a newly pregnant woman, living an idyllic, stay-at-home life with her picture-perfect husband (Austin Stowell). But when she finds herself compelled to eat a small marble, she is catapulted down the path of a new obsession for consuming dangerous objects that threatens her seemingly have-it-all life. Her husband and his mother (Elizabeth Marvel) notice the change, and begin to tighten their control over Hunter, forcing her to confront the dark secret behind her strange compulsion.

A unique and unpredictable journey from Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow” is a compelling blend of domestic thriller, medical mystery, and satire. It plays as a warped fairy tale that uses its style and tension to pose real questions about women’s bodies, guilt, repression, and agency.


Download 2019 TCFF Schedule Grid


FREE EDUCATIONAL EVENTS!!

How many film festival offers FREE educational events!! Well TCFF does, and there are also a variety of fantastic panels featuring acclaimed filmmakers!

Saturday, October 26th, 1-2pm “HER” Panel – Unique Voice of Women Filmmaker

Every year more and more women enter the film industry and stand up to have their voices heard. Come hear from the local filmmakers who are changing the game for themselves and all women in film.


Saturday, October 26th, 3-4pm   FROM THE TRENCHES – Minnesota Film Ecosystem from Below-the-Line

Our local crew members work tirelessly to make our films into reality. Come hear from our MN-based crew members as they discuss the current landscape of filmmaking in Minnesota and present a positive and constructive way forward towards industry growth.


TCFF19: DAY 3+4 Reviews: Greywood’s Plot + Documentaries: The Truth About Marriage & Salvage

It’s already Day 4 at TCFF! Well, time sure flies when you’re having fun! Here’s a video recap from Saturday, courtesy of TCFF’s awesome media producers Ellie Drews & Kirstie House:


Greywood’s Plot

Greywood’s Plot, directed by MN-based director Josh Stifter (whom Ruth interviewed for his film The Good Exorcist), is a fantastically fun and funky horror comedy. Shot in black and black and white, it’s a throwback to old late night comedy shows.

The movie follows two lifelong friends who receive a mysterious VHS tape containing some footage of a vampire-type animal. They decide to go on and adventure into the woods to investigate the validity of the tape and in the process hope to make a documentary about it. The journey becomes much more than they expected as the terrifying truth is uncovered.

This full-length horror-comedy film made almost entirely by Stifter and his friends. It also stars his longtime collaborator Daniel Degnan who was in The Good Exorcist. Josh along with directing, also served as the co-writer and producer, while Nathan Strauss was the assistant director, executive producer and special effects artist and Keith Radichel rounded out the team as the films antagonist. Shot in Detroit lakes in a friend’s family’s small hunting shack the film is 100% Minnesota made. Even the extras were residents of Detroit lakes, serving as tree zombies.

Josh has been in the movie business for years, working with both Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez. He has a background in special effects which I think adds to the really playful and imaginative kind of horror comedy he makes. I also really appreciate the way he incorporated the surrounding woods and fields of Detroit Lakes. It would have been easy enough to keep the film contained in the shack but by expanding the films location it creates a much more immersive environment.

– Review by Jessie Zumeta


The Truth About Marriage (Documentary)

This documentary by filmmaker Roger Nygard (“Trekkies”) follows three not-so-ordinary couples to see how things turned out several years after the honeymoon. The film presents challenging ideas about relationships, as it answers the question: Why is marriage so hard for people?

Engaging and entertaining examination by veteran documentary filmmaker, Roger Nygard, into the complicated subject of marriage. As the saying goes, everyone’s got an opinion! And they are insightful and, sometimes, humorous. I liked the fact that there was a mix of a vast variety of “experts,” along with a variety of real life couples—some that were in untraditional arrangements. It’s another great film by him that’s a fantastic conversation starter. The film examines the history of marriage, how it’s evolved, and what we expect from it now. In the end, it’s up to us to decide: what is it’s purpose?

– Review by Kelly Lamplear-Dash

A feature-length documentary about the city dump in Yellowknife, Canada. In Yellowknife, the remote capitol of the Northwest Territories, the town dump is the city’s most popular and notorious manmade attraction, mined by a colorful community of thrifty locals. But the new city administration is determined to see it tamed, and the battle for Yellowknife’s identity is on.

An “A” for effort. This film is a unique peek into the salvage subculture of a small town in Yellowknife, Canada, which has a history of mining. There was great use of historical footage and stills. I would have like to seen more. There was an interesting cast of characters; however, maybe too many.

I am interested in the themes of re-use, re-purpose, recycling, minimum waste, environmental impact, and dumpster diving for food. It also touched on the issues of community interest versus politics coupled with the ever-increasing issue of gentrification. This film was trying to do a lot, but could have been cut back a little. Maybe even been a short. I really did appreciate it.


Stay tuned for more TCFF reviews and interviews!

 

 

2019 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST features WOMEN series + ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY films

It’s one of the most wonderful time of the year!! For film fans like me, for the past 10 years TCFF has brought so much joy and excitement since its inception in 2009! I still can’t believe it’s been ten years since it all began, I guess time flies when you’re having fun, and I’m so honored and privileged to have been a tiny part of it from the start.

There are many things to love about TCFF, as I have blogged about here, and one of them is that they champion issues important to me. TCFF 2019 marks its 10th anniversary with a special focus on both female filmmakers and films that advance this year’s social justice cause: environmental sustainability.

Celebrating Women at the 2019 TCFF!

About Women. For Women. By Women.

Check out the HER series category on TCFF website… more than 60 percent of 2019 program are driven by female filmmakers. There are documentaries exploring the world of plus size models (A Perfect 14) and the rise of female artists against the backdrop of the global electronic music festival scene (Amplify Her), a thriller about three women seek justice from the internet (Netizens), there’s something for everyone highlighting female storytelling.

All of these are so intriguing to me … I love films that gives me new insights and take me to a place (physically and metaphorically) I’ve never been before.

AMPLIFY HER looks especially intriguing to me as it combines animation and film, and it explores real female musicians in a genre I’m not familiar with: electronic dance music. The film explores how these artists navigate the challenges of the music world and find their own unique voices.

 

Of course as a newbie filmmaker, I definitely want to see Seeing is Believing: Women Direct, where four diverse women share the story of how they became directors, what motivates them, how they lead, and how they overcome obstacles to create the most optimal working environment and work that makes a difference.


Speaking of female filmmakers, I’m happy to announce that the historical drama short I helped produce last year, MASTER SERVANT, will be part of the 2019 lineup!

Master Servant tells the story of an ambitious, young railroad executive comes face to face with his own moral decay in his blind pursuit of wealth and status among the Social Elite.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Julie Koehnen, the writer/director of Master Servant, for inviting me to be a part of the journey in bringing the short film to life. We shot the film at the historic James J. Hill house in St. Paul, which is fitting given the story was inspired by true events of the Gilded Age and the Industrial Revolution. It’s such an honor to have its premiere at TCFF once again, just like my previous short Hearts Want back in 2017. Check out a clip from the film:


One of TCFF 2019’s spotlight films is also by a female filmmaker, Alma Har’el, who’ll be attending the screening on Monday, Oct. 21st. From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue) brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health. Fictionalizing his ascent to stardom, and subsequent crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) and Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea) as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon.

 

And here are four more films by female directors to check out:

 


Changemaker Films at the 2019 TCFF!

This year’s social justice cause is absolutely important and oh-so-timely: environmental sustainability. There’s a variety of films that promise to entertain and inspire us to care about the earth we live in… Food Coop tells the story of a historic coop supermarket that booms in the middle of an economic crisis, and Salvage explores a city dump in Yellowknife, Canada, while Juice: How Electricity Explains The World highlights how darkness kills human potential and electricity nourishes it.

There’s always something new to learn about our mother earth, and with climate change being one of the most important issue of our lifetime, these films will sure have some teachable moments in an entertaining way.

Youth Unstoppable certainly brings to mind 16-year-old Swedish climate change warrior Greta Thurnberg. It proves that one is never too young to fight for something one believes in. Its director, Slater Jewell-Kemker, can also be described as a climate change warrior herself. She was just 15 when she began documenting the untold stories of youth on the front lines of climate change.

Now, Sustainable Nation tells the story of three innovators who are taking valuable lessons learned from Israel’s water shortage to the rest of the world. Humans have lived without electricity before, but nobody in the world could ever live without water. We live in an increasingly thirsty planet where water is getting more and more scarce, so I’m definitely intrigued by this film.


Download 2019 TCFF Schedule Grid


TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE!

To buy tickets, learn more about TCFF, events, or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org

Ticket prices are $13 for General Admission & $20 for Spotlight Films. Festival Passes can also be purchased as follows: Silver Pass – $55 (5 pack of non-Gala tickets); Gold Pass – $90 (10 pack of non-Gala tickets); Platinum Pass – $130 (12 pack of non-Gala tickets + 2 Gala tickets); Spotlight Pass – $100 (6 tickets to any Spotlight Film).

The passes are such an incredible deal!! Get it soon so you can order your tickets right away. Trust me, it’s SO worth it!!

PLUS… All tickets guarantee admission to that evening’s afterparty in the TCFF Lounge located onsite at The Shops at West End.


Stay tuned for an awesome list of studio and indie films playing at TCFF!

The 8 Twin Cities Film Fest tickets to get – recommendations from our Artistic Director Steve Snyder

It’s now just a week away until Twin Cities Film Fest starts on Wednesday Oct. 18 – Saturday Oct 28. I’ve mentioned some of the studio/MN feature films as well as documentaries you shouldn’t miss.

Now, there are some films you’re probably already excited about that you’ve gotten tickets to. But there are those which are some best we have to offer that for whatever reason just haven’t gotten as much attention. Well, thanks to TCFF artistic director and lead programmer Steve Snyder, we have some recommendations on films you definitely should check out.


Click on each title that’ll take you to its respective page on TCFF site.
Tickets are selling fast, so don’t delay.


The Fall season is always a romantic time of year… and the first two films are romantic comedies…

The Year of Spectacular Men

Screening Wednesday October 18th – 8:15 PM
Lea Thompson, MN native and star of Back to the Future and Caroline in the City, makes her directorial debut with this critically-acclaimed comedy from the LA Film Festival. Starring Zoe Deutch of Why Him and Vampire Academy. Both are coming to Minneapolis in person – and your ticket gets you into the opening party. About two smart and sassy sisters and their crazy romantic misadventures.

We don’t have a trailer yet but here’s a clip from the film:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Screening Saturday, Oct. 28

Hilarious new adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, set in modern-day Los Angeles. Starring an awesome mix of actors who veer from sweet to silly. It stars Rachael Leigh Cook who will be appearing in person, and receiving the TCFF North Star Award. Your ticket also gets you into the epic closing night party.

 
Best Actor Watch
Breathe
Screening Wednesday, Oct. 18 
Andrew Garfield has quickly become one of the top actors of his generation. He now stars in the new biopic that’s on this year’s Oscar watch list – Breathe, an inspiring story about a man who fought for the rights of the disabled. Garfield plays Robin Cavendish, a man who became paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 28 but who spent the rest of his life becoming a pioneering advocate for the disabled.

*Editor’s note: this film is also the directorial debut of motion capture expert Andy Serkis, known for playing Golum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy
True MN story 
Screenings:
Friday October 20th – 7:20 PM & Saturday October 21st – 2:10 PM
A critically-acclaimed documentary about a true Minnesota tragedy that has become a hit on the film festival circuit, and moved executive producer Werner Herzog to help it get released. It’s the haunting story of local Minnesota filmmaker David Crowley, who in 2010 started working on a film about the government crushing civil liberties. When he and his wife and their children were found dead in their home in 2014, conspiracy theorists went wild with government assassination theories. We will have the filmmaker, and some of Crowley’s family, in attendance. And will host the world premiere of a special “director’s cut” of the film.
Indie Surprise of the Year
Screening:
Friday October 20th – 5:30 PM, Friday October 27th – 12:45 
If you’re looking for one of this year’s true indie discoveries, here’s the surprise you’ll keep talking about: Tater Tot & Patton an incredibly moving and heartfelt family drama shot in South Dakota about a city girl and her rancher uncle – two people who don’t really get along but who bond over one summer as they mourn his dead wife, and her dead aunt. It’s a film that brings you into their world and their life.

Taut Thriller
The Midnighters
Screenings:
Friday October 20th – 9:45 PM, Thursday October 26th – 1:15pm 
A creepy, scary and exhilarating thriller that was a hit at film festivals in Los Angeles…it’s about a couple who accidentally hit a man with their car – and then throw him in the backseat when they flee the scene to avoid the consequences. They chose poorly.

Western / Thriller w/ a great cast 
Screening Wednesday, Oct. 25 

Bill Pullman, Jim Caviezel and Peter Fonda star in this moody, dark Western about a cowboy who sets out on a sprawling, dangerous journey across the countryside to avenge his longtime partner’s brutal murder. It’s the most interesting new Western realized by Hollywood in years.
Family Pick!
Screening Sunday October 22nd – 12:00 PM 
One of the most interesting titles in our first-ever Family Fest – a touching tale about a young girl who leaves a lasting mark on a broken family, bringing healing to their hearts and music to their world. It stars Broadway and Hollywood legend Constance Towers, and is a true gem for families who want to be part of this year’s festival.

One film I choose to champion today is the documentary SHE STARTED IT

She Started It is an award-winning documentary that provides a rare look in the lives of five ambitious young women entrepreneurs (Thuy, Stacey, Sheena, Brienne and Agathe) who will stop at nothing to pursue their startup dreams.


Check out the full lineup schedule on TCFF official site


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

Spotlight on 10 great documentaries playing at 2017 TCFF!

It’s that time of the year again, folks! Less than two weeks until the 11-day film festivities and cinematic marathon begins. Yep, the 8th annual Twin Cities Film Fest begins starts on Wednesday Oct. 18 – Saturday Oct 28.

I’ve mentioned some of the studio and MN feature films screening at TCFF that I’m excited about, but here I wanted to focus about documentaries specifically. Year after year TCFF has always featured great documentaries that are both insightful and entertaining. Before I get to the list, check out the TCFF documentary promo:


Have you gotten your tickets yet?
They are selling fast, so don’t delay.

Click on each documentary title that’ll take you to its respective page on TCFF site.


Kudos once again to the programming team at TCFF for selecting such a varied list of films that covers so many different genres and topics! Whether it’s a murder mystery, inspirational tales, personal struggles, sports or timely human stories seeking refuge, there’s truly something insightful and illuminating for everyone here.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

A Gray State — Director’s Cut

  • Saturday October 21st – 2:10 PM

Director/Producer: Erik Nelson
Executive Producer: Werner Herzog

In 2010 David Crowley, an Iraq veteran, aspiring filmmaker and charismatic up-and-coming voice in fringe politics, began production on his film “Gray State.” Set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal government, the film’s crowdfunded trailer was enthusiastically received by the burgeoning online community of libertarians, Tea Party activists as well as members of the nascent alt-right. In January of 2015, Crowley was found dead with his family in their suburban Minnesota home. Their shocking deaths quickly become a cause célèbre for conspiracy theorists who speculate that Crowley was assassinated by a shadowy government concerned about a film and filmmaker that was getting too close to the truth about their aims.


To be honest with you I’m actually not that familiar w/ the David Crowley story at all. But upon reading about this I’m very curious about it, naturally. At the TCFF Kickoff soirée, my hubby and I ran into Twin Cities’ film legend Al Milgrom as we’re about to head out and got into a conversation with him. He told us to read this New Yorker article by Alec Wilkinson before we see this documentary, so I intend to do that.


ABU

  • Friday October 20th – 2:45 PM
  • Monday October 23rd – 3:15 PM

Director: Arshad Khan

This riveting documentary follows the struggles of Arshad Khan and his relationship with his conservative, strict father (Abu) and traditional mother. Combining vintage footage, animation, and recent interviews, Arshad shares his intimate story of being gay, embracing his culture and dealing with the death of his father.

 


This sounds like the kind of poignant, perhaps even bittersweet film about self discovery and the struggle to be accepted. His journey would certainly resonate with many people, whether or not we deal with sexual orientation or not.


Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict

  • Saturday October 21st – 12:10 PM

Director: Thomas Benca

Chasing the Dragon chronicles the lives of several people, from different backgrounds, who fell victim to the opioid epidemic. Their testimonies tell a tragic story that is being felt by families and communities across the country.


As someone who dealt with a mother who died partly because of pain meds and sleeping pills, this film would be tough to watch for me. But it’s certainly a story worth telling, as a cautionary tale that’s sadly prevalent in many households.


COYOTE

  • Saturday October 21st – 9:45 AM (SOLD OUT)
  • Sunday, October 22nd 7:10pm (SOLD OUT)
  • Sunday, October 22nd 9:40pm (Tickets Available)

Director: Thomas Simmons

The inspiring true story of legendary sailor, Mike Plant, the “Saltwater Cowboy” (Sailing World) who completed three solo circumnavigations and set the American record for the fastest lap of the planet. His adventurous spirit and colorful past make Plant “as close as yachting gets to a James Dean character” (The New York Times) with a universal story about daring to dream.


Though I haven’t been on a sailing trip before, I’ve always found the idea of sailing so fascinating. I’ve never heard of Mike Plant before but his journey sounds so fascinating, and the ‘dare to dream’ story is definitely a universal one. Plus, being in the ocean is always a fun escapism for me.


Human Flow

  • Thursday October 19th – 7:45 PM

Director: Ai Weiwei

Artist, activist and director Ai Weiwei captures the global refugee crisis – the greatest human displacement since World War II – I in this breathtakingly epic film journey HUMAN FLOW.


No doubt this film is as timely as ever. It’s definitely one I have to pack tissues for, even the trailer moved me to tears. As an immigrant, I’m always cognizant about what it means to have a home away from home… and I realize not many people are as blessed as I am in that regard.


Legends of The Road

  • Monday October 23rd – 3:30 PM

Director: Gary Thomsen

Legends of The Road is a captivating blend of documentary techniques, mixing a unique style of candid student shot vérité footage with the in-your-face style of Leon Gast. It’s a deeply moving account of 28 public high school students from Chief Sealth High School, in Seattle, Washington, who in 1999-2000 completed an extraordinary research project on a largely unknown baseball phenomenon known as barnstorming. And, then in 2000, re-created a “Barnstorming Tour” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Barnstorming.


This sounds like a must for baseball fans (as our blog contributor Sarah Johnson can attest!). But even if you’re not into the sport, we can all enjoy an inspiring story about overcoming obstacles and achieving something against all odds.


Purple Dreams

  • Monday October 23rd – 6:15 PM

Director: Joanne Hock

“Packing all the drama of “A Chorus Line,” the adolescent charm of “Fame” and the talent of “Glee,” “Purple Dreams” is the story of students at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte.

From auditions to callbacks to ultimate triumph, filmmaker Joanne Hock follows a group at the school as they undertake a production of “The Color Purple”.



Speaking of overcoming obstacles, this is another story about the triumph of the human spirit. Even the trailer is a charmer, I can’t wait to be swept off my feet by these Charlotte school children tackling an important play based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel.


Screenagers

  • Sunday October 22nd – 2:15 PM

Director: Delaney Ruston

SCREENAGERS probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including the director’s own, and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Thru surprising insights from authors and brain scientists solutions immerge on how we can empower kids to best navigate the digital world.


I’m surprised I actually haven’t seen a documentary on this topic sooner. I mean it’s not just teenagers who are suffering from screen addiction, I know I am guilty of that as well. As soon as one gets oneself a smart phone, we are prone to this addiction. I don’t have kids myself, but I certainly feel for parents who have to discipline kids in the digital age.


She Started It

  • Monday October 23rd – 6:30 PM

Director: Nora Poggi, Insiyah Saeed

She Started It is an award-winning documentary that provides a rare look in the lives of five ambitious young women entrepreneurs (Thuy, Stacey, Sheena, Brienne and Agathe) who will stop at nothing to pursue their startup dreams.


This is the kind of important documentaries I hope people would make more of. I can’t wait to watch and learn each of these women’s stories as they pursue their dreams. ‘Here’s to the fools who dreams…’ says La La Land, but y’know what, it’s not all all foolish to dream when you’ve got a plan.


Supergirl

  • October 23, 2016 3:45 pm

Director: Jessie Auritt

Naomi seems like a typical 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl; watching her lift almost three times her bodyweight tells a different story.

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The word ‘uplifting’ takes a whole new meaning in this film. I always love stories of people who shatters people’s expectations and those who refuse to conform to what’s expected of them.


Check out the full list of documentaries on TCFF official website


As you know, this year I have even more reason to be excited about…


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