Three days away until #MSPIFF38 – Check out the MINNEAPOLIS ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019 lineup!

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival returns for its 38th year, presenting more than 250+ bold, exciting, and moving works from new and veteran filmmakers from around the globe.ar, presenting more than 250+ bold, exciting, and moving works from new and veteran filmmakers from around the globe. #MSPIFF38

OPENING NIGHT: ICÍAR BOLLAÍN’S YULI

Yuli is a dazzling dramatization of the early life and work of legendary Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta. Inspired by Acosta’s 2007 memoir No Way Home, which detailed his rise from the streets of Havana to the heights of classical ballet. The film was helmed by the distinguished Basque director Icíar Bollaín and adapted for the screen by her frequent collaborator Paul Laverty. The Opening Night Ticket includes the film screening, complimentary champagne and popcorn, and the after-party.

WOMEN + FILM INITIATIVE

The MSP Film Society also announces the expansion of their WOMEN & FILM INITIATIVE for the 38th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and the launch of a new Fiscal Sponsorship Program for local women filmmakers, which will charge a mere 1.9% fee, instead of the industry standard of 5- 10%.

“When we read that women accounted for only 1.9% of the directors of the 100 top-grossing US films in 2014, this statistic propelled us to find ways within our organization to begin to address this disparity and inequity,” says Susan Smoluchowski, Executive Director of the MSP Film Society. “In 2015, we developed and launched a major MSPIFF program entitled Women & Film to highlight the work of women filmmakers from around the globe. Every year since, a growing number of films directed by women and programs highlighting the work of women directors have been included in our annual MSPIFF line-up, and in 2019 we expand that commitment.”

The 38th MSPIFF will include 75+ films directed by women filmmakers spanning all programs, from the Opening Night film Yuli, directed by Spanish actress, director and screenwriter Icíar Bollaín, to the Nextwave program of shorts directed by aspiring teen filmmakers.

LUMINARY TRIBUTE to the ORIGINAL WOMAN IN FILM:
ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ – Saturday, April 13, 2019

The MSPIFF Luminaries Tribute will include a screening of the riveting documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice GuyBlaché, directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodie Foster, followed by the MSPIFF Centerpiece Party at the A-Mill Artist Lofts to celebrate all the women filmmakers and special guests attending this year’s festival, including Ann Hornaday, Chief Film Critic from the Washington Post.

BROWSE THE FULL LINEUP

The 38th MSPIFF runs April 4 – 20, 2019 and showcases over 250 dynamic narrative films, engaging documentaries, and innovative shorts by both emerging and veteran filmmakers hailing from 70+ countries around the world.

WOMEN & FILM FEATURE TITLES

RAISE HELL: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins

Six feet of Texas trouble, Molly Ivins took on Good Old Boy corruption wherever she found it. Director Janice Engel charts her early days, from the Minneapolis Tribune, where Ivins was the first woman police reporter covering the turbulence of the late 60s, to joining the New York Times in the mid-70s, and freelancing everywhere from The Nation to TV Guide. Ivins served up her quality reportage with a heaping dollop of humor, and by the height of her popularity in the early 2000s, she was a best-selling author of seven books, and over 400 newspapers around the country carried her column. Raise Hell premiered last month at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. *DIRECTOR WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE!

PERSONAL STATEMENT

Director, Producer and Cinematographer Julie Dressner’s debut feature-length documentary follows three seniors from Brooklyn who are determined to get their entire class to college, even though they aren’t sure they are going to make it there themselves. They are working as peer counselors because many of their friends have nowhere else to turn for support. They struggle and they stumble, but refuse to succumb to the barriers that prevent so many low-income students from attending and graduating from college. Personal Statement premiered at the 2018 AFI Docs, where it was the Opening Night Film. *DIRECTOR WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE!

HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK: Speaking Out in America

In the wake of both Hefner’s death and the #MeToo movement, Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Brigitte Berman returns to a familiar subject, Hugh Hefner, this time focusing on the Playboy icon’s brief but impactful television ventures. Penthouse and Playboy: After Dark were talk shows that aired in the late 50s and 60’s, respectfully, and featured numerous celebrity guests, musicians, public figures and more. Told through interviews and a collection of riveting archived footage, this documentary makes it clear how and why Hugh Hefner deserves a spot in television history. *DIRECTOR WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE!

CRYSTAL SWAN / Хрусталь

The year is 1996. Young Belarusian DJ Velya dreams of starting a new life in Chicago, the place that first inspired her love of music. Desperate to claim her own version of the American Dream, young Velya is instead stuck in farcical limbo. From Director Darya Zhuk, who previously directed the documentary Gogol Bordello NonStop, Crystal Swan is her first narrative feature film, and premiered at the 2018 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. *DIRECTOR WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE!

HAIL SATAN?

Director Penny Lane charts the meteoric rise and influence of The Satanic Temple, a religious group catapulted to the spotlight in 2015 after pleading for the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Oklahoma State Capitol in exchange for an 8-foot tall statue of occult deity Baphomet. Both controversial and widely misunderstood in the public consciousness. Lane follows members of the religion with an unbiased gaze as they tell the real story. Hail Satan? premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival.

AFTERWARD

An examination of the trauma shared between victims and victimizers alike, director and trauma expert Ofra Bloch serves as her own subject director as she visits to Germany, Israel and Palestine to confront her own demons in the wake of the recent surge of anti-Semitism. Afterward premiered at 2018 DOC NYC.

4 KATE NASH: Underestimate The Girl

Director Amy Goldstein’s unfiltered documentary follows English punk renegade-turned-TV wresting star Kate Nash through the tumultuous highs and lows in her life, alternating between explosive live performances and vulnerable moments of personal betrayal and insight. Kate Nash: Underestimate The Girl premiered at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival.

ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch

Travelling across twenty countries and six continents, filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky explore and investigate the vast, undeniable and lasting human impact on the planet. Anthropocene premiered at 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, followed by Sundance and Berlin.

CORE OF THE WORLD / Serdtse Mira

Egor is a vet at a training facility for hunting dogs in a remote region of Russia, where he is surrounded by foxes, deer, and badgers. He cleans the kennels, oversees the workers, and meets with the clients and treats their dogs. Egor is willing to take on any job to get closer to the facility’s master, and his near and dear. He wants the impossible —to become a member of that family. Core of the World premiered at 2018 San Sebastian, followed by Toronto and Rotterdam International Film Festivals.

THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW / Yom Adaatou Zouli

In the war torn Damascus countryside, a Syrian pharmacist named Sena is separated for her son. Forced to venture outside of town alongside to siblings, Sena navigates a landscape of brutality, loss and trauma. Working primarily with exiled Syrian cast and crew, first-time director Soudade Kaadan’s cinema vérité style is melded with touches of magic realism. The Day I Lost My Shadow premiered at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, where Kaadan received the Lion of the Future award.

FIG TREE

Ethiopian-Israeli writer-director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian makes a startlingly confident feature debut with this story of 16-year old Mina, whose Jewish family is planning to flee war-torn Ethiopia for Israel. But this plan leaves out the person Mina loves most: Eli, her Christian boyfriend. Fig Tree premiered at the 2018 Haifa Film Festival, followed by Toronto International Film Festival.

GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY / 柔情史

A hilarious and heartfelt telling of the relationship between mothers and daughters, Yang Mingming’s feature film debut follows duo Wu (played by Yang) and her mother (Nai An) as neurotic writers who are as rebellious as they are codependent. Girls Always Happy premiered at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival.

THE GOOD GIRLS / Las Niñas Bien

This stunning feature from director Alejandra Márquez Abella highlights the stark reality of Mexico’s financial crisis of 1982 through the eyes of a young couple, Fernando and his socialite wife Sofia (beautifully portrayed by Ilses Sala.) With the world now spinning on its head, they are forced to adjust to a life without wealth. Las Niñas Bien premiered at 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

THE LITTLE COMRADE / Seltsimees Laps

This poignant coming-of-age story shows the effect of the Stalinist terror visited on the Baltic countries in the 1950s from the point of view of a traumatized six-year-old Estonian girl, who sees her school principal mother arrested and taken away at gun-point. Based on autobiographical novels by Tungal, who is one of Estonia’s most beloved writers.

LOVE THEM FIRST: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary School

Principal Mauri Melander Friestleben grew up just blocks from the school she now leads, Lucy Laney Elementary School in North Minneapolis, which is facing the state’s harshest penalty for failure in a state where the achievement gap between black and white students is the largest in the nation. By building a culture of unconditional love and high expectations, test scores rise for the first time in two decades. World Premiere.

NOTE: My personal friend and composer of my short film Hearts Want, Charlie McCarron, is one of the two composers working on this film!

MUG / TWARZ

Carefree metalhead Jacek is engaged to beautiful Dagmara and working construction on what is supposed to be the world’s tallest statue of Jesus when a shocking accident completely changes his life. This tragi-comedy offers a powerful indictment of provincial Poland’s hypocrisy, prejudice and fear of difference, as a young man’s face transplant brings out the worst in his small town neighbors. Mug premiered at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival.

THE SHARKS

Director Lucía Garibaldi’s film features the unusual conceit of a rumor of actual sharks storming the beach where a pair of young lovers also happen to be taking their first measured steps towards a lasting romance. Unfazed, Rosina pursues Joselo as a self-aware heroine of her own hopes and agency. The Sharks premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

THE SILENCE OF OTHERS / El Silencio de Otros

Filmed over six years, Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar’s gripping documentary explores the aftermath of General Franco’s 40-year dictatorship of Spain through a group of citizens whose parents were disappeared, whose newborn children were taken, or who were imprisoned and tortured by the regime, as they pursue the groundbreaking ‘Argentine Lawsuit’ against the Spanish government. The Silence of Others premiered at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival.

SOFIA

Honor and social appearance prove more important than the truth in this caustic look at contemporary Moroccan society, where it is still a crime for a woman to give birth out of wedlock. Faced with this dilemma, the title character, a 20-year-old from a middle-class family, has little choice. Sofia premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

THE THIRD WIFE

In 19th century Vietnam, 14-year old May has been married off to a rich landowner, becoming his third wife. Her husband is kind to her, so long as May produces the male heir she is all but expected to. But when May witnesses a taboo affair happening behind closed doors, the discovery spurs a flood of new emotions that she never knew existed. The Third Wife premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG / Tarde Para Morir Joven

Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor Castillo third feature-film is a dynamic tale of adolescence set in a rustic community of artists. It’s almost New Year’s Eve and Sofía, Lucas and Clara are navigating the complicated road of growing up, a road littered with first loves, dysfunction and all-too adult stakes. Too Late to Die Young premiered at the 2018 Locarno International Film Festival.

VISION

From auteur Naomi Kawase, whose work spans over three decades and includes numerous award-winning and nominated documentaries and narrative features, Vision tells the story of Jeanne (celebrated French actress Juiliette Binoche) as a travel writer in search of a healing herb who is joined on her journey by a young translator and a local skeptic. Vision premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

WORKING WOMAN / Isha Ovedet

This riveting drama about workplace sexual harassment centers on a young Israeli mother of three whose successes on the job are accompanied by increasingly overt advances by her boss, a luxury real estate developer not used to hearing the word “no.” Director-writer Michal Aviad is widely acclaimed for her portraits of Israeli society seen through the prism of gender. Working Woman premiered at the 2018 Jerusalem Film Festival, followed by the Toronto International Film Festival.


7 MORE FILMS I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE

These films are made by female filmmakers or featuring strong female protagonists, which are in keeping with WOMEN & FILM INITIATIVE. But then again, I’ve always been a huge of supporter of #womeninfilm since I started this blog more than a decade ago!

Go Back To China – Emily Ting

Actor, filmmaker and Youtube sensation Anna Akana stars in this hilarious dramedy about wealth, heritage and overdue adulthood. After burning through her trust fund, Sasha Li (Akana) is commanded by her father (Richard Ng) to “go back” to China, where she will be forced to work at her family’s toy company. While the order seems like a devastating sentence at first, Sasha gradually takes steps beyond the self-serving life she’d known and grown accustomed to while living large in Los Angeles. Blending coming-of-age themes with family drama, Ting’s film sees Sasha reconnect with both her cultural heritage and her family, which includes her half-sister (Lynn Chen) and mother (Kelly Hu).

I love Emily’s first film Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, one of my favorites from Twin Cities Film Fest 2015. This film debuted at SXSW so I’m thrilled that it’s playing here at MSPIFF!

Red Joan – Trevor Nunn

Widely named as the “most important female agent ever recruited by the USSR” the story of Melitta Norwood (known in the film as Joan Stanley) is infamous. Here, Academy Award-winner Judi Dench brings history to life alongside famed theater and film director Trevor Nunn. Together, Dench and Nunn masterfully illustrate the life and career of “Red Joan”, including the various hardships and dangers she faced during her time of service. Dench plays Joan in the year 2000, where she is met with a danger she’s never faced before–a charge of treason. After the death of one of her former colleagues brings to light her work as a spy decades prior, Joan is forced to tell her side of the story. We are then transported to Cambridge shortly before the war, where a young Joan (Sophie Cookson) is about to take her first steps into the world of espionage.

Dame Judi as a former spy? YES PLEASE!! As a huge fan of the British thespian and a lover of the spy genre, this is a movie NOT to be missed!

NON-FICTION – Olivier Assayas

A literary editor is propelled into the future by changing industry demands and one particularly determined new employee. The editor in question, Alain (Guillaume Canet), is about to reject the latest from his longtime client, Léonard (Vincent Macaigne), due to its overweight narrative–to be frank–it’s a story he’s heard before. Pulling from the internet to pad his experiences, Léonard’s writing methods have not only bored Alain, but confused him. Alain’s wife, Selena (Juliette Binoche), is a famed television actress who is more accustomed, than her husband, to the modern age, and is also in the midst of a casual affair with Léonard. When Laure (Christa Théret) is hired by Alain’s publishing company to help propel them into a new age of modernity, the older characters find themselves in her orbit, which only complicates their relationships.

It’s tradition that I see a Juliette Binoche film nearly every year at MSPIFF. She always have something intriguing to watch, and I like two of Olivier Assayas films so far, so yeah I’m up to see this one!

OPHELIA – Claire McCarthy

A vivid retelling of Shakespeare’s classic drama, Hamlet, from the perspective of Ophelia, Claire McCarthy’s breathtaking drama stars Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) as the titular protagonist in a film that reinvisions the doomed young woman as the heroine of this tragic tale of love, loss and prophecy. Packed with a powerhouse cast that includes Naomi Watts, Clive Owen and George McKay, Ridley’s Ophelia is caught in a web of royal machinations and dark prophecies, all of which threaten the blossoming love between herself and McKay’s Prince Hamlet.

Not sure why there isn’t a trailer yet since this film premiered at Sundance last year, but The Hollywood Reporter called this a “…vigorous, colorful and clever melodrama smartly rethinks both the play and the character, making her a far more proactive figure than Shakespeare did in addition to entirely re-imagining her fate.”  I quite like re-imaginings of classic tales and this cast is pretty awesome.

Claire Darling – Julie Bertuccelli

Director Julie Bertuccelli’s spirited adaptation of Lynda Rutledge’s novel brings mother/daughter duo, Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni (Deneuve’s own daughter), to the big screen. On a gorgeous summer day in the village of Verderonne, Claire Darling (Deneuve) makes a decision. She places various items from her spacious estate out on her front lawn for the garage sale of a lifetime, with no spoken reason other than the sunny weather. This prompts her neighbors to swarm her property, barreling over each other to swoop up the lavish items Claire has marked for sale at suspiciously low prices. As her neighbors shop, the reason for Claire’s abrupt change in lifestyle comes into view–she has decided to die. After alternating between Claire’s memories of love, loss, and an altogether eccentric life, the film takes another turn when Claire finds a long-lost face at her door, one that she has not seen in over 20 years; her daughter, Mary.

I enjoy French films (just listening to them speak is delightful). I haven’t seen Deneuve in ages, and I love Laure Calamy in Call My Agent! series, too!

This Changes Everything – Tom Donahue

Building upon the long-overdue Me Too movement and revelations of the rampant sexism in Hollywood, This Changes Everything continues the movements mission by breaking down and exposing the true depth of Hollywood corruption. Tackling the central, often unspoken, injustices that have plagued the industry for over a century, this documentary doesn’t leave anything under the table. Sexism, the unequal and often distorted representation of women in film, both in front of and behind the screen, and the big question of “what now?” serve as the the film’s main themes. While there is an understandable amount of anger associated with the Me Too movement and its cause, the film isn’t marred by conjecture–instead, it presents the factual and well-documented examples of corruption in film in order to inspire a brighter future.

This sounds like a well-balanced documentary about a timely topic that any female filmmakers and their allies should watch. I’m also curious as to find out more about ‘what now?’ now that this movement has been evolved since 2017 when sexual-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein were first widely reported.

Stalag Luft III – One Man’s Story – Louise Woehrle

Stalag Luft III – One Man’s Story is told by WWII U.S. Eighth Air Force Bombardier Lt. Charles Woehrle, one of 10,000 prisoners in the German prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III, depicted in the iconic film “”The Great Escape.”” At age 93, this remarkable man and gifted storyteller takes us from Pine City, Minnesota to war-torn Europe as he relives his experiences with vivid detail that include his B-17 getting shot down, capture by the Nazis, an unexpected parcel from Geneva, and surviving two long years of uncertainty and tremendous hardship as a prisoner of war.

I LOVE World War II films and this documentary is billed as ‘A saga filled with grit and grace’ AND it has a Minnesota connection! Apparently the filmmaker Louise Woehrle is the niece of Charles Woehrle himself, one of the countless heroes from the Greatest Generation who has much to teach us about war and about life.


The Film Society programming screens at the St. Anthony Main Theatre 115 SE Main Street, Minneapolis, MN 55414 Film Society

Tickets: $15.00 General Admission | $11.00 Film Society Members | $8.00 Students

*special ticket pricing may apply for special presentations and other events

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.

Connect with MSPIFF:

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#MSPIFF38 #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?

MSPIFF37 – Documentary Reviews: ‘Silicone Soul’ + ‘A Work In Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)’

I’m still playing catch-up with MSPFF a month after it’s over. Well that’s life, always a juggling act between my full time 9-5 job, blogging, writing, and just life’s business in general. I still have a few MSPIFF interviews to be transcribed, so stay tuned for those!

Today we’ve got reviews of two more documentaries I enjoyed, both have a strong MN connection, made right here in Minnesota and well worth checking out!


MSPIFF Reviews

Silicone Soul

Directed by: Melody Gilbert

When having a relationship with a real human being is too hard, where do you turn?

That’s the question this inherently thought-provoking documentary poses. The first thing that might come to your mind seeing stills or even hear about silicone dolls is perhaps not a positive one. I have to admit, it conjures up something provocative, sexual and perhaps even the word ‘icky’ comes to mind. But as great documentary filmmakers do, its role is not to label or judge their subject.

The main subjects featured in its poster John and his ‘wife’ Jackie is perhaps the most similar to Lars and the Real Girl (that fictitious film would make a good companion piece to this doc). John is a tender man who’s disappointed by his past relationships and and he treats his synthetic companion with such loving care. He’d take her to nice restaurants, the zoo, etc. on her wheelchair, and he’d shrug off people’s obvious confusion, even disgust, nonchalantly. “It is weird… but it’s good weird. Weird doesn’t mean bad.” So he’s well aware of this unusual relationship but he’s comfortable enough in his own skin that he doesn’t care what others think.

Then there’s Davecat and his wife & mistress, which is obviously a very sexual relationship. I gotta say I cringe as he talked about some of the most um, gross aspects covered in the film. In contrast however, there’s the segments where silicone babies are used to recreate the love between mother and child in senior homes. The look on the older residents, some with dementia, as they hold a ‘baby’ in their hand tugs my heartstrings. The dolls look so lifelike some couldn’t figure out they aren’t real, but the emotion they feel definitely are real.

I think one of the most fascinating segment for me is the part involving a female artist who used to work on Wall Street. I’m glad Melody included a woman as one of the human subjects because it kind of presents something entirely unexpected. The artist/photographer based in NYC uses the dolls for various artistic photoshoots in her studio, stating that the dolls are basically replacements to friendships she wished she had.

Despite the provocative nature, Melody didn’t sensationalize the subject matter, but instead captures the various stories with an astute yet tender lens. There are also some fun and insightful animation by local filmmaker Beth Peloff that really helped illustrates some of the situations the film simply couldn’t capture. The themes of love, secrets, loneliness and social acceptance…are all universal which we can all relate to and struggle with at some point in our lives.

As I left the theater though, I did ponder about the relationship between John and his female neighbor who also lives alone. She totally accepts John’s wife Jackie and she and John seem to have a good rapport together. It did make me wonder why John wouldn’t consider perhaps starting a relationship with his human neighbor instead. But perhaps that is the point of the film, who are we to judge who…or what…people choose to love?

I had the privilege of knowing about this project months months before it premiered at MSPIFF, when I attended a Film Fatales panel where filmmaker Melody Gilbert  was one of the speakers. In fact, I introduced the composer of my short film Hearts Want, Charlie McCarron, to Melody at another film event and he ended up doing the music for the film. Suffice to say, this documentary also boasts great music to go with its intriguing imagery.

Silicone Soul upcoming screening:

Duluth Superior Film Festival (Duluth, MN)
June 2, 2018 – 7pm – Zinema 2

Visit its official website for more screening location/dates and other info.


A Work In Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)

Directed by:  Phil Harder

I had known who Al Milgrom is for a long time, but I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting the man himself last year (at another film festival event) where he asked where I was from. When he found out I’m from Indonesia, he proceeded to tell me he’s befriended some of Indonesia’s most celebrated filmmakers and actors. One thing that’d strike people about Al would be his amazing memory. At 95 he’s still as sharp as ever. He not only remembered who I am at our next meeting weeks later, but he actually remembered where I’m from!

Everyone who’s been in the film business in Minnesota likely has an ‘Al Milgrom story.’ That’s why I took a few hours off from work specifically to see this documentary. Director Phil Harder followed the 95-year-old Milgrom as he gave us a fascinating tour to his personal home in Minneapolis where he kept decades-worth of film archives. I sincerely hope one day his house would become a film museum, and if someone were to do a fundraising to make that happen, I’d readily contribute! A quintessential cinephile whose cinematic heroes include Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut, John Waters, as well as classic silent filmmakers Erich von Stroheim, his deep, singular passion for films is palpable. His first intro to film is Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, which led him to become the ‘Minnesota Godfather of Cinema’ as it were. He’s the founding father of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul itself back in 1962.

I could’ve easily watched this film again as there are so many I’ve missed. Mr. Milgrom has brought the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, and Milos Forman to the Twin Cities. There are footage of a Godard interview here in town, and there’s even sound footage of him interviewing the then still-emerging filmmaker Martin Scorsese (where Mr. Milgrom had to ask how Scorsese spell his name). Sadly, the 1970 protest documentary Scorsese was working on at the time never aired. Mr. Milgrom himself was a photojournalist for the US Army, on top of being a documentarian, world traveler and cinema pioneer in his illustrious career.

But the most fascinating parts of this doc has to be Al’s trip to Russia in 1959, which he’s still working on to this day. Hence the self-described term “The World’s Oldest Emerging Filmmaker” as he’s working on Russian Journey: The Story of a Filmmaker’s Travels Behind the Curtain. He definitely has the gift of capturing intriguing subject matters through visual medium. Those close-ups of various Russian citizens simply living their daily lives are full of intriguing untold stories waiting to be uncovered. Unfortunately, Al revealed in this doc that he’s lost the audio file to complete the project. The good news is, he (with the help of other filmmaker friends) are working on getting that resolved, so hopefully we get to see the finished film soon!

This 70-minute documentary definitely left me wanting more. I could’ve watched another half hour of just watching Mr. Milgrom give commentary about cinema, filmmaking, etc. in his museum-like home, and even commenting on some of the plethora of photos he’s taken in the past. I’m glad the filmmaker wisely chose to confine the film to just within Al’s home, which is a fascinating character in and of itself.

P.S. MSPIFF made the mistake of inserting a short documentary Influenced which is about how some MN business uses social media. It’s only 7 minutes long but its message seemed to be in such a contrast of who Al Milgrom is all about that people were chanting ‘we want Al!’ in protest!

I also got to take part of the Q&A with Al Milgrom, as well as the director Phil Harder and producer Mike Dust. It was well worth staying for!


A Work In Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey) upcoming screening:

Duluth Superior Film Festival (Duluth, MN)
Sunday, June 3rd at 3pm – Zinema

Visit DSFF website official website for more details


 

MSPIFF37 – Quick Recap + Reviews: ‘Montparnasse Bienvenue’ + ‘Les Affames’ + ‘Room 213’

The last two weeks truly have been a whirlwind for me thanks to MSPIFF. Practically every single day there’s some kind of film-related activities, whether it’s watching/reviewing films, attending panels or interviewing filmmakers. And since this year is also the first time I actually have a short film playing at the festival, that means I’m also wearing multiple hats as a blogger AND filmmaker.

It also happens to be a really busy time at the office for me that prevents me from attending most afternoon screenings (on top of that crazy blizzard that grounded even the most ardent MN cinephiles!). Thankfully it was a relatively warm (50 degrees!) and sunny day for Hearts Want‘s screening last Tuesday (April 24). The Looking In Short Block turned out to be a sold-out screening so it was cool to see a packed house!

On top of showcasing over 200 films, MSPIFF also has a plethora of film-related panels available for FREE to the public. I had set out to attend three of them but was only able to make it to one of them. But to me, as a female film blogger, writer AND aspiring filmmaker, the Film Fatales panel is one not to be missed!

Members of Film Fatales, a global community of women filmmakers, reflect on the process, challenges and joys unique to directing feature films. They will discuss the structure of the organization it’s mission, goals, and their films and the filmmaking process.

Two of the panel speakers, Melody Gilbert and Dawn Mikkelson, have their films (Silicone Soul and Risking Light, respectively) made the Best of Fest! Risking Light‘s producer Miranda Wilson was also one of the panelists, as well as Maribeth Romslo, whose debut feature Dragonfly premiered at MSPIFF a couple of years ago.

The Film Fatales panel with inspiring Minnesota’s #womeninfilm

MSPIFF Reviews

Montparnasse Bienvenüe

Directed by: Lénor Serraille

It’s tradition that every year at MSPIFF I have to watch a French film w/ Juliette Binoche, but her film Let the Sunshine In happens to screen at the exact same time as Hearts Want :\ But hey, the French film I did end up watching turns out to be an intriguing one, and it’s also written/directed by a female filmmaker.

hot mess

noun

USinformal
  1. a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered, especially one that is a source of peculiar fascination.
    “this outfit is definitely a hot mess”

Few would argue that Paula, amusingly played by Laetitia Dosch, is a hot mess. She is down on her luck after having broken up (well ditched) by her now famous photographer boyfriend. The film is a character study that starts off with a bang (or thud) that lands Paula in the hospital. She’s one of those girls who simply cannot stop talking, regardless whether the person on the opposite side is willing to listen or not. So we quickly learnt that she had been in a relationship with her boyfriend for 10 years and now she’s broke and utterly lost as to what to do with her life.

Being a Francophile that I am, simply watching scenes of Paula yelling at her ex boyfriend Joachim outside his flat and stumbling around on Parisian streets with her ex’s cat is amusing to me. But Dosch herself is a fascinating actress who mesmerizes even at her lowest moments. Somehow Paula always looks chic too (she is Parisian after all) in her stolen brick-red coat and wooden clogs.

After drifting from place to place for days, she finds work as a nanny in  the Montparnasse neighborhood, hence the title. She also lands part time work at a lingerie boutique where she befriends a security guard Ousmane (Souleymane Seye Ndiaye).  The more people she encounter, even a case of mistaken identity on a bus, the more we learn just how unpredictable Paula can be.

One thing I’m frustrated with however, is how deliberately vague this film is. There’s obviously a major conflict between Paula and her estranged mother, who adamantly refuses to see her, but it’s never fully explained why. The film also takes its time introducing us to Paula’s ex, which seems rather uneventful after she spends most of the movie wanting to get back with him.

But what’s certain is, by the end of the film, she’s no longer the same Paula I saw in the beginning of the movie. Whether or not she’s actually ‘grown up’ is up for debate, but then again the filmmaker doesn’t make a moral stand about her protagonist. In the end, Paula remains quite an enigma, observed through an astute but impartial lens. But the film’s charm lies in the colorful chaos our heroine often finds herself in, which reminds us how life’s riddles don’t always have a neat resolution.

Director Bio: Lénor Serraille was born in 1980 in Lyon, France. She has produced several shorts during her career, including Body (’16), which she also wrote. Montparnasse Bienvenue serves as her feature-film debut.


Les Affamés

Directed by: Robin Aubert

Les Affames takes place in a small countryside village in Quebec overrun by zombies. The movie follows a group of survivors (Marc-Andre Grondin as Bonin; Monia Chokri as Tania; Charlotte St-Martin as Zoe, Micheline Lanctot as Pauline, Marie-Ginette Guay as Therese, Brigitte Poupart as Celine, Edouard Tremblay-Grenier as Ti-Cul, and Luc Proulx as Real) as they struggle to avoid these new enemies and find a safe location.

The profile for this film on the MSPIFF website describes it as “a contemplative take on the zombie apocalypse” that “does not rely on the shock factor familiar to the popular, and some would argue overspent, genre.” I want to know who wrote this, because nothing about this description is accurate. I’m pretty sure that by “contemplative” they just mean “French” and “containing pretty shots of nature.” The description goes on to say the zombies are “a constant reflection of what has been lost,” but that’s hardly a unique concept in zombie films, and it’s not really that focused on throughout the movie.

And it certainly relies on the same shock value other movies in this “overspent genre” does. Les Affamés definitely isn’t the gore fest the Romero-type zombie movies usually are, but there are still plenty of jump scares throughout the film, although, to be fair, they mostly do these well, thanks to a sparse use of background music and some well-paced scenes. Just because they do them well, though, doesn’t make the movie less reliant on shock value than any other zombie flicks.

The biggest problem with this movie, though, is how aimless it is. There’s no clear goal or story arc. The closest we get to one is when one of the survivors mentions knowing of a bunker they might be able to run to, but once they find it, they move on for no solid reason. The majority of the film is spent watching the survivors drive, run, and hide with no real resolution.

If you like zombie movies and want to see one in a slightly different style, you might enjoy this. It is a well-shot and well-acted film, but overall, it really doesn’t bring anything new to the genre.

Director Bio: Canadian-born Robin Aubert is a diversely talented actor, writer and director. His work includes Saint Martyrs of the Damned (’05), Tuktuq (’16) and several short and television projects. His latest, Les affamés, earned the Best Canadian Film award at the Toronto International Film Fest.

Room 213

Directed by: Emelie Lindblom

Room 213 follows Elvira (Wilma Lundgren), a shy 12-year-old girl, to summer camp, where she and her bunkmates and new friends Meja (Ella Fogelstrom) and Bea (Elena Hovsepyan) begin to notice strange things happening in their room (the titular 213). Are the occurrences just adolescent pranks, or is there a more supernatural explanation?

This movie is proof that you can make a solid horror film while still keeping it kid-appropriate. It’s a simple story, but it’s incredibly well-paced and the scares are slowly built up, keeping the suspense high throughout. The movie keeps you guessing throughout whether the room is actually haunted, and that subtlety is rare in a lot of horror movies, especially in ones aimed at younger audiences. The three leads are believable and relatable, thanks in no small part to the young actors’ skills, although some of the dialogue does feel a little unnatural.

My one other critique is that the ending kind of breaks the overall tone of the film. For the most part, it’s pretty dark and subdued, but the explanation at the end feels lazy, tacked-on, and childish (spoiler ahead): the ghost, Mebel (Agnes Mikkeline), haunted the girls because she was lonely and wanted friends. It’s kind of an overly cutesy ending to a mostly grim-feeling movie. This is an adaptation of a book by Ingelin Angerborn, and maybe it’s better explained or better developed in the original format, but the film version doesn’t handle it very well.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this movie. I would have loved this movie as a 12-year-old, and I would absolutely recommend it to any budding young horror fans, especially ones who enjoy more paranormal/supernatural sub-genres.

Director Bio: Emelie Lindblom is a Swedish script writer and director who graduated from the School of Film Directing, Gothenburg University in 2011. Her latest short 2 was in competition at Gothenburg International Film Festival 2014 and was called a “masterpiece” at Seoul International Women’s Film Festival 2015. Room 213 is her debut feature film.
(courtesy of MSPIFF)


 

First half of MSPIFF – Recap + Reviews: ‘Have a Nice Day’ + ‘Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story’ + ‘Risking Light’ doc

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun! Despite the initial weather snafu in its first few days of MSPIFF37 (freakin’ blizzard in April!!), the largest film festival in the Twin Cities keeps going strong. I did miss a few events and films last weekend and some films were postponed to the Best of Fest period after the official film fest is done due to poor weather. But fortunately I did get screeners to some of them (nice perk of getting a press pass 😀 )

I also got a chance to interview some filmmakers (best part of being a film blogger!), thanks to MSPIFF Publicity/Outreach Coordinator Peter Schilling and Nemer Fieger. I’ll post the interviews once I’m done transcribing them.

It was so inspiring to chat with Debra Granik, an Oscar-nominated writer/director (for Winter’s Bone) who’s all about the craft of filmmaking and lives ‘off the grid’ from the Hollywood hustle and bustle. Her latest narrative feature Leave No Trace brings to life the story of a young girl, Tom (newcomer Thomasin Mckenzie) and her war-vet father, Will (Ben Foster). The two live off the grid, led by Will’s PTSD, which has rendered him incapable of rejoining civilian life. Instead they spend their days in the wilderness, practicing survivalist skills and keeping away from the crowds.

I have to hold off the review for it but let me just say it’s an astounding film that once again feature a phenomenal young talent (not unlike Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone) in New Zealander Thomasin Mckenzie.

Here are some reviews from the first half of MSPIFF, starting w/ one from FlixChatter’s blog contributor Laura S.:

HAVE A NICE DAY

Have a Nice Day is an animated film about a young man named Xiao Zhang (Changlong Zhu) steals a bag containing a million yen in order to pay to fix his fiance’s botched plastic surgery. Unfortunately for him, the bag belongs to local mobster, Liu Shu (Siming Yang), who, of course, sends some of his people after Xiao Zhang to retrieve the bag. Liu Shu and his team aren’t the only ones Xiao Zhang has to watch out for, as he encounters several people on his journey just as desperate to get the bag from him.

For the most part, this is an enjoyable film. The score is fantastic. Making a gritty film noir-style movie as an animated feature makes for a visually interesting experience; the animation uses striking colors, and the backgrounds are beautifully detailed while the characters are very simply designed, creating a unique contrast. The one problem with the simple character design is that they have very little movement, especially facially, which makes it hard to connect what the characters are saying with what they’re feeling. This isn’t helped by the fact that, according to IMDB, the voice cast is made up by non-professional friends of writer/director Jian Liu, and the lack of voice acting experience is evident, although, to be fair, it brings a more genuine feel to the dialogue at times.

My one other gripe has to do with the movie’s tone. Overall, Have a Nice Day is a straightforward mobster thriller, but there is one “what the hell?” moment that is pretty jarring. There’s a musical number that comes out of nowhere halfway through the movie that is never addressed afterward. It’s clearly supposed to be a fantasy sequence/daydream for a couple of the characters trying to get the money, but it’s the only one like it in the film. If they were going for a more surreal feel, they could have included a few more unusual scenes like this (not even necessarily musical numbers, but fantasy sequences). But because it’s just the one, it feels confusing and out of place.

Despite my couple issues with this movie, I would still recommend it, if only for the aesthetic value. The animation is great, the music is gorgeous, and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat.

You have one more chance to catch Have a Nice Day at MSPIFF on
Sunday, April 22 at 9:50 PM at St. Anthony Main Theatre 2
Get tickets »


ANNA KARENINA: VRONSKY’S STORY

I’m a sucker for tragic romance and it doesn’t get more harrowing than Leo Tolstoy’s classic. This time it’s told from Count Vronsky’s perspective, and made by the filmmakers from Tolstoy’s own homeland of Russia.

Set in Manchuria in the midst of Russian-Japanese War in 1904, the film opens in a makeshift hospital led by Sergei Karenin. One of the patients Karenin encountered turns out to be Count Vronsky, and this unexpected meet-up is what intrigues me most about this adaptation. At 138 min, this is sumptuous, lush drama that’s told in flashback. It traces back to how Anna and Vronsky first met, their tumultuous affair, up until 30 years later when Vronsky finds himself under the care of Anna’s son. Visually-stunning with meticulous details to its gorgeous set pieces and costumes, it’s fun to be transported to the opulent world of aristocratic Russia for a couple of hours.

However, the film often feels too indulgent, director Karen Shakhnazarov‘s filmed the scene of Anna in a carriage on the way to the train station with such slo-mo style, as he did with the horse race sequence where Vronsky is thrown from his horse. As a fan of romantic period dramas, I enjoyed many aspects of the film, but wish it offers more than just Vronsky’s remembrance. I also wish Vronsky displayed more emotion as he tells his story.

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The fragment of scenes of Anna/Vronsky’s romance isn’t always captivating, especially as Anna becomes such a nag the more her distrust continue to smother Vronsky and doom their affair. But that first meet-up on the train and the dance at the ball is the stuff epic romance is made of. They barely spoke but their physical chemistry sucks the air out of the room. Elizaveta Boyarskaya (Anna) and Maksim Matveyev (Vronsky) are absolutely stunning as the doomed lovers, though Anna comes across as a mentally-unhinged woman here. I was also quite taken by Kirill Grebenshchikov‘s soulful performance as Sergei, which made me wish there’s more to his interaction with Vronsky. Their story, which sets it apart from other Anna Karenina‘s adaptation, seems like a missed opportunity overall, down to its rather anticlimactic ending.

In the end, this Russian literary adaptation proved to be too melodramatic, but not as emotional as it could’ve been. Apparently there’s also a Russian TV series version of this adaptation, and perhaps this lavish story is best told in a miniseries format. Despite its flaws, I’d still recommend this to fans of Tolstoy’s classic and those who enjoy elegant period dramas.

RISKING LIGHT

As MSPIFF says on their documentary promos, few genres have the raw emotional power of documentaries. Facts are often stranger than fiction, and in many ways, real life stories can be more powerful than narratives, especially when they deal with sensitive subject matter as those presented in Risking Light.

MN filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson’s beautifully-shot documentary is a meditation on forgiveness, layered with a theme that is rarely seen on the screen—forgiving the unforgivable. The film featured three stories from Cambodia, Australia and here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Out of the three stories, the story of Mary Johnson and O’Shea Israel absolutely took my breath away. A story that made headlines as they both ended up being on The View and featured on People magazine, it’s one that definitely made you reflect on what you would do if it happened to you. As with the other two stories dealing with those who were part of Australia’s Aboriginal “Lost Generation” and a survivor of the Cambodian genocide Khmer Rouge, how does one forgive such evil being done not just to them but their entire family?

Forgiveness, compassion, kindness… all universal themes that everyone from every background can relate to and learn about. I love that the documentary also transport us into three different worlds that couldn’t be more different from each other, but yet carry a similar thread. On top of being substantially profound, this is also a visually-stunning film shot on location in three different continents. Definitely a feast for the eyes and nourishment for the soul. Bravo Dawn Mikkelson and team!

Risking Light has two more screening times at MSPIFF at St. Anthony Main Theatre:

Sunday, Apr 22 9:30 AM
Sat, Apr 28 7:05 PM
Get your tickets »


 

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?

MSPIFF Review: In Between (2017)

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Directed By: Maysaloun Hamoud
Written By: Maysaloun Hamoud
Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes

There aren’t many female-led films in Hollywood that aren’t cheesy romantic comedies or Lifetime Network-levels of stupid femme fatale stories. Fortunately, there are some that break the mold, including In Between. Writer and director Maysaloun Hamoud has created a film featuring three women with unique, compelling stories.

In Between follows the lives of three Palestinian women sharing a flat in Tel Aviv. Layla (Mouna Hawa), a carefree party girl by night and shrewd lawyer by day, has recently started a relationship with a young man whom she eventually realizes isn’t quite as accepting of her wild lifestyle. Salma (Sana Jammelieh), a bartender with dreams of being a famous DJ, suffers through her conservative Christian family’s attempts at finding her a husband while she develops a romance with another woman. Nour (Shaden Kanboura), a devout Muslim and university student working toward a degree in computer science, struggles to maintain her independence and work toward her own dreams while her controlling fiance pushes her to abandon her big city life for an obedient, domestic one.

This movie’s greatest strength is its three lead characters. They are all so well-written and well-acted. The flatmates have wonderful chemistry, especially polar opposites Layla and Nour, who develop an almost sister-like bond throughout the movie. Both Layla and Salma are refreshingly unapologetic about their lifestyles while still being incredibly likable, and Nour never gives up her sweet, demure nature, even after escaping her abusive relationship. She does come out of her shell a bit by the end of the movie, but her personality isn’t drastically changed, which I really like; in too many movies, they have the “shy” character do a complete 180, so it’s nice having a character who becomes a stronger person without giving up who she is.

That said, this film had one major problem: its pacing. It never stays on one character’s conflict long enough to establish the problem. For example, we only see Salma’s home life once at the very beginning before everything comes to a head toward the end, and there isn’t even hint of any romantic interest until right before that, so there’s not much time for the tension to build when she brings her new girlfriend to visit her family. Layla’s plot line feels similarly rushed; she mentions about halfway into the movie that she and her boyfriend have been dating for a while now, but nothing has indicated that passage of time, and when it becomes apparent that she is too liberal for him, it feels like it comes out of nowhere because no time was spent establishing that earlier in the movie. The majority of the focus of the film is on Nour, which is understandable as hers is the storyline with the highest stakes, but that doesn’t excuse the other two women’s plots being rushed.

Despite some lack of focus, In Between is an impressive film that is worth checking out. Maysaloun Hamoud shows a lot of promise, and I hope this is the beginning of an illustrious career for her.

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Have you seen ‘In Between’? Well, what did you think? 

MSPIFF Weekend Roundup: Women In Film panels + ‘The Fencer’ mini review

It’s truly one of the best weekends weather-wise in the Twin Cities. It’s 70+ degrees and sunny for three days in a row which is unusual as we do still get snow in April occasionally. It’s also been a fun and insightful weekend for me at MSPIFF!

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FRIDAY

After work I went to see one of Deepa Mehta’s film Bollywood/Hollywood which was a fun Indo-Canadian rom-com. Out of all three of Mehta’s films I’ve seen so far, this is certainly the lightest in terms of tone. But even a frothy Deepa Mehta film is still an intriguing cultural with dramatic poignancy.

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SATURDAY

I’m so glad I had the chance to attend not one but TWO eye-opening Women In Film panels at a loft adjacent to St Anthony Main Theater.

The first one was called Behind the Journey… which featured two female directors who made their debut films in their 50s.

Panelists:
Laura Israel, Director Don’t Blink – Robert Frank
Trisha Ziff, Director The Man Who Saw Too Much

The extraordinary thing about being a director is that “IT” could happen. There is no right or wrong way to get a film made. This conversation with two directors whose work appears in the festival will focus on their stories, career paths, and how they got to where they are today.

It was so inspiring and insightful to simply absorb strong, talented and tenacious women who are currently working in film industry talk about their struggles making film and overcoming them. As an aspiring screenwriter, I felt encouraged to just be around them, talking to them and hear what they had to say. It was wonderful that I got to chat with Rachel Goldberg, a writer/director who’s on the board of Alliance of Women Directors in L.A. prior to the panel, I’d definitely be on the lookout for her narrative feature Transformation Awaits.

The second one is fittingly called An Eye Opener:

Panelists:
Effie Brown, Film and Television Producer
Melissa Butts, Director/Producer
Rachel Goldberg, Director

Rather than speculate on why women are still where they are or contemplate the Sisyphean nature of institutional change–or worse, stop talking all together–this panel will beg us to look directly into the eyes of the beast: ourselves and what we can do better with gender equality in the film industry.

The first panel talked about how it takes more than just talent and skills to succeed, but a strong drive and sheer passion to invest a good chunk of your life in making your film. Trisha Ziff, who was a photography curator prior to making her first film in her 50s, said that one of the key ingredient to surviving the business is solidarity amongst female filmmakers.

That theme kept coming up in the second panel, that it’s essential that women support each other if we want to change the still-grim statistics of the 4% Gender Disparity problem.

Effie Brown (one of the producers of Dear White People) focused on women mentorship, in that women who’ve found success in the industry must take it upon themselves to take newcomers under their wings so to speak, which may include giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t be given a chance.

Thanks MSPIFF for the insightful and truly eye-opening women-in-film panels and for being such a strong champion for gender equality in filmmaking. It’s certainly inspired me to keep at it and never giving up on my dreams as a screenwriter!


Then on Saturday night I got to see Deepa Mehta‘s latest, Beeba Boys. Check out my interview with the acclaimed Indo-Canadian filmmaker who’s no stranger to tackling controversial issues in her films, as her Oscar-nominated 2005 film Water was shut down by Indian government as it’s accused of being anti-Hindu.

Beeba Boys received mixed reviews by the Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver, but I think it’s a bold, stylish and fascinating film that definitely be one of my most memorable films I’ll see this year. It’s fitting that Mehta has been chosen to be the first honoree of MSPIFF Annual Tribute. Here she was following the film’s screening holding her well-deserved award!

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SUNDAY

The film I missed last weekend was played again on Sunday afternoon and I’m so glad I was able to make it!

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It’s such a moving drama loosely based on an Estonian Fencer Endel Nelis who fled from the Russian secret police and became a physical education teacher at a small-town school. It’s a mix of mystery war drama and a sports underdog story that blends seamlessly. The scenes between the teacher and the kids reminds me a bit of films like Dead Poets Society and Rudy. Some of the kid actors are very memorable as well despite their lack of acting experience, especially the ones playing Marta and Jaan. The tentative romance is handled well in that it adds another layer to Endel’s journey without distracting it from the heart of the film.

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It’s beautifully-shot and wonderfully-acted all around, esp. Märt Avandi as the protagonist. This is the first film by acclaimed Finnish filmmaker Klaus Härö and I’m curious to check out more of his work now. The Fencer is a little film with a big heart, with genuine emotional resonance that made me tear up. It also manages to surprise you without being overly-sensational, in fact, the film is so understated yet with a tinge of suspense and a haunting atmosphere that keeps me engrossed from start to finish.

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So that’s my weekend recap, folks. What did you see this weekend? Anything good?