First annual Twin Cities Film Fest kicks off tonight: 5 flicks I’m excited to see

The first ever Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) kicks off with a bang tonight with the critically-acclaimed film Waiting for “Superman” and an appearance from Academy Award®-winning director and producer Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth). The tickets are sold out for this, so it looks like it’s going to be a bustling and festive evening at the Mall of America! I’m scheduled to volunteer for a few hours, but hopefully I could get a glimpse of the film in between breaks. But if not, I might try catch it once it opens (exclusively) at the Landmark Uptown theatre starting Friday, October 1.

I’m hoping to see at least 4-5 films during the festival, but we’ll see if that’s possible given my work and volunteering schedule. For sure I’m going to see Nowhere Boy on Wednesday night. The movie chronicles John Lennon’s childhood, covering the time when he met Paul McCartney and how that leads to forming the Beatles. It boast a great British cast of Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) as Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas as his aunt Mimi, Anne-Marie Duff and David Morrissey. Critics embrace Sam Taylor Wood’s directing debut, the film’s got 84% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The trailer definitely got me intrigued:

It’s playing Wednesday 9/29, 7:00pm | AMC Block E 15 (downtown Minneapolis). Tickets are still available at the film page on TCFF website.

After my shift on Friday night, I hope to catch Secretariat. It’s another movie based on a true story of the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time. It stars Diane Lane, John Malkovich and James Cromwell. It looks like a good ‘ol rousing entertainment about triumphing against all odds. It’s playing Friday, 10/1, 7:00pm @ AMC Block E 15, which is one week ahead of the nationwide release date!

The other three I’m hoping to catch are:

The Two Escobars 9/29, 5:00pm | Theatres at Mall of America
When my soccer aficionado colleague Scot told me about the story I was intrigued.

Pablo Escobar was the richest, most powerful drug kingpin in the world, ruling the Medellin Cartel with an iron fist. Andrés Escobar was the biggest soccer star in Colombia. The two were not related, but their fates were inextricably–and fatally–intertwined.

Hollywood Reporter had some nice things to say about the documentary, saying that “…One doesn’t have to be a sports fan to respond to this true tale of soccer, politics, organized crime and murder” and a 8.9 IMDb user rating.

World’s Largest 9/29, 9:30pm & 10/2, 1:30pm | AMC Block E 15
I’m even more curious to see this after exec-director Jatin Setia said this was one of his favorite films he’s seen at the festival. Sounds like a whimsical and cheerful movie that’s guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces.

Desperate for tourism, hundreds of small towns across the U.S.A. claim the “world’s largest” something from 15-foot fiberglass strawberries to 40-foot concrete pheasants. Odd, funny and sometimes beautiful, the statues stand as testaments to the uniqueness and importance – the largeness – that all people feel, and need to feel, about their communities and their own existence.

10/2, 7:00pm | AMC Block E 15
On closing night on Saturday, I might try to catch this one after my volunteer shift is done. This movie won’t be released nationwide until November 5, so it’s cool that TCFF got it a month in advance! Now please don’t confuse this with the Cindy Crawford crapfest of the same name. This one is a political-thriller based on the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. According to, this is the only film from an American director in competition at Cannes, and the indie blog also has great things to say about director Doug Liman’s (Bourne Ultimatum) casting of Naomi Watts: “Watts is finely-tuned as Plame, a woman who tells lies for her country with ease but agonizes over speaking the truth for her own benefit.”

Now, I don’t always leap up to see this type of political thriller, nor am I the biggest Sean Penn fan (read: not really). But I like Naomi Watts, she is one darn good actress and the story sounds pretty intriguing. How accurate it really is to what actually happens I’ll never know, but hey, it sure makes for a compelling thriller and that is what I look for in this movie.

Check out other films offered @ TCFF, there bounds to be something that interest you. Look for my continued coverage of TCFF in the coming days!

Has anybody seen any of these films? If so, do share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Upcoming Local Event: Twin Cities Film Fest Coming Sept. 28!

Happy Monday all! Hope your weekend was a good one. It’s been a hectic but fun one for me as I participated in two local events back to back yesterday. My hubby and a bunch of my friends did the annual St. Paul Classics Bike Tour (the new Lilydale loop was absolutely gorgeous!), followed by a hearty brunch buffet, and then off to a volunteer meeting for the first ever Twin Cities Film Fest with my pal Becky (a.k.a Prairiegirl).

I’ve only attended ONE film festival in my life, which was Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF for short about five years ago, but it left a big impression on me. I remember wishing I could be a part of an event like that, you know, as a volunteer or what not, but I don’t know why I never got around to until now. And the opportunity sort of presented itself early this Summer. I was part of a video shoot for a product launch at work, and the actor we happened to hire was none other than the festival’s executive director, Jatin Setia! My co-workers was the one who told me that he’s working on this event, knowing that I’m a movie blogger. So I emailed him that I’d be interested in blogging about and volunteering for the event and so here I am!

I’m so excited to be a part of this grassroots happening that the Minneapolis mayor called “… a [celebration] of cinema on a larger scale than previously seen in the region.” Another board of directors member, seasoned actor/producer/member Bill Cooper, gave us a spiel about the vision of the festival and said how this event has exceeded everyone’s expectations. They had wished for one studio film and they’ve got FIVE (i.e. the Sean Penn/Naomi Watts thriller Fair Game, the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy), totaling 30+ features with an eclectic mix of studio and independent feature films and shorts. This is just exciting stuff, and I can’t agree more with what he said to Becky and I afterward: this city needs it! There have been other festivals in town, but these guys have big dreams, and they, as well as we avid MN moviegoers want to see it come true. And that is, in the years to come, we’ll be the festivals movie bloggers and watchers would be buzzing about the way they do Tribeca, Sundance, TIFF, etc. Didn’t I mention they have big dreams? 🙂 But hey, why not, as a wise man once says, “we are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision,” TIFF wasn’t THIS big 34 years ago when it first premiered. In fact, according to this site, “TIFF had a setback in its first year when Hollywood studios decided to withdraw their contributions, apparently considering the Toronto audience base too parochial.”

So, I will be blogging more about TCFF up until and during the film festival, in the meantime, please peruse the official site for the films featured in the 5-day event. Stay tuned for more!

Btw, has any of you have had experience covering for or being a part of a local film festival?