TCFF19 – Reviews of ‘The Present Is Female’ Short Block

The Present is Female is a strong block of shorts. As the name suggests, this block is all about the lives of modern women. Tonally this block is mostly comedic, although there are a couple darker stories thrown in for good measure. The block kicks off with a music video and from there, the stories range from workplace harassment to relationships to vengeance to mental illness and more. There is something for everyone in this block. Thanks to our contributor Holly Peterson.

Black Girls Fly 2

I’m not used to seeing music videos in short film blocks, but this little flick was a great exception to the general rule. Black Girls Fly 2 is a sweet black and white ode to the potential and beauty of black girls set to visuals of black girls playing on a playground, in front of a building, and running through a park. It is a heart-warming start to the block.

Lunch Break

Lunch Break is an unflinching look at micro-aggressions in the workplace told with a delightfully poppy visual aesthetic and a persistent comedic tone. Despite every scene of this film being chock full of material that will keep you squirming uncomfortably in your seat, it is hard not to enjoy the film. Mel (Mo Allen) is a relatable, harassed receptionist who struggles to stand up for herself; the boss’s son (Eli Michael Kaplan) is equal parts adorable and hate-worthy; and Mel’s boss (Josh Server), is so wonderfully played that you will want to punch him in the face by the time all is said and done.

To Ana

To Ana is a sweet little film about ghosting, broken hearts, and the unique steps we take to find healing and closure when it isn’t forthcoming from external sources. Alyssa DiVirgilio is funny, subtle, and relatable. Although the short never leaves the confines of her little apartment, the film is fully developed, leaving the audience with a slightly more whole version of Ana at the end of the film. One of my favorites.

The Tattooed Heart

The Tattooed Heart is an intense little film about a creative writing instructor (Jennifer Morrison) who has more in common with a juvenile delinquent (Madison Wolfe) in her writing class than she expects. The coloring of the film is as dark as its content, which creates a moody, ponderously paced film with a shocking conclusion.

Jane’s Comet

Jane’s Comet is about Jane (Sandra Struthers) who is so intelligent that a bunch of aliens are willing to hang out earth-side waiting for her to accept their rather extraordinary proposal. Told over the course of several decades, this is a cute film about priorities, love, career, and passion. I would have liked to see more of an effort to age the actresses down for the college scene (it took the next scene for me to realize that our main character was not, in fact, a grad student), but I think we all get that not everyone has the budget and resources of Geminae Man. Jane’s Comet is a neatly directed, science-y treat.

Girl Stuff

Girl Stuff is a laugh riot. Taylor (Kendra Alaura) and Gina (Tiffany Cornwell) are friendship goals as they bully each other into living their best lives. Taylor has been avoiding taking the next step with a man she has feelings for and Gina is terrified of getting hurt in love, but through the power of friendship, they are both going to make it. Written and produced by the two lead actresses, this one is about as fun and relatable as it gets. One of my favorites in the block.

The Star of Therapy

The Star of Therapy is a glimpse into the ridiculous world of group therapy, where tensions run high and everyone is obnoxious. Kendra (Ana Pacheco), suffering from both anxiety and depression, struggles to complete her weekly assignments and forms a not-so-friendly rivalry with the overachieving OCD Leanette (Stella Lai). There are great moments in this movie (Kendra’s victory dance and the montage of her room being overtaken by sticky notes were two of my favorites), but it sorely needed a tighter edit and a more natural script. The short frequently drags and although I believe that the over-the-top nature of the dialogue is inspired by real-life experience, it felt too fabricated within the story. Still a highly compelling look at mental illness and how we deal with it.


Grace is probably one of the most powerful shorts in the block. Grace (Shenell Edmonds) and her aunt (Mary Hodges) are evicted from their home, which leads to all kinds of related problems. Edmonds is very gifted at giving the viewer the tiniest of glimpses into her internal world while maintaining a mostly stony teenagery exterior. Beautifully shot, this is a stark, abrupt film and an amazing conversation starter.

*The featured image of this post is a still from Grace short film.

– Reviews by Holly Peterson

For all the Twin Cities Film Fest coverage, type TCFF2019 in the search box on our homepage.



TCFF19 CringeFest Shorts Block Reviews – chills, thrills, & post-apocalyptic frills

TCFF may have come and gone, but hey, doesn’t mean that we’re all done with our coverage and reviews. Just in time for Halloween, we’ve got reviews of 9 horror/thriller films in the Cringe-fest shorts block. Thanks to our horror reviewer Laura Schaubschlager.

For all the TCFF coverage, type TCFF2019 in the search box on our homepage.

I was lucky enough to spend my Tuesday night at TCFF’s Cringe Fest – a block of 9 short horror films advertised as “chills, thrills, and post-apocalyptic frills.” Because of the number of films, I’ll keep my reviews of each brief, but overall, this was a spectacular variety of shorts and it absolutely delivered on its promised chills and thrills.

Killer Hike 7

I had the same problem with this film that I had with Puppet Killer: it makes fun of teen slasher movies, but it doesn’t have any new takes-it just points out how the teens are played by older actors and the characters each fit into specific tropes; again, even the jokes about the horror cliches are cliches themselves. I will say that the cast was a lot of fun to watch despite the stale material; they all gave really over-the-top performances that could have been embarrassing if done wrong, but were genuinely entertaining thanks to this talented group of actors.

Meat Eater

I’m not even sure I should review this one, since it is really short-a couple minutes long at most. We see a young woman running through the woods, trying to escape an unseen tormentor, towards what she hopes will be her salvation. It does manage to keep the suspense high despite its short run time, which is impressive.


This one could have easily been boring-a supernatural found footage movie sounds almost lazy-but I really enjoyed it. The found-footage style really worked with the dark, snowy forest setting, and using the set-up of a husband suspecting his wife of cheating as a framing device was a creative way to tell a story about an otherwise traditional movie monster.

Wrong Level

Based on “The Elevator Game,” an internet urban legend about riding an elevator to a different dimension, Wrong Level follows a young man trying to rescue his girlfriend by playing the game himself. As silly as it sounds, I actually think the “Elevator Game” story is kind of creepy, and it’s a great idea for a short film; the tension literally rises as the elevator ascends. The set-up allows for excellent pacing, which isn’t easy for a short film.

Break In Break Out

This was another suspenseful, well-paced short, and is one of two fantastic films by the talented Michael Drisoll in the Cringe Fest block. Not only is it wonderfully tense and full of twists (I don’t even want to try and describe the plot because I worry I’ll give too much away), but the color scheme and lighting are also gorgeous in a gritty sort of way.

Frost Bite

I didn’t expect a zombie movie to make me cry, but Frost Bite managed it. The young actress playing the girl leading the zombie across the frozen wasteland is incredibly talented. The zombie effects are creepy and well-done. And if the ending doesn’t make you shed at least one tear, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.

The Birdwatcher

A quiet, awkward corporate employee on a birdwatching hike through the woods stumbles upon a potentially dangerous situation and has to decide what to do. With the majority of the focus on one actor with absolutely no dialogue, The Birdwatcher is lucky to have a talented lead- he’s goofy and charming but mysterious enough to make you wonder if there’s something darker going on with him. I also really enjoyed the ending; the short did a great job of building up to it, and it struck the perfect balance of comedy and horror.

To The Boats

The second film in the Cringe Fest lineup by Michael Driscoll, To the Boats follows two men running to the coast of England, trying to reach their final method of escape from the horror of their once beloved home country. This movie is visually stunning, with some gorgeous, sweeping shots of the countryside and coast, and the actors give a gripping, emotional performance.

Check out Ruth’s interview from last year with Michael about this film.

Mr. Sam

Oh, boy. This movie was…a lot. It’s about Sam, an eccentric mortician and his relationship with his mother, a young girl he tutors, and the corpse of a man he’s infatuated with. There are a lot of incredibly dark topics in this film-rape, incest, child abuse, and necrophilia-that feel like they’re mostly there for shock value. I’m not saying dark subjects shouldn’t be included in movies, but because this was a short, there was no time to explore them, and it never felt like there was a real reason for them to be there, as there barely seems to even be a narrative arc, just these loosely strung-together plot points. The cast is good, with Sam and his young student being the stand-outs, and hopefully their roles in this lead to bigger projects, but this was an uncomfortable film to end on.

Stay tuned for more TCFF reviews and interviews!



And the TWIN CITIES FILM FEST 2019 award winners are…

Hello FC readers, it’s Ruth here!


Noah Baumbach’s critically-acclaimed relationship drama Marriage Story tops 2019 winners. Twin Cities audiences honor local productions 3 Day Weekend & Oh My Stars alongside the empowering beauty documentary A Perfect 14.

So, last night Twin Cities Film Fest announced its 2019 award winners Saturday evening, recognizing films and artists across nine top categories. The 11-day marathon of movies, educational sessions and industry events, which showcased more than 120 titles and facilitated a broader conversation around the social cause of environmental sustainability, named Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story as the Best Feature Film of 2019 (stay tuned for my full review!)

“This is fearless, unshakable filmmaking,” said TCFF Artistic Director Steve Snyder. “And in the captivating performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, we see two of today’s most talented artists confronting the darkness and disorientation of divorce. It’s an unflinching portrayal of disintegrating love, and in the conversations that followed the screening this year at our festival, it was clearly an experience few in the audience will forget.”

Perfect 14 doc

The festival’s top non-fiction award went to A Perfect 14, director Giovanna Morales Vargas’s exploration of the fashion industry, body image, and the world of plus size modeling. Best Short Film went to Alex Reeves’s The Automaton, a period drama set in the late 1800’s about a young widow’s shocking discovery that her late husband was building a sentient machine.

The 2019 Audience Awards went to Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy, a new drama profiling renowned civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson and a notable lawsuit in which he fought to free a wrongly condemned death row inmate; Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, an eye-opening documentary that spotlights the influential homoerotic subtext of the classic horror film.

The Best Audience Award for short films went to Oh My Starsa short film from director Cynthia Uhrich (check out my interview with her) set during the Great Depression about one woman’s fight to overcome personal adversity with the help of two friends — one white, one black. The film I helped produce, Master Servant, directed by Julie Koehnen, was the runner up for Best Audience Award.

Actress Zora Howard received this year’s Indie Vision – Breakthrough Performance Award for her searing portrayal of a 17-year-old living out her last summer at home before going to college in the coming-of-age drama Premature. Check out her red carpet interview of Zora and Premature‘s director Rashaad Ernesto Green:

Wyatt McGill
took home this year’s Indie Vision – Breakthrough Achievement Award for his innovative screenplay for 3 Day Weekend, a thriller told through multiple different perspectives, each one offering a different interpretation of the same chain of events.

Albert Magnoli, the director behind Purple Rain, was bestowed with the 2019 North Star Award For Excellence following a special 35th anniversary screening of the film.

The 2019 Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award went to Fairy Tail, directed by Justin and Kristin Schaak.

2019 TCFF Award Winners

Here’s the complete listing of 2019 award winners — you can see the full roster of 2019 TCFF finalists here.

Best Feature Film Award: Marriage Story, directed by Noah Baumbach

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Award: A Perfect 14, directed by Giovanna Morales Vargas

Best Short Film Award: The Automaton, directed by Alex Reeves

Audience Award, Feature: Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Audience Award, Non-Fiction: Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen

Audience Award, Short Film: Oh My Stars, directed by Cynthia Uhrich

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Zora Howard (Premature)

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement: Wyatt McDill (3 Day Weekend)

The Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: Fairy Tail, directed by Justin Schaack and Kristin Schaack

2019 North Star Award For Excellence: Albert Magnoli (Purple Rain)

2019 TCFF Changemaker Award: Isra Hirsi and Rosemary Whipple

Thank you for checking out our TCFF 2019 coverage!

Stay tuned for more TCFF film reviews, as well as other new releases!

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST announces 2019 Awards Finalists

Hello FC readers, it’s Ruth here!

It’s the last day of Twin Cities Film Fest and TCFF has unveiled more than 25 finalists for its top awards. Among the 2019 contenders for Best Feature Film are Taika Waititi’s provocative anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbitwhich recently took home the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival, Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama Marriage Story starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, Trey Edward Shults’ ravishing family portrait Waves, and Alex Thompson’s Saint Francesa surprising story about a six-year-old who forms a close bond with her deadbeat nanny.

Limited tickets remain available for Waves and Saint Frances, both screening this afternoon.

Other notable 2019 finalists include PrematureRashaad Ernesto Green’s romantic drama nominated for this year’s TCFF Indie Vision Award for Zora Howard’s remarkable lead performance, and Rebecca Stern’s Well Groomeda film that goes inside the world of competitive pet grooming and is nominated for this year’s Robert Byrd Best Documentary Award.

Rounding out this year’s Best Feature Film nominees are Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy, an autobiographical script from star Shia LaBeouf about a young actor’s difficult early years, his struggles to cope with his mental health and his push to reconcile with his father; and Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy, a new drama profiling renowned civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson and a notable case in which he fought to free a condemned prisoner on death row.

Actor Bill Murray is serving as a special guest judge for this year’s Comedy Shorts Award. Murray will be choosing his favorite comedic short from the three finalists listed below.

This year’s TCFF slate, which continues to screen in St. Louis Park through Saturday evening, is comprised of more than 120 short and feature films. In recent years, TCFF organizers have prioritized the recruiting of more diverse films and directors to Minnesota; more than 60 percent of the 2019 TCFF program are titles directed or produced by female filmmakers.


Best Feature Film: Honey Boy, directed by Alma Har’el; Jojo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi; Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton; Marriage Story, directed by Noah Baumbach; Saint Frances, directed by Alex Thompson; Waves, directed by Trey Edward Shults.

Robert Byrd Best Documentary Film: A Perfect 14, directed by Giovanna Morales Vargas; Gay Chorus Deep South, directed by David Charles Rodrigues; Like Harvey Like Son, directed by Rudy Harris Jr.; The Truth About Marriage, directed by Roger Nygard; Well Groomed, directed by Rebecca Stern.

Best Short Film: Automaton, directed by Alex Reeves; Black Hat, directed by Phillip Guttmann; Grace, directed by Alexia Oldini; Master Servant, directed by Julie Koehnen; Our Transition, directed by Connor O’Keefe.

Thrilled that MASTER SERVANT (pictured above), the historical drama short I produced last year is among the nominees for Best Short!

Indie Vision Award for Breakthrough Achievement: 3 Day Weekend (Writer Wyatt McDill); The Field (Cinematographer Tate Bunker); Last Call (Director Gavin Michael Booth); Olympic Dreams (Writer Jeremy Teicher); Premature (Actress Zora Howard); The Protectors (Visual Effects Supervisor Ben Hughes)

Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedy Shorts Award: Be Right Back, directed by Michael Driscoll; The Do It Up Date, directed by Andrew Barchilon and Emily Ting; Fairy Tale, directed by Justin Schaack and Kristin Schaack.

2019 North Star Award For Excellence: Albert Magnoli, director of “Purple Rain”

Stay tuned for more TCFF reviews in the coming days!

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

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

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

The Chunta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Review by Holly Peterson

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

The Education of a Negro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Review by Jessie Zumeta

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

Daniel Weingarten + Zoe Kanters

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more TCFF reviews and interviews!



TCFF 2019 Documentary Reviews: Like Harvey Like Son + 8 Seasons of Art + Juice: How Electricity Explains The World

Documentaries always plays a big part of Twin Cities Film Fest and we’re all the better for it. It’s always fun to learn something new by watching an insightful, fascinating doc. There are a plethora of subject matters, from environmental sustainability (TCFF’s social justice cause this year), films about art/culture, and inspirational journey of a son and his father conquering the Appalachian Trail in record-breaking fashion.

Yours truly w/ Kelly Lamplear-Dash

Check out the reviews below, thanks to our doc reviewer Kelly Lamplear-Dash, an award-winning screenwriter known for producing documentary films on historical figures, like Isaac Asimov and John Berryman, and historical moments, like The Dinkytown Uprising.

For more film fest coverage, reviews and interviews, type TCFF2019 in the Search box for ALL of the posts we’ve done so far this year.

Like Harvey Like Son

Stunning first documentary feature from Rudy Harris Jr. As if the gorgeous landscape wasn’t enough, there is a wonderful unfolding of the lives of both Harvey Lewis Jr. and III. Being an amateur hiker that journeyed on a seven day hike, I appreciate the style he presented for Harvey’s quest to break the record running the Appalachian Trail. The way he interwove the personal revelations and reflections along Harvey’s path is reminiscent of the actual experience of being on the trail: you’re focused on the needs of the day, but then there’s something that brings back an old memory, or there’s a moment of thought that creates introspection, and, of course, simply enjoying the surroundings. He beautifully captures these interweaving moments in the way he edited the film.

My only criticism was the use of music was a little too much. I liked the choices of musical score; however, I felt it was a little too much. It seemed like there was never a moment to breathe and enjoy the ambient sound of the beautiful surroundings. I especially appreciated the comments by Harvey Lewis III about his definition of “success” from his quest. Is it defined by what society dictates, or what personally enriches us? Great reminder.

8 Seasons of Art: A Black Arts Story

Artivists. Twin Cities art activists share their art, poetry, and music, along with their personal stories of purpose and struggle in our community. Raw and edgy footage carries the tone for the critical dialogue that is at the heart of this documentary. Intentional imagery underscores the artistry and performances that were shared. It is a fantastic glimpse into the local black culture that isn’t always readily accessible. This film is a great platform to help these underserved voices be heard.

Juice: How Electricity Explains The World

Juice: How electricity explains the world (Oct. 18)

Thought provoking. I really consider myself educated on the issues of clean energy and energy conservation; however, this film brought up some engaging important global perspectives on energy use. What energy means in a broader sense of existence is a truly critical discussion. There is no easy answer or quick fix approach to this film. It is about broadening our concepts and realizing our interconnectedness over this issue. A great source for starting important conversations.

This film is a must see for everyone.

Stay tuned for more TCFF reviews and interviews!



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

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

Thursday, October 24

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motherless Brooklyn

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

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

Friday, October 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download 2019 TCFF Schedule Grid


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

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

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

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

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