TWIN CITIES FILM FEST announces 2020 Awards Finalists

Nomadland, Sound of Metal, Take Out Girl lead this year’s class of nominees; first-ever hybrid event continues to screen and stream through Saturday


St. Louis Park, MN (October 29, 2020) – The Twin Cities Film Fest, presented by VumaTV, unveiled more than 25 finalists for its top awards Thursday morning, many of which can still be streamed during the event’s final weekend. Among the 2020 contenders for the top Best Feature Film Award are Darius Marder’s electrifying drummer drama Sound of Metal, Hisonni Johnson’s gritty urban thriller Take Out Girl and Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, which follows the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. Winner of the 2020 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion and Toronto International Film Festival 2020 People’s Choice Award.

Frances McDormand in NOMADLAND

Nomadland screens Saturday evening as the official closing night film of TCFF 2020.

Other notable finalists this year include Lanie Zipoy’s The Subject, which stars Jason Biggs in a captivating performance as a white documentary filmmaker dealing with the fallout of a film that captured the murder of a Black teen on tape; Loira Limbal’s Through the Night, a verité documentary that goes inside the world of single mothers working multiple jobs and the 24-hour daycare centers helping them make ends meet; and Sonia Lowman’s Black Boys, which illuminates the reality facing Black males today through intimate, intergenerational conversations addressing such key issues as education, sports and criminal justice.

Actor Bill Murray is again 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.


2020 TCFF FINALISTS

Best Feature Film Award: Gossamer Folds, directed by Lisa Donato; Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao; Sound of Metal, directed by Darius Marder; The Subject, directed by Lanie Zipoy; and Take Out Girl, directed by Hisonni Johnson.

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Film Award: Black Boys, directed by Sonia Lowman; The Falconer, directed by Annie Kaempfer; Normie, directed by Kurt Neale; The Reunited States, directed by Ben Rekhi; and Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal.

Best Short Film Award: Dame, directed by Foster Wilson; Long Ride Home, directed by Dame Pierre; and Vision — Seeing Is Believing, directed by Mark Anderson.

TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Performance: Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal; Grace Kendall in Dame; Frances McDormand in Nomadland; Lili Taylor in Paper Spiders; and Hedy Wong in Take Out Girl.

Hedy Wong in ‘Take Out Girl’

TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Achievement: Hisonni Johnson and Alberto Triana for their cinematography in Take Out Girl; Abraham and Darius Marder for their screenplay of Sound of Metal; Adam Mervis for his direction of The Last Days of Capitalism; Ahamefule J. Oluo for his music and score in Thin Skin; Malika Zouhali-Worrall for her editing in Through the Night

 Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedy Shorts Award: Men Among Men, directed by Savannah Reich; Pappy Hour, directed by Nell Teare; and Sugar Blasters, directed by Sean A. Skinner.

The TCFF 2020 Changemaker Award: Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, for her work in advancing the cause of affordable living across the state


SPECIAL DEAL – 50% off – STREAMING PASS

Enjoy the final 3 day of TCFF for half price! 70+ Online Films Available Until October 31st.

Narratives, Documentaries, Short Films, Minnesota Connected Films
CODE: 2020TCFFpass50
To learn more about how to attend these screenings, please visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.


2020 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST SCHEDULE

In Theater Films:  ICON Theaters

(Only Available to Sponsors, Donors and Members – Reservation Required)

Friday Oct 30th
Herself,
Phyllida Lloyd – 6:30pm
Uncle Frank, Alan Ball – 8:30pm

Saturday Oct 31st
Nomadland
, Chloé Zhao – 6pm and 8:30pm

————————

Special Streaming Events on TCFF Website

Wednesday Oct 28th
Through The Night,
Loira Limbal – 7pm

Thursday Oct 29th
Women In Blue
, Deirdre Fishel – 7pm

Saturday Oct 31st
Black Boys
, Sonia Lowman – 5pm


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org


TCFF 2020 Reviews: The Sound of Metal

It was only my second time back inside a theater since March, but I caught one of the Twin Cities Film Fest in-person screenings yesterday. The Sound of Metal, a film distributed by Amazon Studios, is set to be released theatrically on November 20th, and will stream on Prime Video in December 2020. The film stars Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke as Ruben, a drummer and his girlfriend Lou, a singer in the punk metal band Blackgammon. They live in their airstream trailer between gigs and make a living while on tour of metal bands. Ruben, a former heroin addict and metal head, starts out in euphoria as he furiously jams out on his drums as Lou screams the lyrics to their songs. Soon thereafter, Reuben gets a slight ring in his ears, which turns into a full blown dull roar. It leaves him only able to hear all surrounding noises muffled beyond recognition.

The situation that Ruben and Lou are in leaves them no choice but to put their tour on hold as Ruben seeks help for his newly diagnosed hearing loss. When Lou leaves in a cab to catch a flight, Ruben heads to a deaf community, headed by the calm and cool Joe (Paul Raci), who tells Ruben that he reads lips. Joe, a former addict himself, also tells Ruben that he lost his hearing in Vietnam War but he insists that he and everyone living at the deaf community believe that their deafness is not a handicap, but rather a tool to build community around. Soon enough, Ruben is immersed in this deaf community and even learns sign language and makes friends with others around his age and even some deaf kids, who are supervised and taught in the classroom by Diane (Lauren Ridloff – a deaf actress who I remember with fondness from AMC’s post-apocalyptic series The Walking Dead).

Ruben is determined to return to “being inside the sound” and is found at odds with Joe, who is a religious man. Ruben, a self-proclaimed atheist, doesn’t understand when Joe tells him “those moments of stillness, that place, that’s the kingdom of God. And that place will never abandon you.” He acts on his desires and tries to reconnect with Lou, but by that time, his ability to grasp his life-altering change has completely changed the kind of person he is. Even when he is given the chance of some hearing, he is much more at peace and relishes the stillness of his new-found life. Riz Ahmed brings inspiration and passion to his performance, but his ability to showcase the character’s vulnerabilities make this portrayal very real and believable. Olivia Cooke brings a sense of loss to her character (we learn something about her mother in the movie) and how singing in a punk rock band helps her cope with her circumstances. Director Darius Marder also does a great job putting his audience in Ruben’s head, hearing — or not hearing — everything as it happens.

The film features closed captioning throughout the film which helps us as viewers understand everything happening from start to finish. I can see The Sound of Metal competing for some awards this year, especially for Riz Ahmed’s performance as the confounded punk metal band drummer. This film adds to a growing list of strong films from Amazon Studio that will have limited theatrical releases and also stream on Prime Video in late 2020 or early 2021, including other Twin Cities Film Fest titles Herself, Uncle Frank and Sylvie’s Love.


The 2020 Twin Cities Film Fest has ONE pass available for purchase that you won’t want to miss out on. The All Access STREAMING Pass will give you access to all of our 70 films for only $50, that’s less than $1 per movie! This pass can be used as many times as you would like during the 10 days of the festival (October 22nd-31st) on our streaming platform and website.


2020 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST SCHEDULE

(Only Available to Sponsors, Donors and Members – Reservation Required)

Friday Oct 30th
Herself,
Phyllida Lloyd – 6:30pm
Uncle Frank, Alan Ball – 8:30pm

Saturday Oct 31st
Nomadland
, Chloé Zhao – 6pm and 8:30pm


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org

TCFF 2020 Reviews: Gossamer Folds | The Father | Thank You 5

Twin Cities Film Fest officially kicks off today!!

For the 11th year, the film fest is going with a hybrid concept of online and in-theater screenings. There are 70 films that are available to stream during the fest, October 22nd-31st (scroll down below for more info).

Thanks to FC’s loyal contributor Vitali Gueron for these reviews!

GOSSAMER FOLDS

Lisa Donato follows up on the success of her first feature film Signature Move, which she co-wrote with Fawzia Mirza, with her feature length directorial debut of the indie film Gossamer Folds. This is smaller budget but very charming film, is set in the warm 1968 summer in a suburb in Kansas City, Missouri. The movie begins as we meet the Millikin family – the father Billy Millikin (Shane West), the mother Frannie Millikin (Sprague Grayden) and ten-year-old Tate Millikin (Jackson Robert Scott) – all trying to start a fresh life after a conflict-ridden past of city life behind them. They move into a small but quiet new home, which Tate isn’t a big fan of at first. Living next door to them is their transgender neighbor Gossamer (Alexandra Grey), who lives with her father Edward (Franklin Ojeda-Smith).

One day, while playing by himself in the front yard, Tate ends up meeting and befriending his new neighbor Gossamer, angering his father who calls Gossamer “the deviant next door.” It starts slowly, but sure enough Gossamer and Tate’s friendship starts to bloom as Tate’s own family dynamics fall apart. We learn that Billy was having an extramarital affair in the city before the family left for the suburbs. Unsurprisingly, Billy is quick to leave his wife Frannie and son Tate alone, while he goes to pursue his own desires. Thankfully, this leaves more time for Tate to spend with his new friend Gossamer, and not only does their friendship deepen but it also expands both of their horizons.

Gossamer shares with Tate that she has to deal with her own retired father, a former English professor, who is not only transphobic but also struggling to deal with Gossamer’s own sexual identity and freedoms. She has to deal with the constant fear of violence for the trans community, and even though she portrays a calm and cool manner, she is aware of these and other trans issues that are discussed in the movie. Tate’s ability to reject the hate that he’s been taught by his family and Gossamer’s ability to connect with others and accept them for who they are makes their friendship even stronger. Both Jackson Robert Scott (you might remember his as Georgie in the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s It) and Alexandra Gray (known from Amazon’s award-winning show Transparent and FOX’s hit drama Empire) are fantastic in their roles. Jackson is charming yet very level-headed and Alexandra is heartfelt, but also exudes strength and stability.

Gossamer Folds is one of those films that will embolden your will for acceptance of others, no matter what gender they identify with or whom they love. These issues are even more relevant today, with the current presidential election and ramifications of the judicial appointment to the Supreme Court.


THE FATHER

The Father is a very real and current story that can impact any one of us on a moment’s notice. Written and directed by Jonathan Oster and starring Kelechi Jaavaid and Lee Evans, The Father is a slow burn, but full of mystery and contemplation. The premise is basic and straightforward; suddenly having to cope with the trauma of the sudden death of his son, a father kidnaps and interrogates the man he knows is responsible. Kelechi Jaavaid is haunting and unnerving as the father, and Lee Evans is cold and unapologetic as a man who doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions.

It was fun to see many familiar places in the film, as it was shot in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of my favorite scenes comes towards the end, where the father is sitting on a street bench overlooking the Mississippi River, opposite downtown Minneapolis, on a snowy winter day. The father is joined there by someone who’s been on his mind during the entire movie. Who is that? Well, you’ll just have to watch The Father, streaming online during the 10 days of the 2020 Twin Cities Film Fest.


THANK YOU 5

Thank you 5, directed by Reid Estreicher and Michael Barnard, is a comedic movie but it felt more like watching a comedy improvisation troop. The Chicago-based actors including Meghan Murphy, Richard Kallus, Theo Koppel, Timmy Carroll, John T. O’Brien, Stevie Shale, Jason Amplo, Jodie Meis and the directors themselves Reid Estreicher and Michael Barnard.

The film begins on the first day of rehearsal for the production of ‘Prelude to a Tradition,’ an original work by playwright and director Kurt McAbbott. Each cast member has their own quirk, tick, and backstory. During the film, we follow the cast through their tech rehearsal, then their dress rehearsal and finally into the play’s opening night and after party.

Some of the actors obviously know each other and some are even in serious relationships together. Others are quick to pick fights with each other and/or with their play director. Each story is as unique as the unsung artists who endure so much, specifically each other, to create something memorable for audiences. My favorite scene comes towards the end, where one character forgets a fake gun in the dressing room, and has to run back to get it. She drops the blank bullets and doesn’t have time to load them before she’s due up on stage. What follows is a true comical moment that had me laughing out loud. To see this moment and others, you’ll just have to watch Thank you 5, streaming online during the 10 days of the 2020 Twin Cities Film Fest.


The 2020 Twin Cities Film Fest has ONE pass available for purchase that you won’t want to miss out on. The All Access STREAMING Pass will give you access to all of our 70 films for only $50, that’s less than $1 per movie! This pass can be used as many times as you would like during the 10 days of the festival (October 22nd-31st) on our streaming platform and website.


2020 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST SCHEDULE

(Only Available to Sponsors, Donors and Members – Reservation Required)

Thursday Oct 22nd
Black Boys,
Sonia Lowman – 6pm and 8pm

Friday Oct 23rd
Sound of Metal,
Darius Marder – 6pm and 8:45pm

Saturday Oct 24th
Sylvie’s Love,
Eugene Ashe – 6pm and 8:45pm

Friday Oct 30th
Herself,
Phyllida Lloyd – 6:30pm
Uncle Frank, Alan Ball – 8:30pm

Saturday Oct 31st
Nomadland
, Chloé Zhao – 6pm and 8:30pm


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST unveils 2020 lineup! 70+ Movies set to screen and stream online.

TCFF 2020

TORONTO STANDOUT NOMADLAND NAMED CLOSING NIGHT TITLE, CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED BLACK BOYS TO OPEN FEST OCT. 22

For first time ever, TCFF to showcase catalog of premieres, documentaries and Midwestern productions via hybrid model that includes physically-distanced screenings, live-stream exclusives as well as digital on-demand. 2020 program to include special series dedicated to technology, female filmmakers and BIPOC communities


Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 1, 2020) — The Twin Cities Film Fest, presented by VumaTV, announced its full 2020 film schedule Thursday, set to screen Oct. 22-31 via a ‘Hybrid’ format that will include online on-demand streaming through TwinCitiesFilmFest.org as well as select distanced screenings at the Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON Theatres at The Shops at West End. TCFF 2020 marks the organization’s 11th anniversary and arrives at a time where many visual arts organizations are struggling to stay open and continue providing their service of bringing communities together.

“There was never a doubt that TCFF was going to take place this year,” said Jatin Setia, TCFF’s Executive Director. “We know the positive impact that film arts, independent storytelling, and unique perspectives can have on the fabric of our culture and community.  We wanted to lean into the opportunities and hit ‘fast forward’ on what our organization could bring to the wider arts conversation during this most difficult year. I’m so proud of my team and our supporters in making sure that TCFF not only happens this unprecedented year, but it leaps forward and innovates new ways to bring a cinematic community together to share a vision — and a conversation.”

The festival opens Oct. 22 with the acclaimed documentary Black Boys, an intimate, inter-generational story that offers profound insight into black identity and opportunity at the nexus of sports, education and criminal justice. Director Sonia Lowman will appear in a pre-recorded conversation.

This year’s closing night selection is NomadlandChloe Zhao’s festival award-winning drama starring Frances McDormand as a displaced widow who chooses a nomadic lifestyle. The film won the coveted people’s choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival, instantly catapulting it into the Oscar conversation.


Editor (Ruth’s note): I’m beyond thrilled that NOMADLAND is one of TCFF’s lineup this year!! That’s the one film I’ve been hugely anticipating, as I absolutely loved Zhao’s sophomore feature The Rider.

Nomadland‘s synopsis: Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. Here’s the teaser:


Other notable 2020 selections: Sound of MetalDarius Marder’s directorial debut, which features a powerful performance from actor, rapper, and activist Riz Ahmed;

Sylvie’s LoveEugene Ashe’s new Harlem romance starring Tessa Thompson;

and Uncle Franka comedy by Alan Ball, the writer of American Beauty, True Blood and Six Feet Under, featuring an all-star cast including Paul Bettany, Steve Zahn and Sophia Lillis.

The majority of this year’s festival selections will be available via the TCFF STREAMS platform at TwinCitiesFilmFest.org, a new TCFF initiative that launched earlier this year to give a platform to MN Connected filmmakers.  The online platform will feature premieres of award winning narratives, documentaries and shorts curated from all across the country.  Several notable film categories include TECH Series, HER Series, MN Connected films, and the newly launched EMPOWER Series focused on BIPOC stories and storytellers.

Every year, the Twin Cities Film Fest identifies a Social Justice Cause and programs a special series of films to call attention to a specific social issue. This year’s cause is “affordable living” and the film series includes stories spotlighting housing, healthcare, childcare and eldercare.  Through the generosity of local companies (Spire Credit Union, Dominium Apartments, City of St. Louis Park and AARP Minnesota), all films in the Changemaker Series will be presented free to all viewers. Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is being presented with the 2020 TCFF Changemaker Award at the festivals’ Virtual Gala (Oct 2nd – 4th)  in recognition of her work towards affordability.


TCFF’s complete 2020 schedule is listed below.  Tickets are on-sale starting tomorrow, Oct 2nd. All of the In-Person theater screenings at the ICON Theaters will be reserved for TCFF Donors, Members and Sponsors on a first come first served limited capacity.  To learn more about how to attend these screenings, please visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.

For all of the ONLINE films, simply check out the lineup on the website and purchase the films.  All films will be available for purchase for $9/film with a few offered for free.

An ‘All Access STREAMING Pass’ is also available for $50 on the website providing access to ALL of the 70+ films online. Click on the banner above to purchase.

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


2020 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST SCHEDULE

In Theater Films:  ICON Theaters

(Only Available to Sponsors, Donors and Members – Reservation Required)

Thursday Oct 22nd
Black Boys,
Sonia Lowman – 6pm and 8pm

Friday Oct 23rd
Sound of Metal,
Darius Marder – 6pm and 8:45pm

Saturday Oct 24th
Sylvie’s Love,
Eugene Ashe – 6pm and 8:45pm

Friday Oct 30th
Herself,
Phyllida Lloyd – 6:30pm
Uncle Frank, Alan Ball – 8:30pm

Saturday Oct 31st
Nomadland
, Chloé Zhao – 6pm and 8:30pm

————————

Special Streaming Events on TCFF Website

Sunday Oct 25th
Inside Lets Deal Live
, Steve Zahn/Rick Gomez – 5:30pm
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, Jennifer Abbott/Joel Bakan – 7pm

Monday Oct 26th
Definition Please,
Sujata Day – 7pm

Tuesday Oct 27th
Hollywood Fringe,
Megan Huber, Wyatt McDill – 7pm

Wednesday Oct 28th
Through The Night,
Loira Limbal – 7pm

Thursday Oct 29th
Women In Blue
, Deirdre Fishel – 7pm

Saturday Oct 31st
Black Boys
, Sonia Lowman – 5pm


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org


So yeah, TCFF 2020. BRING. IT ON!

Cheers Virtual Cinema! Minnesota Film Festivals go online

In this strange and difficult times, it’s particularly tough for movie fans everywhere as movie theaters are closed and new movies are being delayed as we’re all in lockdown mode. But hey, I just thought how we should still be grateful we live in the age of the internet! Imagine if this happened in a time where there’s no online content to help us cope and escape from our every day life… I mean Coronavirus or not, I honestly can’t imagine life without having internet access!

The MSPIFF tag line for this year’s fest is ​Adjust Your View… I can’t imagine whoever came up with that has a crystal ball to predict that we’ll be in this um, predicament. Nor would that person realize how fitting that tagline as the audience is called to adjust our view as to how to experience a film festival. Per this MNDaily article, The MSP Film Society’s Virtual Cinema Collection platform, which went live March 20, offers access to what programming director Jesse Bishop calls “festival-style content.” It will be open 1-3 new movies every Friday, with most films running for at least two weeks. Ticket prices range from $10 to $12, and films are available for viewing anywhere from 48 hours to a few days after purchase, depending on the film. Here are just a small sampling of the lineup…

BALLOON

A thriller-like true story of one of the most spectacular escapes of the 20th Century.

With a theatrical release to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Germany’s reunification, Balloon is based on the true events of one of the most daring escapes of the Cold War in which two families living in Communist East Germany sailed over the heavily fortified border in a homemade hot-air balloon.


THE ROADS NOT TAKEN

Now this one is by an acclaimed female director with a star-studded cast!

Sally Potter’s The Roads Not Taken follows a day in the life of Leo (Javier Bardem) and his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning) as she grapples with the challenges of her father’s chaotic mind. While they weave their way through New York City, Leo’s journey takes on a hallucinatory quality as he floats through alternate lives he could have lived, leading Molly to wrestle with her own path as she considers her future. Also starring Salma Hayek and Laura Linney.

 


The Etruscan Smile will be ready for home viewing starting tomorrow. I love Brian Cox, so definitely intrigued by this.

The Etruscan Smile stars Brian Cox (HBO’s Succession and recent Broadway leading man in The Great Society) as Rory MacNeil, a rugged old Scotsman who reluctantly leaves his beloved isolated Hebridean island and travels to San Francisco to seek medical treatment. Moving in with his estranged son, Rory’s life will be transformed, just when he expects it least, through a newly found love for his baby grandson.


MSPIFF isn’t the only MN film festival that offers online programming. Twin Cities Film Fest also launched its own independent movie streaming platform, called TCFF Streams, on April 6. Not only would the platform offer thought provoking and entertaining American independent storytelling content, it will also spotlight past TCFF films and filmmakers, alongside other award winning content from across the country. Best of all, TCFF will revenue share with our artists!

Check out some of the best indie docs, feature films and shorts that have screened at TCFF. Even as we’re self-quarantining amidst state-mandated lockdown, we can still support local non-profit organizations AND the filmmakers that made the films!


What are YOUR thoughts about film festivals going virtual?