AND THE WINNERS OF TWIN CITIES FILM FEST 2018 ARE…

 

Following accolades in Toronto, Peter Farrelly’s drama GREEN BOOK tops TCFF’s 2018 winners. Twin Cities audiences honor local productions “The Lumber Baron” & “Small Town ROBOT” alongside the electrifying documentary “United Skates”

 The Twin Cities Film Fest announced its 2018 award winners Saturday evening, recognizing films in ten top categories. The 11-day marathon of movies, educational sessions and industry events, which showcased more than 130 titles and facilitated a broader conversation around the social cause of animal welfare, named Peter Farrelly’s Green Book the year’s Best Feature Film.

When Jeff Tried to Save the World, a lighthearted drama that served as the official 2018 centerpiece, was one of the year’s most honored titles, named as a finalist in three separate categories (Best Feature Film, Indie Vision Breakthrough Performance, Indie Vision Debut Director). Star Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) walked away with the year’s top performance award.

The festival’s top non-fiction award went to Who Will Write Our History? Roberta Grossman’s harrowing account of the journalists, scholars and community leaders in the Warsaw Ghetto who risked everything to secretly document the daily atrocities committed against their Jewish neighbors. The film screened in partnership with the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival.

The 2018 Audience Awards went to Barry Andersson’s The Lumber Baron, a period drama about the heir to a failing lumber business and the enduring rumors of a treasure left behind by his grandfather; Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler’s “United Skates,” a documentary about the art, economics and underground subculture of American roller skating; and “small town ROBOT,” a locally-produced short film about the acclaimed robotics team at Greenbush Middle River High School and their journey to a world championship to compete against 300 other teams from around the world.

Director Mark Taylor took home the Indie Vision — Debut Director trophy, for his drama Saving Flora, which had its U.S. premiere at the festival last week. Starring Jenna Ortega, David Arquette and Tom Arnold, the film’s story of one girl’s unbreakable bond with an elephant, and her mission to save the kind creature, marked the highlight of this year’s TCFF Changemaker Series. Several of the leading stars were in town to celebrate the debut.

“One of this year’s unforgettable highlights was ‘Saving Flora,’” said TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia. “The passion of that filmmaking, the broader mission behind its story, and the electricity that was on full display that night in the movie theater, between the audience and the advocates and the visiting filmmakers….that’s everything that makes a film festival special. It’s not just watching a movie — it’s being part of a transcendent experience. It changes you as a person.”

Minnesota filmmaker C.J. Renner was honored with the Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement award for his direction of American Tender, a widely praised drama about a robbery, a double-cross and one memorable first date.

“C.J. Renner exemplifies the talent, commitment and energy to be found in the Minnesota filmmaking community,” said TCFF Managing Director Bill Cooper. “And ‘American Tender’ is exactly the kind of homegrown independent project that we’re so proud to celebrate and showcase here at TCFF. C.J. always surprises us, he’s going places, and we’re so thrilled that so many smart filmgoers from across the country discovered his talent right here at the festival this year.”

The 2018 Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award went to Matt Hirst’s hilarious 12 Sips to Glory, about one man’s epic orange soda taste test.

Here’s the complete listing of 2018 award winners:

2018 Award Winners

Best Feature Film: “Green Book,” directed by Peter Farrelly

Click image to read FlixChatter’s review

Best Documentary: “Who Will Write Our History?” directed by Roberta Grossman

Best Short Film: “Claire Means Well,” directed by Aaron Gervich

Audience Award, Feature: “The Lumber Baron,” directed by Barry Andersson (Runner-Up: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” directed by Barry Jenkins)

Audience Award, Non-Fiction: “United Skates,” directed by Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler (Runner-Up: “93Queen,” directed by Paula Eiselt)

Audience Award, Short Film: “small town ROBOT,” directed by Joe Brandmeier (Runner-Up: “Claire Means Well,” directed by Aaron Gervich)

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Jon Heder (“When Jeff Tried to Save the World”)

Indie Vision — Debut Director: Mark Taylor (“Saving Flora”)

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement: C.J. Renner (director of “American Tender”)

Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: “12 Sips to Glory,” directed by Matt Hirst

TCFF 2018 Changemaker Award: Rachel Mairose, founder and executive director of Secondhand Hounds


CONGRATS to all the winners!!


Stay tuned to my TCFF recap post (with my own picks of FlixChatter favorites) as well as more reviews + interviews from some films screened at the film fest!

….

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST ANNOUNCES 2018 AWARDS FINALISTS!

Festival hits ‘Green Book,’ ‘United Skates,’ ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’, ‘Boy Erased’ and ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ lead this year’s class

The Twin Cities Film Fest unveiled more than 30 finalists for top awards Thursday. Among the top contenders for Best Feature Film are the new Barry Jenkins drama “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” which recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and two lauded Minnesota productions: Barry Andersson’s “The Lumber Baron” and David Buchanan’s “Black.” Limited tickets remain available for “Beale Street’s” Saturday debut.

UNITED SKATES

Other notable 2018 finalists include Joel Edgerton’s harrowing drama “Boy Erased” and Marielle Heller’s thriller “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, both nominated for this year’s Indie Vision Award for breakthrough performance, recognizing Lucas Hedges and Melissa McCarthy respectively. (The festival has announced special encore screenings of both films this weekend).

Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler’s documentary “United Skates,” selected as this year’s closing night film, received two nominations — for Best Documentary and Indie Vision Special Achievement, recognizing Tina Brown, Matthew Peterson and Dyana Winkler’s electrifying cinematography. United Skates is playing Saturday night at 7:30PM | GET TICKETS »

Rounding out this year’s Best Feature Film nominees were Kendall Goldberg’s comedy “When Jeff Tried to Save the World,” which also received nods for director Kendall Goldberg and lead actor Jon Heder, and Ben Zuckert’s drama “Noah Wise,” which received a second nomination for musical score.

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 130 short and feature films. In addition to staff and audience awards, this year’s Changemaker Award is being bestowed to Rachel Mairose, founder and executive director of the animal rescue nonprofit Secondhand Hounds.

See the complete list of finalists below; for more information on the films and to purchase reserved seats for the final screenings, visit TwinCitiesFilmFest.org.

2018 TCFF FINALISTS

Best Feature Film:

“If Beale Street Could Talk,” directed by Barry Jenkins; “Black,” directed by David Buchanan; “Green Book,” directed by Peter Farrelly (read FlixChatter’s review here); “The Lumber Baron,” directed by Barry Andersson; “Noah Wise,” directed by Ben Zuckert; “When Jeff Tried to Save the World,” directed by Kendall Goldberg.

Best Documentary:

“93Queen,” directed by Paula Eiselt; “Finding Hygge,” directed by Rocky Walls; “Fire on the Hill,” directed by Brett Fallentine; “Time for Ilhan,” (read FlixChatter’s review here) directed by Norah Shapiro; “United Skates,” directed by Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler; “Who Will Write Our History?” directed by Roberta Grossman.

Best Short Film:

“The American Wake,” directed by Kevin Quinn; “12 Sips to Glory,” directed by Matt Hirst; “Claire Means Well,” directed by Aaron Gervich; “Lunch Ladies,” directed by J.M. Logan; “Two Black Coffees,” directed by Michael Discoll (check out my interview with Michael about the film here); “Sexpert Franzen,” directed by Kaitlyn Busbee.

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance:

Adam Christian Clark (“Newly Single”); Jon Heder (“When Jeff Tried to Save the World”); Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”); Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”); Toussaint Morrison (“Black”); Sophia Mitri Schloss (“Sadie”).

Indie Vision — Debut Director:

Erik Bloomquist (“Long Lost”); Kendall Goldberg (“When Jeff Tried to Save the World”); Jenna Laurenzo (“Lez Bomb”); James Ojala (“Strange Nature”); Mark Taylor (“Saving Flora”); Kulap Vilaysack (“Origin Story”).

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement:

Sam Boyd (screenplay for “In a Relationship”); Tina Brown, Matthew Peterson and Dyana Winkler (cinematography for “United Skates”); Roxanne Paukner (art direction for “The Lumber Baron”); Vanessa Powers (animation for “Witch”); C.J. Renner (director of “American Tender”); Ben Zuckert (composer of “Noah Wise”).

Comedic Shorts Award:

“12 Sips to Glory;” “Deep Dish Apocalypse;” “Lunch Ladies.”

2018 TCFF Changemaker Award:

Rachel Mairose, founder and executive director of Secondhand Hounds.


CONGRATS to all the nominees!!

Be sure to attend the Closing Night Party on SATURDAY NIGHT at TCFF’s Can Can Wonderlounge!

2018 TCFF Red Carpet Interview + Review of ‘When Jeff Tried to Save the World’

Wow, can’t believe we’ve pretty much the halfway point of TCFF already! But hey, there are still five more days of film festivities… great movies to see, film stuff to learn and more filmmakers to meet!

Well, one of the highlights of TCFF coverage happened on Friday night, just before the festive INDUSTRY NIGHT began at the TCFF Can Can Wonder-Lounge. My dear friend and longtime FlixChatter contributor Holly Peterson was FC’s media correspondent for the night! She interviewed filmmaker Kendall Goldberg & actor Jon Heder (remember Napoleon Dynamite back in 2014?) about their new film When Jeff Tried to Save the World on the red carpet!


Here are some pics from Day 3 of TCFF – including INDUSTRY NIGHT

 

TCFF Lounge is sponsored by the fabulous Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul, MN.


When Jeff Tried to Save the World

It’s weird to call a movie about a grown man a coming of age film, but in a lot of ways, When Jeff Tried to Save the World feels like exactly that. Jeff (played very charmingly by Jon Heder) is a bowling alley manager who must come to terms with his future when the owner decides to sell the bowling alley. The stress of losing the one steady thing in his life is exacerbated by his sister’s unannounced visit – which might just wind up being exactly what he needed.

This is a fun movie. The writing is full of one-liners that had our entire theater giggling constantly. Steve Berg, Maya Erskine, and Brendan Meyer all had especially fun roles, which all three of them leaned into really well. Jim O’Heir was very miscast as the jerk owner who is closing down the bowling alley. There is too much Jerry Gergich in that man’s face for him to play the villain – no matter how tame that villain may be.

Taos Whittaker created some amazing visual effects for this film, which are most brilliantly showcased in one of Jeff’s dreams when he’s suddenly walking through a Tron themed version of the bowling alley. It is absolutely gorgeous. Whittaker also played a huge role in creating the underlying tone of anxiety in several scenes with nifty tricks like turning Heder’s hands yellow.

Personally, I disliked the romantic side-story. It was a little too “man and woman who have never met before cannot exist in the same room without falling in love for no reason” and, although it fit in with the general coming of age theme of the movie, it felt forced.

This is one of Kendall Goldberg’s first features, and it is a solid first. Goldberg has a strong comedic voice and the ability to reinvent an old trope in a new, relevant way. I think that as Goldberg grows as a storyteller the less neat elements (the fact that she caved in on that unnecessarily romantic side-story, the neat summary three quarters of the way through the movie that took place in a completely unnecessary argument, and her tendency to approach sentimental moments in the most conventional way possible) will likely improve as she continues to write and direct and is increasingly able to use her own voice. I’m excited to see what she makes next.


Thanks Holly for the review and interview,
and for TCFF + Allied Global Marketing for the opportunity!

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST announces a star-studded 2018 lineup!

TCFF announces a diverse and inspiring lineup of films for their 2018 festival, to be held October 17-27 at Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON Theatres at The Shops at West End with ICON•X. Coming off of a successful September Gala that honored Steve Zahn with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Rachel Mairose from Secondhand Hounds with the Changemaker Award, this year’s festival will officially open their ninth year with Peter Farrelly’s Green Book (November 21, Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures).

When Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Confronted with racism, danger—as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.

Green Book recently won the Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted People’s Choice Award this past week! Producer Jim Burke, Academy Award nominee for “The Descendants,” will be attending.

Opening night festivities will also include a screening of Time for Ilhan, a documentary about State Representative and Federal House candidate, Ilhan Omar, who will be in attendance along with director Norah Shapiro and cinematographer Chris Newberry.

The Centerpiece Highlight on Friday, October 19 is the Newport Beach Film Festival hit comedy When Jeff Tried to Save the World starring Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite). Heder and director Kendall Goldberg will be in attendance. United Skates, a documentary about roller skating and a community’s battle to save an underground subculture will close out the festival on October 27, with producer and Minnesota native Tiffany Fisher-Love in attendance.

Other visiting guests this year include David Arquette and Tom Arnold with the U.S. premiere of Saving Flora, the story of a 14-year-old girl who kidnaps an elephant from a circus to take it to a nature reserve, screening on October 22. Chef Andrew Zimmern will also be in attendance on Thursday, October 25 for the Midwest premiere of Chef Flynn, a documentary about a ten-year-old who transformed his living room into a supper club and achieved sudden fame.

TCFF is also thrilled to feature Widows (20th Century Fox) a modern-day thriller from Steve McQueen starring Viola Davis and Liam Neeson, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight Pictures) starring Melissa McCarthy, Boy Erased (Focus Features) starring Joel Edgerton and Nicole Kidman and The Favourite (Fox Searchlight Pictures) starring Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

In addition to their regular programming this year, TCFF is pleased to collaborate with the Jewish Film Festival and the Northstar Science Film Festival, showing a slate of thought provoking films while launching a brand new initiative, TCFF Tech. TCFF Tech is a one-of-a-kind 3-day event spotlighting the impact of technology on social issues, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

I’ll post the complete schedule later with some of my most-anticipated selections!

Tickets are on-sale this weekend for TCFF Members and will be open to the public next week beginning Friday, September 28th, 2018. Ticket prices are $12 for General Admission & $20 for Gala Tickets.

Festival Passes can also be purchased as follows: Silver Pass – $50 (5 pack of non-Gala tickets); Gold Pass – $80 (10 pack of non-Gala tickets); Platinum Pass – $120 (12 pack of non-Gala tickets + 2 Gala tickets); Gala Pass – $100 (6 tickets to any Gala Film); and the All Access Pass – $500 (Guaranteed seat in premiere row at ANY screening +more!).


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

 


Oh and as if great films aren’t enough for the 11-day festivities, check out the amazing lineup of FREE EDUCATIONAL events!!


So yeah, TCFF 2018 can’t come soon enough!