This is the second year that the film festival formerly known as Rivertown has been called the Mpls./St. Paul International Film Festival, but it's pretty much the same as it's been for over a decade: a catch-as-catch-can affair, at once thrillingly expansive and frustratingly uneven, which somehow comes together at the 12th hour touting enough must-sees and worthy obscurities to satisfy both cineastes and the sneak-preview crowd. As a two-and-a-half-week, truly international showcase (representing more than 90 features from 40 countries this year), it's our own Cannes. And given the currently xenophobic state of local "art-film" exhibition, it's essential.
The following reviews cover only a handful of notable titles from the fest's first week--not counting, for instance, an unscreened and controversial new Godard (For Ever Mozart), a Cuban road movie by the directors of Strawberry and Chocolate (Guantanamera), a Hungarian doc about Elie Wiesel (To Speak the Unspeakable), a teen sex melodrama set in Minneapolis (Childhood's End), the biggest moneymaker last year in Sweden (The Hunters), and who knows what you'll discover on your own.