By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
MSPIFF SCREENING LOCATIONS:
Historic State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
Bell Auditorium, U of M, University Avenue and 17th Street SE, Mpls.
Oak Street Cinema, 309 Oak St. SE, Mpls.
Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Ave. S., Mpls.
Crown Theatres' Block E 15, 600 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
ADMISSION PRICES & FESTIVAL PASSES:
Opening Night Screening and Gala: $12 ($10 Minnesota Film Arts members)
The Historic State Theatre Box Office requires an additional $2 fee for its Renovation Fund
Closing Night Screening and Gala: $10
($8 MFA members)
General admission: $8 ($7 seniors/students, $6 MFA members)
Gold Pass (admission to all films and events): $150 ($120 MFA members)
Ten-Film Discount Pass (admission to 10 films): $65 ($50 MFA members)
24-HOUR FESTIVAL HOTLINE: 612.331.3134
FESTIVAL WEB SITE:www.mnfilmarts.org/mspiff2004/
Note: The festival schedule is subject to change; call the hotline to confirm screenings.
THE MOVIE LOVERS
Film Freaks Dish in the Lobby, Critics Weigh in from the Couch, and One Local Latvian Takes a Shot at the Big Time. Everything's up for Grabs at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival.
Talking about a movie after you've seen it can be either a privilege or a burden depending on the movie, the person next to you, and the mood that the three parties combine to create. Perhaps only post-coital conversation is trickier, more delicate, more loaded than that after a screening--and not necessarily. (Talk about The Passion and you know what I mean.)
But at a film festival, discussion of every sort--idle chatter, pointed critique, random gossip, confession, compassion, complaint--is absolutely essential. The vertiginous experience of constant reeling--four or five films a day if you're doing it right, six if you're insane--naturally puts a premium on human interaction to keep the viewer somewhat stable. I don't imagine that anyone is crazy enough to try to see even half of the 130 films screening at six Twin Cities locations over the course of the two-week Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival--but I wouldn't blame you for trying. (To begin, check out the ticket and venue information above.)
Our own frenzied picks from the fest's first week can be found in the pages that follow (along with a profile of a Twin Cities-based documentarian). These reviews are part of the process by which all of us in the audience endeavor not only to get our own bearings on what we've seen, but to position the movies as well. Just as the old tree in the forest requires ears for its fall to make a sound, the new film at a festival demands our interpretation--our direction--in order to find its place in the world. Part of the unique appeal of a film festival, with its heightened potential for meaningful interactivity, is that it's where the audience member gets to act most like an artist. You've heard the proverbial word of mouth? Well, you create it when you see a brand new movie and tell your neighbor what you think.
At City Pages we decided to stage our own version of the lobby chat. We corralled five far-flung experts in the art of watching movies and discussing them--Bob Cowgill, Mark Peranson, B. Ruby Rich, Amy Taubin, and Matthew Wilder--and got them to talk. This roundtable discussion was unusual in at least two ways. First, it was less about the movies per se than about the process by which we come to see them--or don't. Second, it was a roundtable discussion that didn't take place around a table; matter of fact, a good portion of it didn't really take place at all.
Here's how it worked: The panelists answered our questions individually by e-mail, then convened in real time later via conference call to discuss the "conversation" that we'd created by compiling their responses. The new material generated by the hour-long phone chat was woven into the virtual one--and it's this re-edited version (!) that you'll find on p. 17. (Rest assured: No panelists were misquoted in the making of this feature.)
Those of us who've just finished spending another winter in front of the television set are quite familiar with this method of shuffling variously contrived material and presenting it as "reality." I'd venture to say that our virtual roundtable comes closer than Court TV to the real function of cinema, which is to gather bits and pieces of experience and put them together in a way that makes some particular sense of the world. Come to think of it, that's also the function of a film festival.
Editor's note: During the week of March 8, City Pages asked a quintet of critics and curators to discuss the weird wonder that is the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, and the ever-evolving role of film festivals in general. What follows is an edited rendition of some lively exchanges that took place by telephone and e-mail.
CITY PAGES:Let's start with the most basic question: What's the value of an international film festival?