As if you didn't already have enough trouble picking which screenings to attend at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, this year's event will be significantly bigger than last year's: nearly 140 films from more than 40 countries (not counting several short-film programs), compared to about 80 titles in 2007.
While that could make your moviegoing a little more complicated, another change will make it far easier. All the films this year will show at only three venues, with the vast majority at one location—the five screens at St. Anthony Main. For serious MSPIFF fans, that will save racing across town to catch tightly scheduled films and wondering about the dicey parking at neighborhood art houses.
Strawberry Shortcakes follows four
single women looking
for love in Tokyo;
it screens Friday at
7 p.m. and April 23
at 4:45 p.m. at
St. Anthony Main
This year, the documentaries are particularly strong, with 45 to 50 entries, says the festival's longtime program director and curmudgeonly cultural institution, Al Milgrom. "You've got the so-called new waves—new productions from Romania, Mexico. They've been getting a lot of international attention. This year we've got two docs from Bulgaria. We've got four films from the Czech Republic."
As with most film festivals, separating the four-stars from the one-stars is a bit of a crapshoot. To help you navigate the schedule, we offer a healthy sampling of some of the festival's best films starting on page 18. We also introduce you to several Minnesota filmmakers representing at the event, including one whose film is sure to be one of the most talked-about this year (page 15).
This year's robust lineup is all the more remarkable considering that only a few months ago, the 26th annual festival was in a precarious limbo.
"We didn't know if we were going to have enough money to pay bills to have a festival," says Milgrom.
The event was running a deficit, and there were reports that Minnesota Film Arts, the organization that oversees the film fest, could soon be selling its venerable Oak St. Cinema to help pay its debts.
But thanks to a last-minute push for festival sponsorships and other fundraising efforts, the festival will go on. "We hope to be able to come out in the black, which we usually do," Milgrom says.
And what about the future health of MSPIFF?
"The festival is there. It's never not been there," Milgrom says. "Will the sun rise tomorrow?"
MSPIFF SCREENING LOCATIONS
St. Anthony Main Cinema: 219 Main Street SE, Minneapolis; 612.331.4723
Oak Street Cinema: 309 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis; 612.331.3134