The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

A filmmaker from Minnesota tells the story behind a lost animated masterpiece, plus hits and misses of the fest by our critics

Friday, April 12, at 2:15 p.m.

Thursday, April 25, at 6 p.m.

The lure and glamor of stardom is on full display in Jana Bucka and Marek Sulik's documentary Bells of Happiness. Mariena and Roman are two cousins living in a small Roma community in eastern Slovakia. She is preparing to give birth; he spends days sifting through the junkyard. They are united by their love for singers Karel Gott and Dara Rollins; they scour magazines looking for stories and gather the family around the television to watch them sing. Inspired to reach out, the cousins begin recording video messages to their idols. They even record a cover of Gott and Rollins's song "Bells of Happiness" and film a makeshift music video spotlighting their community. They would rather express their adoration than dwell on their daily hardships, which makes the glimpses into their struggles all the more affecting. Bucka and Sulik deftly balance video messages and behind-the-scenes footage of the music video with financial challenges and struggles with the neighbors. Idolizing celebrities is hardly new ground for audiences anywhere, but this is a lot more sincere than the adorations of Beliebers or Twihards. Their love becomes a goal, a meeting to strive for. For Mariena and Roman, the music and glamour is their escape from daily life. And in that, their story is universal. —Andrew Newman

Canned Dreams

Animator Richard Williams worked on his epic feature for nearly 30 years but never got the chance to complete it
Animator Richard Williams worked on his epic feature for nearly 30 years but never got the chance to complete it


screens Friday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m.
at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

Festival Facts: Dates: April 11-28 Location: St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 Main St. SE, Minneapolis Admission: $12 ($6 for kids 12 and under). Visit the MSPIFF website for prices on opening- and closing-night films and multiple-show packages. More info:

Tuesday, April 23, at 5:15 p.m.

Sunday, April 28, at 3:45 p.m.

This 2012 Finnish film from director Katja Gauriloff traces the international processing effort behind creating a can of ravioli. It's fascinating and horrific. Eight countries are involved — Brazil (metal), Denmark (pork), Portugal (tomatoes), Poland (beef), France (eggs and factory production), Ukraine (wheat), Italy (olive oil), and Romania (pork) — before the product ends up in one of Finland's grocery stores. Gauriloff interweaves her documentation with the personal stories of workers in each location, and while individual experiences differ, each holds in common hopes and missed opportunities. Gauriloff allows the lens to linger on the worn faces of her subjects and observes them over the course of a day on the job. This is an intentionally jarring film. Specifically, austere spaces with workers clothed in white are splattered with the blood of the animals slaughtered with mechanical efficiency. It's difficult to watch the streamlining of death, and not all viewers will be able to witness these scenes. But as a commentary on the impact of globalization on food sources, Canned Dreams is quite masterful. Gauriloff's perspective is necessary and bold. Expect loss of appetite by the time the credits roll. —Caroline Palmer

Eddie: The Sleeping Cannibal

Friday, April 12, at 11:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24, at 10 p.m.

Carnage breeds creativity for Lars (Keep the Lights On's Thure Lindhardt), a former up-and-coming painter who finds himself back at the easel after relocating to teach at a remote, snowbound art school, where he befriends a mute flesh-eater. Eddie's (Dylan Scott Smith) nocturnal dining on animals and humans is the spark that reignites Lars's moribund career. Writer-director Boris Rodriguez's satire about artistic inspiration posits Eddie's carnivorous behavior as a catalyst for awakening the deep, dark urges lurking inside Lars, whose arrival in town is marked by his running over a deer and then (to end its misery, or so he says) bludgeoning it to death with a rock. Lars's new works earn money for the down-on-its-luck school, but the duo's twisted relationship — Lars cares for Eddie, while also bringing him to victims and covering up his crimes — is soon complicated by Lars's romance with a fellow teacher (Georgina Reilly) and the suspicions of a local cop (Paul Braunstein). But it's Stephen McHattie's greedy agent — and a final note in which Eddie becomes muse to another — that hammers home the film's depiction of the art world as fueled by rapacious, kill-or-be-killed bloodlust. —Nick Schager

Finnish Blood, Swedish Heart

Thursday, April 18, at 7:15 p.m.

Saturday, April 20, at 1 p.m.

Part road movie, part music video, this documentary dives headfirst into the very personal epigram of Finnish immigration into Sweden and emerges with a surprisingly unique distillation of a father-son relationship. Kai Latvalehto is a middle-aged member of Finnish rock group Aknestik, who has made a living on a certain amount of Finnish fist pumping. But having spent the majority of his youth in Sweden, he feels torn between the two cultures. Searching for his roots, or at least some answers to his restlessness, Kai sets out on a journey with his father to Gothenberg, Sweden. The film is shot with disarming intimacy, and director Mika Ronkainen supplements the action with songs that speak to the themes of the film, performed by bands in ambient roadside settings. The topics cultivated in Finnish Blood, Swedish Heart are most certainly specialized to a fault for international audiences, but the unflappable sincerity of this father-son road therapy is as universal as it gets. —Kathie Smith

Electrick Children

Friday, April 26, at 2:45 p.m.

Sunday, April 28, at 9:20 p.m.

Electrick Children casts Julia Garner as a guileless teen who flees her parents' fundamentalist Christian sect and heads to Las Vegas because she believes God has impregnated her via a cassette tape of "Hanging on the Telephone." (Who knew the power in "power pop" was divine?) When you're dealing with that level of quirk, there's a fine line between charming and unbearable. Fortunately, director Rebecca Thomas keeps on the right side of that line, crafting an odd, amiable, teen-friendly story that recalls the adventurous spirit of the '90s indie film boom. Garner provides a sturdy anchor, capturing a difficult blend of boldness and naiveté that elevates the film's occasional slips into predictability and helps sell its magical realist flourishes. The beautifully shot landscapes of Utah and Nevada provide an appropriately ethereal backdrop to a story that's not afraid to ask its audience to take some leaps of faith. In a jaded era of entertainment, it's refreshing to see a film that believes in — even depends on — miracles. —Ira Brooker


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