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

Wednesday, April 24, at 9:35 p.m.

Saturday, April 27, at 9:20 p.m.

Michael ten Horn's 2012 film tells the story of a quirky Dutch family playing host to a German exchange student who is too perfect. Eva (Vivian Dierickx) goes mostly unnoticed at home, but her parents and brothers start to pay attention with the arrival of blond-haired and beatific Veit (Rafael Gareisen). Soon everyone is engaged in doing something personally unexpected and life-changing, whether it's questioning sexual preference, seeking out inner bliss, sending money abroad through a dubious charity scheme, standing up to a bully, or coming of age. Ten Horn clearly owes a debt to Todd Solondz, Wes Anderson, and Pedro Almodovar, not to mention Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame, all directors known for creating and delving into characters whose lives are anything but typical. Much of Deflowering succeeds because the family is so completely and entertainingly flummoxed by Veit's presence, but the film is inconsistent. Some of the attempts at humor fall flat, and an undercurrent of viciousness goes only partially explored. It's as if ten Horn figured he could get by on quirkiness alone, which is hardly ever the case in even the most dysfunctional of family units, let alone films about them. —Caroline Palmer

Multiple Visions (The Crazy Machine)

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

Details

THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION
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: www.mspfilmfest.org

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Friday, April 19, at 9:50 p.m.

Saturday, April 20, at 3:45 p.m.

Mexico's Gabriel Figueroa is among the most revered directors of photography in film history. The late cinematographer (1907-97) worked in the media of light and shadow, specifically black-and-white film, with unprecedented skill. In this 2012 effort, director Emilio Maillé celebrates Figueroa in ways the artist might have appreciated the most — through compelling selections from his work and passionate interviews with colleagues and acolytes, all transformed by the range of visual subtleties available to directors of photography, thanks in significant part to Figueroa, whose work included collaborations with auteur giants like Luis Buñuel. This is a gem of a documentary for film buffs, but it will also appeal to other creative spirits who value the hard work and eye for perfection that goes into producing beautiful and timeless onscreen imagery. Viewers will learn more about cinematography than they can imagine in this enlightening feature about one man's impact on an entire genre of filmmaking. —Caroline Palmer

Augustine

Sunday, April 14, at 4:45 p.m.

Friday, April 19, at 4:20 p.m.

Dark, brooding, and sensual, Alice Winocour's tempest of gender-driven psychoanalytic power structures in late 19th-century France is a good counterpoint to David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method. Based on renowned neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon) and one of his patients diagnosed with "hysteria," Augustine carefully scrutinizes the progressive doctor's good intentions against his objectified and eroticized cache of female subjects. Augustine (played by French singer Soko) is a 19-year-old servant whose untimely seizure in front of guests lands her in a clinic, where her symptoms make her the star case for a star physician. Dr. Charcot's ambition in his field churns Augustine's desire for a cure into something of a romance, bound to fail on an analytical basis. Winocour, who had a hand in the script for Ursula Meier's stunning 2008 film Home, opens her debut film with an apt visual metaphor showing a crab attempting to escape a boiling pot of water. The creature probably never had a chance. —Kathie Smith

Purge

Monday, April 15, at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27, at 5 p.m.

Cranked up on an impressive amount of style, Finland's entry for Best Foreign Language Oscar draws parallel narrative lines across generations and between misogynistic compulsions of Estonia's past and present. Young Zana escapes from indentured prostitution, finding refuge, at least temporarily, with a hermitic, ax-wielding woman named Aliide. Through a series of flashbacks and revelatory conversations, their familial connections float to the surface, as do their analogous exploitations: Zana at the hands of human traffickers and Aliide under the tyranny of occupying Stalinist forces during WWII. But Aliide holds a darker secret of callow jealousy and betrayal warped and perverted by the oppression of war. Purge feels born of a gritty mold made successful by Niels Arden Oplev's original The Girl With the Dragoon Tattoo while unnecessarily matching its depictions of savage sexual violence. Director Antti Jokinen is efficient in melding this multilayered story but unfortunately treads water between making a white-knuckled thriller and an engaging historical drama, lacking the emotional catch and release that goes along with such taut subject matter. —Kathie Smith

Leviathan

Friday, April 12, at 2 p.m.

Sunday, April 14, at 9:40 p.m.

The title implies either a story about a giant fish or the end of the world. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel's documentary on the fishing industry is a mixture of both. Set aboard a fishing boat off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the film drops the audience into the grinding, groaning gears and crashing waves of a late-night fishing expedition. The intensity doesn't let up during the daytime, as we get a clearer look at the workers and their labor. The filmmakers focus on the mundane, moment-to-moment existence, sometimes lingering for minutes on end on a seagull looking for dinner amid the fish guts or the sad-eyed pilot staring intently at the blustering sea. It's like an episode of The World's Suckiest Jobs, except there are no comments from the workers to break up the experience. Instead, it is a parade of cut-off fish heads and decks awash in blood to illustrate this water-borne abattoir. By the end, the relentless shots of fish guts on a waterlogged deck become too much, leaving the viewer more bored than engaged. —Ed Huyck

Antiviral

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