The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival is now in full force. If you didn't get a chance to check out the festival last weekend, you've got until April 28 to get over to St. Anthony Main before it's over. Not only are there lots of great movies from around the world, the event also highlights homegrown filmmakers through its Minnesota Made series. Craig Rice, who curated the series this year, says he chose films with input from committees that weighed in on each of the different categories of film, using criteria such as story and technical quality.
The Minnesota film community is special, as there's such a "strong desire to make things that are really unique," Rice says. "You can literally walk outside, and in a half an hour you'd find half a dozen people to make a movie without getting paid."
The following is a short list of great Minnesota films at MSPIFF that you still have time to see. The first four are part of the Minnesota Made series, and the fifth is an MSPIFF special presentation.
Too Cold Out Here Without You tells the heart-wrenching story of Rev. Christopher Fike, a trans man who is a priest in the Episcopal church. He's a parent to two children, one who struggles with mental illness and another with a neurological condition. The film, by Amy Gattie, is both fascinating and emotional, and took five years to make (she began filming after Fike made his transition). It's a stunning portrait of Fike's journey, and how his family grapples with his decision. There's also an examination of trans discrimination, and the GLBTQ community both within the church and throughout society. Gattie captures the ways that Fike exists as an outsider (as a priest, as a secular social worker, and as a parent with children with special needs), even as his ministry reaches out to others who also don't conform to what is "normal." It screens on April 24 at 7:15 p.m.
Twin Cities theater lovers will probably recognize Jungle Theatre artistic director Bain Boehlke in Golden, a narrative short by Kjell Kvanbeck, which also features Boehlke's longtime collaborator Wendy Leher as his wife, who he finds dead on their 50th wedding anniversary. A film about memory, death, and love, Golden is a finalist for the American Gem Screenplay Competiton, and makes its premiere at MSPIFF on Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. as part of Minnesota Made Shorts: Narrative 2.
Minnesota Made curator Craig Rice says that Alma is one of his favorite films of the year. "It's the best performance of any of the actors," he says. "The woman that plays Alma is just wonderful in her part." The narrative short is about a woman who suspects her husband is trapped in an out-of-body experience, and reaches out to her estranged stepson for help. It screens on Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. as part of Minnesota Made Shorts: Narrative 2.
Marcel, King of Tervuren has already gotten lots of national buzz with a nomination for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival and rave reviews following its screening at SXSW. Rice says that there's a possibility that the film may also be eligible for an Academy Award. The animated short, by MCAD professor Tom Schroeder, is based on a Greek tragedy as acted by animated Belgian roosters. What more could you want? It's screening on Friday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. as part of Persistence of Vision with Minnesota Made Shorts: Animation.
Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking) By Phil Harder
While not technically part of the Minesota Made series, Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking) features the indie rock band Low, who hail from Duluth. There's lots of wonderful footage from Minnesota in this compilation of music videos created by the band and filmmaker Phil Harder. With almost no dialogue, the film isn't a documentary, but rather a musical ride that features the performers and the crazy ideas they thought up, including a person making snow angels on a frozen river right by a waterfall, playing music in a room with debris, balloons, and border crossings. It's a fun show, especially if you're a Low fan. The second screening is on April 20 at 9 p.m.
IF YOU GO:
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival April 11-28 St. Anthony Main Theatre Full schedules and ticketing options can be found online