While the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival offers a huge range of art house films from all over the world, there's also a great selection of films by local filmmakers, providing an opportunity for them to showcase their work on the big screen. The festival has four different programs of Minnesota- made short films, a MN music video program, and a number of feature films by local filmmakers.
The premiere of Minnesota Shorts: Narratives on April 19 was nearly sold out, and the crowd had a chance to hear from almost all of the filmmakers about their movie making process. The program had a huge range of genres and styles, featuring a who's who of local actors and Twin Cities locations.
The standout film of the program was The Comeback by Patrick Coyle, about a man who returns to work after being absent. His co-workers don't know what to say to him and eye him uneasily until a janitor (played with incredible poignancy by Becca Flint, an artist from Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts) shows that she is not afraid and asks him what happened.
Another emotional ride is The Lucky One by Ann Prim, about a queer woman and her aunt driving to the home of her mother, who kicked her out years before. The actors show incredible range in this intense 11-minute film, and the ending is the kind that gives you a jolt in the gut.
Perhaps as a testament to Minnesota's strong literary tradition, there are not one but two short films in the program that are based on poetry. In Karl, director Scott Wenner creates a gorgeous animated piece set to a poem by Dag Straumsvåg. In The Last City in the East, Erik Hammen follows punk poet Paul D. Dickinson around University Avenue in St. Paul as the poet's raspy voice narrates. The movie doesn't have much of a plot, but it doesn't really matter. The film is beautifully shot in Super 8 and Holga, and it's fun to watch Paul D being himself while listening to his sharp-witted, imagery-rich wording.
The Minnesota Shorts: Narratives program offers two very funny and quirky film as well. Jerry Schwingle and the Happiness Well, by Sarah Jean Kruchowski follows the main character as he falls from ubercheer to despair in a super saturated and fun tale of enlightenment. Friday Night by Stephen Gurewitz is equally funny, painting the story of a first date gone wrong.
Hour of the Dark, by Jila Nikpay features this year's City Pages Local Girl Made Good Aditi Kapil, and shows the emotional experience of an Iranian woman living in exile learning about the violence that erupted in her country following the 2009 elections. Filled with metaphor, the short offers a powerful look at one woman's heartbreak over the turmoil of her home country.
Probably the least accessible film of the program is Good Morning, Beautiful, by Todd Cobery. Though many audience members seemed to enjoy the dark humor and grotesque aesthetic of Crobery's story of a man losing his grip of reality after the death of his daughter, it's not a movie for everyone. However, the actors are all quite good, particularly David Tufford as the main character and Catherine Campion, who plays his wife.
There's one more showing of Minnesota Shorts: Narratives on May 4 at 9:45 p.m. Other upcoming Minnesota Films in the festival include:
Minnesota Shorts: Music Videos: April 21 at 7 p.m.
Minnesota Shorts: Docs and Animation: April 26 at 7 p.m.
Minnesota Shorts: Emerging Filmmakers 2: April 30 at 2 p.m.
Solo 1X2 (Featuring local dance artists, by Minnesota-based Filmmaker Bob Hammel): Apr 28 at 7 p.m.
Au Pair, Kansas (by St. Paul-based Filmmaker JT O'Neal and starring porn-star-turned-actress Traci Lords (of Zach and Miri Make a Porno): Saturday, April 23 at 1:30 pm
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (By Minnesota-raised Filmmaker Chad Freidrichs): May 1 at 2 p.m.
Absence/Presence (by Jed Schlegelmilch, who lives in St. Louis Park): April 23 at 4 p.m
I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured (by Minneapolis-based Filmmaker Kiersten Dunbar Chace): April 27 at 7 p.m.