BEST FILM FESTIVAL (1998)

No contest whatsoever, which is why its survival remains of the utmost importance. In the three years since U Film Society's Al Milgrom stopped referring to his annual workaholic binge as the Rivertown Film Festival, it has stayed the same as it ever was: an expansive, unruly, catch-as-catch-can affair that somehow comes together at the 12th hour touting enough belated must-sees and worthy obscurities to attract both cineastes and the sneak-preview crowd alike. As a truly global festival, it's our own Cannes, and given the currently xenophobic state of local "art-film" exhibition, it's essential. But neither could we live without the runners-up: Asian Media Access's Chinese Film Showcase, U Film's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Film Festival, Walker Art Center's Women in the Director's Chair series, the Twin Cities Black Film Project's Twin Cities Black Film Festival, and Red Eye Cinema's Distributor Free Weekend.