BEST FILM - 2007
We've spilled plenty of ink on Ali Selim's period romance—the winningest indie ever made in Minnesota—since it debuted at the M-SPIFF a year ago. Suffice it to say that if you haven't seen it, well, you need to see it. Shot in southern Minnesota in 24 days (and based on author Will Weaver's "A Gravestone Made of Wheat"), Sweet Land is a love story: Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) and Olaf (Tim Guinee)—a German mail-order bride and her intended, a Norwegian immigrant farmer—slowly fall for one another while working on the land and against their community's prejudices in the wake of World War I. But it's equally the story of a filmmaker in love with his actors and his material. Selim's own tale in the past year has been one happy ending after another, including a $1.5 million box-office gross and an Independent Spirit Award. The latest is that the writer-director and his partners scored a huge DVD deal with Fox Home Entertainment, so Sweet Land will be available this summer in every mom-and-pop video store from coasts to cornfields—just as it should be.