The largest film festival in the Upper Midwest is well underway at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in NE Minneapolis. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival runs from April 12th – May 3rd this year, featuring 300+ full length films and shorts from over 60 countries. The festival has gained quite the reputation over its three-decade span for showcasing alternative and independent cinema from the US and abroad.
The festival features a MINNESOTA Made category, in which to qualify, the director must have been born here, live here currently, or the film must be set in Minnesota. MINNESOTA Made program director, Tom DeBiaso, said the collection of films "…represent a notable depth of talent and range of interesting topics being pursued by our filmmaking community." Of the Minnesota collection, I look forward to seeing Marvin Seth and Stanley the most. A family vacation to northern Minnesota is an event most Minnesotan's can relate to, complete with all the bickering and squabbles, but director Steven Gurewitz saw the humor in our traditions, like our unrelenting attempts to live off the land and the polka nights at the American Legion. Showtime: Friday April 27th, 7:00p
Holiday Beach, a film directed by Minnesota native Steve Larson, is set in a remote Alaskan coast U.S. Navy base during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Larson keeps you at the edge of your seat as the psychopathic nature of one soldier is revealed and the welfare the others becomes ever more indefinite. The film is inspired by true events. Showtime: Friday April 20th, 7:00p
Minnesotan's also hold on to their Scandinavian heritage, so Scandinavian films often feature largely at the festival. This year, the films range widely in content and the audience they're intended for. Though known for being a reserved people, a few of the directors did not shy away from some topics that would make most blush. One film I plan to see has received rave reviews, but critics often caution viewers of the lewd nature of the comedy. Danish film Klovn (Clown) is based on a Danish sitcom by the same name. It has often been compared to Curb Your Enthusiasm in the way the plot focuses around the hilarity of everyday happenings, mixed with the social awkwardness of the characters and the socially unacceptable nature of their actions. Klovn was awarded Best Film of Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival. Showtime: Sunday April 22nd, 9:30p Klovn Review from Fantastic Fest 2011
On the more romantic side is Where Once We Walked, a Finnish film based on an award-winning novel by Kjell Wësto. Spanning the First World War, through the Finnish Civil War, and up into the Fascist government before the start of WWII, the film documents the growth of the Finnish Nationalist spirit as well as the complications these identity changes inflict on friends and lovers, in this case, young upper class Lucie and her two working class suitors, Eric and Allen. Showtimes: Saturday April 21st, 7:00p & Thursday April 24th, 9:15p
Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics