Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival kicked off Thursday, April 12 amid a powerful, atypically late April snowstorm. Fortunately, things began just before the storm, with an unimpacted showing of RBG – the buzzy documentary on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – and an opening party. This year marks the 37th edition of the festival, hosted by the Minneapolis St. Paul Film Society.
Running more than two weeks long, it’s one of the country’s oldest film fests, and presents more than 250 projects from filmmakers around the world. About 70 countries are represented this year, according to the Film Society.
The films, screened in theaters throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding areas, were sorted into more than a dozen categories, including: this year’s Spotlight on the World theme of Chasms and Bridges, which looks at divisions in society and the potential for reconciliation and compassion; Asian Frontiers, showcasing the work of independent voices from a continent rich in people and unique experiences; Childish Films that tap into the young, emotional spirit of childhood and explores the world through a lens all ages can comprehend; as well as Cine Latino, Dark Out, Images of Africa, and more.
For the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival Masters of Cinema category, the 2018 honoree is Ingmar Bergman, a Swedish filmmaker with more than 60 projects to his name. In narratives and documentaries, and theatrical and television formats, Bergman explored the affairs of the heart and depths of the soul. His film festival tribute includes screenings of two of his films Summer with Monika and Persona, and a documentary about him called Trespassing Bergman. The Film Society will honor Bergman further with a retrospective in late May/Early June.
Elsewhere in the film festival, Minnesota’s cinematic contributions are being celebrated via a Minnesota Made category, and with a dedication to the 2018 Minnesota Cinematic Arts Award Honoree, director Peter Markle. In addition to films and tributes, the event includes panels – for example, Film Fatales: A Director’s Conversation, in which female filmmakers discuss the challenges and delights of the business, and the Spotlight: Chasms and Bridges panel.
After the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival fun began with RBG, some opening weekend films had to be rescheduled due to the storm, but among those that went on as planned were: After the War, a drama from Roman-born, Paris-residing filmmaker Annarita Zombrano; and Hitler’s Hollywood, a Berlin-based director’s look at the plethora of feature films that came out of the Third Reich and how they used film to spread certain messages.
A highlight of the second weekend was the appearance of acclaimed writer-director Debra Granik. Known most prominently for her 2010 film Winter’s Bone – which scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination, as well as a Best Actress nomination for then-unknown Jennifer Lawrence (effectively launching her career), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Hawkes) and Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay – Granik attended the film festival in support of her new piece, Leave No Trace. The movie was screened April 20, and Granik later attended a party for filmmakers, industry players and festival-goers.
As the festival approaches its end, the schedule remains packed with a variety of films to catch. It will wrap up with awards – there’s People’s Choice prizes audiences can contribute to by tearing ballots and leaving them with festival staff on the way out of a screening – and with the closing night party April 28.
TheCelebrityCafe’s Amanda Ostuni is on hand at the festival. Check back next week for an interview with Granik, and our writer’s reflections on the Minnesota movie-mania-based festival.
For more information on the event, or to see the schedule, go to mspfilm.org/festivals/mspiff.