It’s hard to believe that nineteen Art-A-Whirls have gone by since the first one, in 1996. I almost missed that first Art-A-Whirl, but my state representative, Diane Loeffler, suggested I go and maybe do some videotaping. So I went out on the last day of that first Art-A-Whirl and asked a few people who they were and what was going on. I managed to run into several of the founders of the event, and I saw that those quietly large industrial buildings in my neighborhood were full of life and activity. This year, Debbie Woodward, the building manager of one of those buildings, the Northrup King, gave me the opportunity to use a space on the second floor of that building, right in the heart of the Northeast Arts District.
April 17 marks 40 years since the Khmer Rouge devastated Cambodia. It also tried to wipe out the country’s incredibly vibrant rock, soul, and pop music and performing artists.For the first time, mysteries of this lesser known, yet no less vibrant music scene are revealed in American filmmaker and director John Pirozzi’s extraordinary film Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock ‘n’ Roll– his love letter to Cambodia’s all but lost music, the artists and audiences in their happy heyday. This breathtakingly beautiful, stunning film features vintage 1960’s and ‘70s films made by King Sihanouk, captivatingly warm, soft, dreamy coloration of musicians, their audiences and Cambodian culture all found by Pirozzi. Paintings and poppy, bright, playful album covers pop up during interviews with musicians, fans, family members of artists lost. Radio DJ’s candidly share their joyful and ultimately heartbreaking stories.“Music is the soul of the nation,” Prince Sihanouk said of the huge importance of arts in Cambodian culture. Sihanouk, a son of a King who was a musician and mother, the head of a ballet company, was himself a filmmaker and a popular leader of the people, as King.Upon becoming independent from the French in 1953, Cambodia’s arts and cultural scene blossomed” Numerous young musicians in Phnom Penh were deeply inspired to perform fun, buoyant pop, rock ‘n’ roll, surf, Cuban and cha cha cha music by U.S. French, British and Latin they heard. Continue Reading
Academy Award nominee Bill Plympton presented his new animated feature Cheatin’ on April 13 and 14 at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Plympton drew 40,000 images in pencil to create the film, which is a romantic comedy that is touching, hilarious, raunchy, and doesn’t have a single line of dialogue. Cheatin’ is Plympton’s seventh hand-drawn animated feature. He has also animated over 60 shorts, two of which received “Best Animated Short” Oscar nominations.Before and after the two screenings of his film, Plympton sold his DVDs, books, and art while he spoke with fans and drew characters from the film onto postcards. Continue Reading
How do you create a soundtrack for a neighborhood? Would the sounds be from early morning? Late in the day? Who are the people that would sing, play instruments or speak for that neighborhood? These are the questions Mankwe Ndosi asked herself when she took on a massive public art project called Soundtrack of Phillips. Continue Reading
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival kicks off on Thursday with over 200 films from 70 countries spanning two weeks of showings. The festival has a number of LGBT-themed films being screened. Here are trailers for those films:52 TUESDAYS16-year-old Billie’s reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for gender reassignment and their time together becomes limited to Tuesday afternoons. Filmed over the course of a year, once a week, every week—only on Tuesdays—these unique filmmaking rules bring a rare authenticity to this emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility and transformation. Continue Reading
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of what I’m calling “citizen reviews” of films playing at the MSPIFF. The first is by Reyna Crow, an activist with the group Idle No More. I reached out to Reyna because I knew she would have something to say about Medicine of the Wolf, a film about the cotroversial wolf hunt here in Minnesota. In this short article, Reyna gives us some insight into issues in the film. It screens tomorrow, April 11th at 4:45 at Saint Anthony Main and Sunday, April 12th at 1pm at the Best Buy Theater. Continue Reading
Al Milgrom, who founded the first long-lasting film society in Minnesota, has become a filmmaker himself with his first feature length film, “The Dinkytown Uprising,” on the demonstrations to stop construction of a fast-food restaurant. [Link to great trailer: https://vimeo.com/121387504]During the takeover, the protestors – some of whom were university and high school students – cooked their own food in the former diner, published their own newsletter, and created a “hotel” for staying on site, where one of Milgrom’s subjects admitted to losing his virginity. The film “Easy Rider” was listed on the marque of the Varsity Theater across the street.In 1970, Red Barn, a chain that folded in the 1980s, would have faced competition in Dinkytown from Burger King, which went out of business in Dinkytown in the late 1990s, and McDonald’s, which has been in Dinkytown since 1960. Bob Lafferty, who owned five Twin Cities Red Barn franchises, met occasionally with protesters and Milgrom shows some tense but friendly banter between them.With speakers on a megaphone in the background, Milgrom caught some of the personal exchanges. “You need fast food on a campus,” Lafferty said. Continue Reading