Film provides students' views on standardized testing

The on-going national debate on standardized testing features a lengthy list of pros and cons. Proponents often cite the tests as “reliable and objective measures,” “inclusive and non-discriminatory,” and claim most parents approve. Not everyone agrees.

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Director Justin Simien brings "Dear White People" to the Walker Art Center

Photo courtesy Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions

PARK CITY, UTAH— Director Justin Simien's Dear White People was one of the most talked about films at this year's Sundance Film Festival and was also filmed in Minnesota. It had plenty of buzz entering the festival and played to packed public screenings with additional press screenings to accommodate press and distributors. While it took some time after Sundance ended for Dear White People to find U.S. distribution, Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions eventually picked it up and it will be released in the fall of 2014. The film's much-anticipated Minnesota premiere is this Friday, May 2 at 7:30pm at the Walker Art Center. The series is part of the Walker's NEXT LOOK series featuring five films premiering at Sundance in 2014. IFP’s Midwest Filmmaker Conference will feature Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper who will introduce Dear White People along with Simien. Producer Effie T. Brown (Real Women Have Curves) and actors Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) and Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars) will also be at the screening.

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Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2014: New festival vibe and recommendations for the final weekend

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival's vibe is different this year. I am not really sure how to describe it–maybe a veneer of professionalism. Less rough and tumble, more polish, less scrappy local flair, but still the clear commitment to the diversity of the film world. One thing remains, unlike big festivals, there are no press conferences with visiting filmmakers and actors, but rather a cozy Q&A in the cinema. They did however add the logo-laden backdrop common at big festivals to the area behind the  panelists.  As I chatted with the staff, one clear technical change this year is that there are no 35mm prints being shown. Last year there were six. The year before, I remember one filmmaker worried about the safe projection of his 16 mm film. Shipping of 35mm prints is extremely expensive, so a world of film options is open in this brave new world of technology. The world is officially 100% digital.

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Dan Schneidkra​ut's "Old Man" screens at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Fest

The power of filmmaking can sometimes take hold and lift us into an escapist retreat from our entire life, and other times it can be a wondrous experience of dealing with an emotional turbulence, strange melancholy, or a genuine belly laugh that can make your head hurt from laughter. One of those films I experienced all of these feelings were in local filmmaker, Dan Schenidkraut's newest film, Old Man, which screens Monday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Anthony Main Theater as part of the 2014 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). Dan Schneidkraut's film opens with Andy Schneidkraut walking out of his record shop in Boulder, Col.—Albums on the Hill, the last standing record shop in Boulder today. The record store is the subject of the documentary, but it's also about Schneidkraut's relationship with his father.

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COMMUNITY VOICES | Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival off and running

With over 250 films from 65 countries, the Minneapolis St. Paul Film Festival runs through April 19. The event is a project of the Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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Minnesotans praise Cesar Chavez: The man and the movie

 “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate a person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate a person who feels pride.

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2014 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival features very long, but very good movies

Blue Ruin. Photo courtesy of Radius-TWC

The 2014 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF ), the biggest film festival in the Midwest, starts Thursday, April 3 and runs through Saturday, April 19. The festival is sure to bring in big crowds to the St. Anthony Main theaters, and this year will also include satellite venues at the Walker Art Center and the newly renovated Northrup Auditorium (called the Best Buy Theatre) on the University of Minnesota campus. There is still no Saint Paul venue however, leaving one wondering when the "S" in MSPIFF will finally disappear from its acronym (MPIFF, maybe) or if the Film Society of MSP will eventually find a venue across the river in our state's capital.

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The top films from the 2014 SXSW Film/Music/Interactive festival

Faults. Photo courtesy of Snoot Films.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – The 2014 SXSW Film/Music/Interactive festival has been over for two weeks now and while it was another year filled with great films, there is still an ominous feeling surrounding this year's festival. A drunk driver killed two people and injured 23 people on March 13th on Red River Street and 11th Avenue. The death toll is up to four now, and Rashad Owens, 21, is now facing capital murder charges with bail set at $3 million. While it was my first time attending SXSW, it will be hard to forget this tragic incident despite the good times I had seeing movies, catching up with old friends, and seeing live music. SXSW started a donation drive, "SXSW Cares" for the victims and within 24 hours they had raised $40,000. Totals are now up to $55,000. You can still to donate to help out the remaining victims still in the hospital.

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