Finding the treasures at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. Photo credit Sean Porter.

Another tour of duty (going on seven years) covering the 2014 Sundance Film Festival for Twin Cities Daily Planet starts Thursday, January 16 through Sunday, January 26. The biggest and flashiest United States film festival, located in the beautiful mountain scope of Park City, Utah, is celebrating its 30th anniversary and seems to be bursting at the seams this year. The festival has blindsided me more than other years with the announcements of films premiering four days before opening night, the latest surprise entry being a new feature from the iconic American independent director Richard Linklater (The Before trilogy, Waking Life, Dazed and Confused) Boyhood. Linklater filmed the growth of a boy from childhood to young adulthood every year from 2002 to 2013. Boyhood stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the boy’s divorced parents. Adding a film, especially one directed by Linklater, is a game changer and another reason why Sundance continues upping its game and securing top independent directors, producers, actors and distributors in making this year’s festival one giddy with anticipation.

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From Moby Dick to Flipper: the film Blackfish brings back memories

I was home sick yesterday, swaddled in polar fleece, sipping Phở Tái and channel surfing. I decided to watch the recently released movie Blackfish on Apple TV. This documentary about killer whales that perform at theme parks like SeaWorld brought to mind my life-long attraction to animals that interact with humans in ways that are–well, human. I grew up with Robbie, a black and brown dog I adored. I watched and wept over heart-tugging TV shows like Lassie and Flipper. And even though I was just old enough to find Dr. Doolittle–the Rex Harrison musical film version–rather ridiculous, the idea that animals had languages we could learn and that would enable us to connect peacefully with them made deep, personal sense to me.

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Dreams, history and passion: An interview with Mychal Mitchell

What does it mean to follow your dreams and to tell stories for a living? How do we remember those who made a difference in our lives? Making movies has been one route many Lao and their families are taking because we have a generation coming of age that understands how vital it is to add the Lao perspective to the American Dream.

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Minneapolis actor Barkhad Abdi a contender in 86th Oscar awards

Photos By: 
Jeff Rutherford

Minneapolis actor and resident Barkhad Abdi is an Oscar contender for best performance in a supporting role, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced.

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Top 10 movies of 2013

Photo credit Warner Brothers.

I was speaking with a friend—one who also writes on film—a few weeks ago about the 2013 film calendar and said, “I’m not sure it has been that impressive this year. There are some great films, but I think it was somewhat of a let down.” My friend looked at me like I had just stomped on his feet and said, “Really…I think you’re the only person who has said that to me.” Looking back on that conversation and having since had the opportunity to catch some twenty more films, I completely misspoke at the time and regret saying it. 2013 has been quite a banner year for our viewing pleasure at the movies.

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"American Hustle" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" bring 2013 to a strong close

"Inside Llewyn Davis." Photo credit CBS Films

The 2013 film calendar is close to wrapping up and after all that wading through the clearance section of the year, we have finally been rewarded with two early Christmas presents in the form of two films opening this Friday, December 20 from some of the best American directors working today. David O. Russell’s 1970s semi-nonfictional NYC con story American Hustle is opening at various theaters around the Twin Cities and Minneapolis-born directors Ethan and Joel Coen’s 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene Inside Llewyn Davis is opening exclusively at Landmark’s Uptown theater.
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Artists in Storefronts 5: Cineteca lights the winter nights

Félix (a new short film by Jaime Carrera & Tyler Jensen)

As anyone who lives up in the God forsaken North will tell you—it’s not the cold that gets in the end. It’s not the snow, or the ice. It’s the darkness. That permeating darkness when you don’t know if it’s day or night, this time of Vitamin D deficiency and Seasonal Affective Disorder. To ease our suffering, Artists in Storefronts, the public arts project led by Joan Vorderbruggen, may offer some relief by providing a little bit of light, color and movement to brighten your night. 

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In "Student Voices – The New Wilderness," 100 diverse local youth discuss racism, bullying, their educational experiences

Students express their experiences in the Anoka-Hennepin Public School district in Student Voices — The New Wilderness, a five DVD set. (Photo by Sassafrass Design)

Working for the Anoka-Hennepin Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, Carolyn Lakanen saw firsthand that a safe and respectful learning environment was necessary, especially with the student population becoming more diverse. To that end, a couple of years ago she brought in New Wilderness Project, a national organization that “explores diversity and community through creative expression and adventure,” to help her produce a five-part documentary series.

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Kristine Sorensen: Helping young artists tell their stories

It’s clear that Kristine Sorensen loves the art of storytelling. The executive director of In Progress, Sorensen has spent her career capturing stories on film and teaching others to do the same.

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