Flyway Film Festival lures Twin Citians across the river October 23-26

How is the Flyway Film Festival, happening this week in the Wisconsin river towns of Pepin, Stockholm, and Maiden Rock, different from other film festivals? A well-known producer visiting the Flyway once told me, off the record: “Nobody’s trying to suck up to anybody here. People say what they really think about the films and nobody acts pretentious, the way they do at most festivals.” (You can see why this person did not want to be quoted by name.)The Flyway was recently voted one of the world’s “Twenty-Five Coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine, so let’s hope that the unpretentious atmosphere holds. Last year, more than 2,000 people from 19 states and Canada attended. That’s up from the 408 locals who came in 2008, the year the Flyway was born.The majority of attendees are Twin Citians who make the 90-minute drive for the films, for the outstanding local food, and for the astonishing scenery along the river bluffs, which will make you think you’ve left the Midwest for the Mediterranean. Continue Reading

The many lives of filmmaker Craig Laurence Rice, Part II

In Part One of our little fireside chat with filmmaker Craig Laurence Rice, we learned that, before he got around to programming this year’s “Minnesota Made” films at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, he had dropped out of Lutheran high school, become a hard-living bass player, and happened upon a scholarship to one of the best film schools in the world. We left him in L.A. with his broken-down car, desperately wanting to hightail it back to Minnesota.What was so scary about the University of Southern California?Look, I was a down-home kid from Minneapolis, and the students at USC Film School were the brightest, richest kids in the world. I mean, we’re talking about real money. One of my friends’ dad patented the aerosol can, another ran Mattel, another one’s mom was the editor of Reader’s Digest.And the film school was very Hollywood, all about business—we read the trades, trying to figure out how to make films that were just like other films that had already made money. Continue Reading

The many lives of filmmaker Craig Laurence Rice, Part I

Here’s an imaginary conversation you might overhear while waiting in line for tickets at the upcoming Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.“Do you know Craig Laurence Rice? It says here that he picked the films for the ‘Minnesota-Made’ section of the festival.”“Well, I know a Craig Rice, but the one I know is a bass player.”“That’s funny, because the Craig Rice I know used to work with Joseph Papp at The Public Theater in New York.”“I knew a Craig Rice who ran Prince’s whole operation out at Paisley Park.”“There must be a lot of people with that name, because I went to Pilgrim Lutheran elementary school with a Craig Rice, and I’ll tell you what: that kid wasn’t going to amount to much.”“Really? Because the Craig Rice I know teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.”“And the one I know was nominated for three primetime Emmys for his documentary Half Past Autumn, about the life of Gordon Parks.”“Gotta be a lot of Craig Laurence Rices, then.”But no! They’re all talking about the same guy!When I recently sat down with Craig to ask him about the Minnesota-made films he picked for MSPIFF, we also chatted a bit about his career. Continue Reading

Native filmmaker Missy Whiteman takes spiritual message from Minnesota to SXSW

If you watched the Academy Awards recently, you may think that pretty much all movies are made by white men. Not true. Movies are also made by non-white women, including one whose name is…Whiteman.Missy Whiteman is a Native filmmaker and educator in Minneapolis. She’ll travel this week to Austin, Texas to speak on a panel at the hugely prestigious film festival and conference South by Southwest (known to the initiated as “SXSW” in print and “South By” in conversation. Yes, you’re cool now).I spoke with Missy about her work as she was getting ready to hit the road. Continue Reading

McKnight Foundation and IFP offer $50,000 grant for Minnesota new media art project

Compared to the rest of the country, Minnesota is a mecca for arts funding. Yes, your artist friends kvetch about having to write ponderous grant proposals to support their work. But this is a state where we, the people, passed a constitutional amendment to support the arts, and where we have groups like the McKnight Foundation and the Jerome Foundation who actually believe that artistic creativity is worth something. Tell that to your friends in South Dakota, or anywhere. Continue Reading

A brief “Bite It” hiatus

You know how sometimes you take up a little hobby, like writing articles about food, for example, and then all of a sudden your day job gets really busy, and you take on another time-consuming freelance job on top of that, because you sure could use the money, but then you lapse into despair about how you’ve set yourself up for failure and decide you should run away and start all over in Bora B Continue Reading

Sustainability and other trendy words

I’ve noticed that many restaurants these days are emblazoning the word “sustainable” on their menus. It’s trendy, like “locally-sourced,” or “gluten-free,” or “chocolate-covered bacon,” so I decided to start saying it frequently. I hate to have a trendy word come and go before I even figure out how to use it in a sentence. Continue Reading

Eat My Fish: Specifically, my nice clean rainbow trout

Wouldn’t it be great if there were still such a thing as a freshwater fish untainted by mercury? A fish that doesn’t carry any dire warnings for pregnant women and children? A fish that tastes as fresh as the fish you vaguely remember catching in your pristine childhood? Ladies and gentlemen, such a fish still exists, thanks to the decades-long efforts of an old hippie named Herby Radmann, in a place known as Bullfrog Farm, through an enterprise called Eat My Fish. Continue Reading