Check out these LGBT-themed films at the MSP Int’l Film Festival

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

The wolf is my brother!

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’s long to-do list: Second of two parts: Film Society founder becomes filmmaker

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

The Rural Poetry of Tired Moonlight: Paul Dickinson on Starring in the Local Festival Hit

Tired Moonlight is local filmmaker Britni West’s first film as a director, and it’s  coming to the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival tomorrow. The film is an delicate atmospheric  homage to life in rural Montana, filled with soft touches, and introspective look at relationships in small towns. I really enjoyed it!Most films that depict rural poverty in America – think about a film like Winter’s Bone – paint a bleak picture of life at the margins. Tired Moonlight manages to make the world of back roads Montana seem lovely, without resorting to the usual nostalgic clichés. It was one of the most honest meditations on small town life I’ve seen, and almost made me wish I’d grown up in a place like Kalispell.The film also stars long-time Saint Paul punk musician, poet, book seller, and professor Paul Dickinson, who owns the Dead Media bookstore and runs the Riot Act Reading Series. Continue Reading

The Minneapolis/Saint Paul Film Festival is upon us!

The 2015 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF), the biggest film festival in the Midwest, starts Thursday, April 9 and runs through Saturday, April 25, with the looming probability of hosting another week of “Best of the Fest” picks, continues to make odd decisions year after year. Around a month ago, MSPIFF announced its closing night film, before its opening night film (?), the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson biopic, Love & Mercy,  directed by Bill Pohlad, on Saturday, April 25, following its Minnesota premiere the night before at the Walker Art Center. This announcement came across as no surprise, but the bigger surprise is why on earth would you use your closing night slot on a film that is premiering a mere four miles away the night before? Was there not another film available to close with, say, director James Ponsoldt’s terrific David Foster Wallace film, The End of the Tour? Continue Reading

Al Milgrom introduces film and history to generations

Dinkytown Short Trailer Al’s Version from Albert Milgrom on Vimeo.Al Milgrom spent 50 years introducing Minnesotans to films they would not otherwise see and now he’s working to show them the history they’ve forgotten.“When I’m talking to kids in Dinkytown,” says Milgrom who has spent most of his 92 years around the University of Minnesota, “they have no idea what went on – right there on the sidewalks they walk on, on their way to the U.”To improve their historical awareness, Milgrom will premiere his own film, “The Dinkytown Uprising,” at 6 p.m. April 12 and 2 p.m. April 20 at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, an event he created 34 years ago.The festival, which opens April 9 will screen more than 200 films this year at the St. Anthony Main Theater in Southeast Minneapolis.Milgrom’s first feature-length documentary tells the story of a month-long protest in 1970 that involved a cast of hundreds, perhaps thousands, to protest the demolition of small businesses and the construction of a fast-food restaurant in Dinkytown, a quaint business district adjacent to the University’s Minneapolis campus.“The whole idea was there was a ‘70s generation of activists, idealists – some went so far as to call themselves revolutionaries – who aren’t here anymore,” Milgrom said. “This was the baby boomer generation that was liberal politically. They ended up out of step with the conservative turn of the United States, even today.”“The Dinkytown Uprising” has literally been 45 years in the making, beginning when Milgrom filmed the takeover of two Dinktytown buildings on April 1, 1970, by protestors who wanted to prevent their demolition to make way for a Red Barn fast-food restaurant. Continue Reading

Slamdance Film Festival 2015: Lackluster at best

Sitting on its prime location at the top of the hill of historic Main Street in Park City, Utah, it has been weeks since the 21st annual Slamdance Film Festival ended. The excitement in the Treasure Mountain Inn (where Slamdance operates out of) was felt every time I walked into the building meeting with old friends and being introduced to new folks. Truth be told, I did not get the opportunity to see any of the films at the festival, but thankfully, I was sent plenty of DVDs and links to view as part of my planned coverage on Slamdance. The biggest surprise and best film was by MN filmmaker, Britni West, where she premiered her absolute delightful indie drama, Tired Moonlight, which took home the Narrative Jury prize. (I also interviewed her for Vita.mn.) Continue Reading

Sundance Film Festival 2015: Top 10 of 27 films viewed

PARK CITY, UTAH—With my bags packed and ready to head to the airport at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning the day before the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, there was a feeling of uncertainty heading to Park City, Utah for my eighth year in a row. Maybe I was a bit unprepared this go round compared to years past. The chatter and reports were everywhere on the most vital film industry websites (IndiewireDeadlineVarietythe Hollywood Reporter, etc.) on all the most anticipated films—who will be the breakout stars, what films will be bought, etc. I took very little notice until I arrived at the Salt Lake City airport and made my way into Park City. It was harder than ever to chart a list or map or films to see at Sundance, not to mention Slamdance too, as they had a nice slate of independent/foreign films screening concurrently over Sundance dates. Getting bombarded with emails, interview requests daily, even hourly from publicists and PR companies on coverage for seeing this film, and interviewing this star or director, became nonsensical and frankly, draining, yet I managed to see 27 films. Continue Reading