MOVIES | New fest on the block: First annual Twin Cities Film Fest comes to Block E and Mall of America


While September is usually the time for moviegoers in the Twin Cities to catch up on late summer releases, it also means gearing up for fall and end-of-the-year releases, many of which will become Oscar nominees. A new venture has put those releases on the back burner, though—at least for another five days. 

The Twin Cities Film Fest (September 28-October 2) has sprung up to give audiences a chance to catch some of the biggest fall studio films in advance (Waiting for “Superman,” Secretariat, Fair Game), highlighting films from Mexico (coinciding with the bicentennial), and a slew of independent films under most audiences’ radars (Night Catches Us, Down Terrace). But what might be most important is a showcase of shorts, narratives, and documentary films by local Minnesota filmmakers—including the highly anticipated Minnesota premiere of Phasma ex Machina, written, edited and directed by Matt Osterman.

The genesis behind TCFF is Jatin Setia, 30, the executive director of the festival, who was laid off from his job during the recession a few years back, but had a vision of uniting downtown businesses and community members within the Twin Cities and to bring a film festival into the heart of Minneapolis. Setia knew he wanted to start TCFF right; he quickly established TCFF as a nonprofit, found respected and well-known people in the city to serve as board members, and worked endlessly with local businesses who could help sponsor the festival, which could enhance the downtown nightlife by giving the general public (and hardcore cinephiles) a chance to see some films they otherwise might not see until later—if at all. Setia has a plan, and while this is the first annual TCFF, it’s been close to a three-year journey of his to finally unveil his labor of love in the middle of downtown.

I met Setia in the TCFF office downtown a few weeks ago. He was well-spoken, realistic, and confident about his plans to help the downtown economy, bring a diverse audience together to enjoy the impressive program, and sponsor many events throughout the week and to make sure that TCFF leaves a mark at its two venues (Block E and the AMC Mall of America theaters). Lastly, he had a positive attitude about the need to be open to any and all criticism on how the festival’s first go-round turns out. Setia plans to listen to discern how the festival can be better and improve for next year—and the year after that.

For my first question I asked Setia: with a number of film festivals in the Twin Cities, and with I’m sure more to appear, what makes TCFF different than the others ones currently going? [Click play button below to hear the interview.]