With the completion of MSPIFF’s opening weekend over at St. Anthony Main, there were plenty of hits and a few misfires, but a plethora of filmmakers came to town to show off their latest work.
Opening night, director Andrew Rossi and New York Times journalist (and former Twin Cities Reader editor) David Carr brought Rossi’s documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times to a sold-out crowd. The audience was more than excited when the film was over, and Star Tribune A&E editor Tim Campbell conducted an entertaining Q&A. Screening alongside Page One was the Canadian film Score: A Hockey Musical. Actor Noah Reid was supposed to be present, only to cancel at the last minute since he had just returned from overseas; the film was received with lukewarm reviews. I attended the Norwegian monster comedy Trollhunter; I can’t really give a full review of the film, since I walked out after 40 minutes. Not only was Trollhunter neither funny nor scary, it proved to be a colossal bore—though afterwards, I was told by a few people who took in the whole movie that it “picks up.” All I guess I can say is that its synopsis proved to be more enjoyable than its first forty minutes.
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I corresponded with executive director Susan Smoluchowski and artistic director Al Milgrom, via e-mail, about opening weekend. Smoluchowski said, “directors Craig McCall (Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff), Denis Cote (Curling), and Armand Diangienda (Kinshasa Symphony) all had many positive things to say about their experience here in the Twin Cities. They were pleased with the nice welcome from the staff and board members and were enthusiastic about the audiences and their Q & A’s.” She also said a few of the hits of the festival so far have been Page One, Kinshasa Symphony, Trollhunter, Happy Happy, and POM WONDERFUL Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Al Milgrom had glowing praise for Kinshasa Symphony; “I overheard someone walking down the stairs after one of its screenings saying, ‘That was an adventure! That wasn’t a film.’ ‘Adventure’ implies ‘Discovery,’ and that’s what the festival is all about.” Due to popular demand, a third screening of Kinshasa Symphony has been added for Tuesday, April 19 at 4:45 p.m.; the film currently is number one on the Audience Award ballot. Will there be a fourth screening? To find out for sure, keep an eye on MSPIFF’s website.
The festival had a total of 59 screenings, and there were huge crowds for many of the films. With a wintry day on Saturday, the Festival Pavilion was closed until 9 p.m. that evening, but many felt that “the tent” was a nice added addition to this year’s festival. The lobby was congested during its peak hours and many people didn’t know where to go at times, but thanks to its reliable staff and volunteers, the mobs of people were patient and by Sunday evening, the lobby issues had been sorted out.
One last quick note: not in MSPIFF, but another festival darling since its premiere in Venice last September, Kelly Reichardt’s slow-moving but brilliant western Meek’s Cutoff will have its Minnesota premiere at the Walker Art Center this Saturday, with director Reichardt (Wendy & Lucy, Old Joy) returning to the Walker after being the subject of a Regis Dialogue last summer. She’ll also be at the screening with fellow indie filmmaker Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven; HBO’s miniseries Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet), so this is a great (and rare) chance to see two of the most important American filmmakers working today together for one night and to see an advance screening of Meek’s Cutoff before its Minneapolis opening on Friday, May 6 at the Uptown Theatre.
With MSPIFF not even a quarter through its schedule yet, there is still plenty to catch and with more snow in the forecast over the next few days, this is perfect weather to take in some independent and foreign films down by the river. With close to 25 more directors coming to town this week, what more could a cinephile ask for?
Image: Meek’s Cutoff, courtesy Oscilloscope Films