MSPIFF or MSPFest 13 – MSP International Film Festival 2013 – What Maisie Knew and Around the World in a Day

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About the weekend. 

Although there are some Hollywood, star-driven movies as part of the MSPIFF program: Saturday April 20 at 6:30 – What Maisie Knew  – a intimate personal divorce drama with frustration and heart wrenching family issues that hit home to anyone who has had a child in their life – Stars include Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, and Alexander Skarsgård  – but also newcomers Onata Aprile and Johanna Vanderham. They are the ones to watch. Their performances fill out the film which is otherwise mottled with the flitty appearances of the deadbeat parents (played by the Moore and Coogan). 

In choosing films to see, I avoid Hollywood at film festivals, UNLESS the directors are present. In this case, Scott McGehee and David Siegel answered questions moderated by University of Minnesota Associate Professor Lynn Lukkas.   The film played at the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) in September and will be in San Francisco (SFIFF) following this festival, so Minneapolis is the United States premiere of this film.   

AROUND THE WORLD without leaving Minneapolis. Just a quick list of origin of the movies on Saturday, April 20 bring this fact home. The coutries of production are:  England, France, Russia, China, Italy, Finland, Chile, Ireland, Belgium, Mexico, Cuba, USA, Serbia, Algeria, Sweden, Bulgaria, Australia.

You truly can travel around the world in a day:

Here are two that I have seen and recommend – in both cases the director is attending!

FINNISH BLOOD, SWEDISH HEART – (Finland)  Addresses the identity issues that arise when children live in foreign countries with their parents. Some 600,000 Finns have moved to Sweden for work, bringing their children with them. The protagonist in this film lived in Gothenburg as a child and as a teen moved back to Finland. He never lost his affinity to Sweden and feeling connected to the culture, but he is technically Finnish. For anyone who has lived abroad and returned, this is a familiar dilemma. Where is home and what do you identify with after absorbing a foreign culture and language?  In addition, these neighboring countries have official pockets of natives, each speaking the other’s language. Finland recognizes Swedish as an official language and has ethnic Swedes living in the coastal areas who are Finnish. The film playfully and emotionally addresses the ethnic/nationality issues via a father son road trip.  The playful part is the band that pops up to play interludes placed on fields and odd uban locations – a folk/rock  accordian and brass style that feels like it could be from Minnesota (they sing about figuring out where you are from. Finn, Swede, Norway?) 

Mika Ronkainen is attending and will do a Q&A after the screening.  His twitter account is annotated “ingen richtig finne”  which means “not a true Finn”.  Obviously he is personally invested in the issue. 

MULTIPLE VISIONS (The Crazy Machine) (Mexico) directed by Emilio Maillé has collected a fabulous black and white visual candy treat.  Mixing the stunning shots created by the famous Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Taught by Greg Toland (cinematographer of Citizen Kane, to give one example) and treasured by surrealist filmmaker  Luis Bunuel, Figueroa chose to focus on Mexican films but still worked for John Huston and John Ford (big screen westerns and others). His understanding of the landscape, the light, the Mexican environment was unparalleled. The documentary cuts between movie clips and interviews, each in their native tongues, with the world’s greatest cinematographers. People you don’t know by name, but whose films you have seen. Maillé wisely lists the cinematographer’s at the end with their most well known movies. They talk about Figueroa, but also philosophically about making light move in time on screen. One unforgettable quote is that “color is the opium” of the people in movies. Cinematographers are not just capturing images, they are creating them.  If you know nothing, want to know, or know a lot about the machinery – the crazy machine behind making movies- this is a great visual, visceral, and vibrant introduction to the art of cinematography using Figueroa as a springboard. 

LAST SHOWING SATURDAY, April 20th 2013  at 3.45.