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

A Powerful Voice from the Margins: We Rock Long Distance Explores Global Hip Hop

He Filmed Long Distance Filmmaker Justin Schell traveled halfway around the world and back.  He’s followed  Maria Isa through the streets of Puerto Rico. Trekked to Thailand with Tou SaiKo Lee. And finally, heard the poetry from M.anifest’s grandfather in Ghana. It’s all for his feature length film We Rock Long Distance, premiering at Intermedia Arts this weekend as part of their Catalyst Series. The film weaves together history, ethnicity, music and the meaning of home and place through Twin Cities hip hop artists Maria Isa, Tou SaiKo Lee and M.anifest The film, hot off the editing bench, explores the lives and connections of these three musicians here in the Twin Cities and in their home countries. Continue Reading

Satanic Rituals and Tiki Bars at The Trylon

On Thursday, March 12, The Trylon will present two feature films from opposite ends of my twenty-year filmmaking career here in Hollywood, Minnesota. The first, “Made in Berlin”, is a tribute to German expressionist movies of the 1920’s such as “Metropolis” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. It was shot on 16 mm black-and-white filmstock in the steamy confines of a since-closed Minneapolis hotel in the spring of 1997. The second, “The Tiki War”, is a “Mad Men”-era piece set in a tiki bar in 1961 Chicago that pays tribute to the days when the Rat Pack ruled the world. This feature was shot on high-definition Red Scarlet in the belly of Minneapolis’ Red Dragon in February of 2014.Both movies are helping to get the cauldron boiling for my upcoming feature film production “Group Session With Satan”, slated to be made in Minnesota either this spring or summer. Continue Reading

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

Twin Cities Film Fest preview, part one

The Twin Cities Film Fest 2014 is upon us. The fest runs from October 16th to October 25th, screening at a single location in the Showplace Icon West End cinema. The metro is lucky enough to have several film festivals sprinkled throughout the year, and each one has its own kind of focus. Twin Cities Film Fest looks to aim toward a spot in the upper tier of the indie film festival circuit, showcasing films that have done well at Sundance, South by Southwest and others. Not quite as international as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, not quite as doggedly independent as Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, the TCFF program focuses on mostly domestic films that are on the cusp of wider release or deserve wider attention. Additionally, there is a very healthy showing of locally filmed or produced movies.

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Finale of Trylon’s 5th Anniversary Silent Film Festival features two Buster Keaton comedies

The Trylon Microcinema at 3258 Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis finishes its month-long silent film festival on July 25-27 with Buster Keaton’s Go West and The High Sign, with live musical accompaniment by Rats and People Motion Picture Orchestra Minnesota. Go West (1925) features the leading lady that Buster Keaton’s wife Eleanor considered her husband’s most beautiful love interest of all–a Brown Swiss cow named Brown Eyes. Continue Reading

MOVIE REVIEW | “A Coffee in Berlin” offers known comforts

Despite the growth of café culture across the United States, we are often reminded by our movie heroes that a basic black coffee )“a damn fine cup of coffee”) offers distinct pleasures. A Coffee in Berlin, the debut feature from German director Jan Ole Gerster, concerns a young man’s search for that very thing.Nico (Tom Schilling) is a law school drop out who has broken up with his girlfriend and moved into a new apartment. He’s unemployed and begins the first day of the rest of his life by going out for coffee at a nearby café. His simple desire is thwarted by the lack of cash in his pocket and the uselessness of his debit card. This sets off an absurd journey that is equal parts Ulysses, Slacker and Italian Neo-Realism with a dash of Woody Allen thrown in for taste. Continue Reading

The Naked Critic

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed recurring discussion, or blogging at least, about the changing face of media criticism. I suppose this article here was the first bit of the current wave that I read, and as you can see in the comment section, I thought it was a very well-considered piece about the direction online criticism is heading. In summary, the usual mainstream media outlets are cutting back or eliminating paid criticism while unpaid or freelance criticism is creeping back to feature length. This is cool for several reasons, top of which in mind is that for once there is evidence to suggest that the entirety of humanity isn’t getting stupider with every click of the trackpad. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Cinema in the Cemetery series presents Buster Keaton’s “The General” among the headstones

At 8:30 pm on Saturday, May 24, Buster Keaton’s silent comedy-adventure The General will show outdoors at a rather unusual venue for a night at the movies–the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue. The event, a fundraiser for the historic cemetery, is part of the Cinema in the Cemetery series, co-presented by Take-Up Productions, the Trylon Microcinema,, and the Friends of the Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery.Local musicians Dreamland Faces will accompany the film with a live, original score, and food trucks will be on hand to stave off moviegoers’ hunger pangs. Admission is $8 in advance, $10 at the gate, with advance tickets available at Holders of Take-Up Discount cards get free admission but pay $2 for the music. Children under 12 are free, but donations from all attendees are appreciated. Continue Reading

Flex your filmmaker muscles during One Day in the Twin Cities Saturday

Citizens across the Twin Cities are invited to pick up their camcorders and pull out their smartphones Saturday, April 26 as part of the cities-wide media creation event, One Day in the Twin Cities.One Day in the Twin Cities is a local project of One Day on Earth to “inform the future of our cities,” according to the event website. Eleven cities across the country, including the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, are taking part in the event.How do can you participate? By investigating one or more of the following 10 questions and capturing it on film:Why are you in your city?What do you love about your city?What is the best thing happening in your city today?What are your city’s biggest challenges?Who is your city not serving?What is the worst thing that could happen to your city?What are the solutions that your city needs to implement?How are people changing the future of your city?What do you hope for your city in the next 20 years?Ask your own question about your city.When your video is complete, upload it via Vimeo to the One Day in the Twin Cities website. The footage will used to create a TV Series and Geo-tagged archive featuring the stories. Those who plan to interview other people on film, need to get their subjects to sign releases. Continue Reading