Thursday, March 13, 2008

...and a retraction from Al Milgrom

Because not everyone gets the Minnesota Film Arts e-mail newsletter, I thought I would post what Al Milgrom had to say about recent rumors about the fate of the Oak Street being sold to non-film-loving developers. In a meandering and mind-boggling verbosity all his own, here is Milgrom's "message of encouragement:"


As sure as the swallows return to Capistrano, the annual "Nightmare on Oak Street" stories surfaced again this year in the papers, not long before we launch the 26th Annual Mpls./St.Paul Int'l Film Fest Apr.17 - May 3, 2008

As per print, do we qualify for "arts whipping boy of the year" in this self-congratulatory arts-lauded Twin Cities? (Yours truly, with a near-50-year programming-track record, back in town for more than two weeks before certain articles and blogs appeared, missed being quoted in his own personal vernacular.)

Let me assure you faithful supporters and film friends, contrary to impressions left, both the Oak St. Cinema and Bell Aud. will be (and are) in business after the fest in May and who knows how long after? Expect programming to continue as before. Nothing is written in stone in this current real estate market, as you well know. (Yes, the Oak will eventually be sold. How else can we continue our mission given our current deficit?)

To switch to a positive note, the website is carrying some fest info now. We hope to have most of the program up around March 28, with more than l00 titles, over 40 countries. The venues include: Oak Street Cinema, St. Anthony Main's five screens, (easy day-long & night parking for only 50 cents total), spot satellite screenings Kerasotes Block E, and the possibility of a screen at the Riverview and AMC Roseville.

The Festival is set to include Oscar nominees (Katyn, Beaufort, others); Sundance titles: (Nerakhoon, the Betrayal, an epic Hmong story, and more), other top fest pics, expected visiting directors: China, Africa, Russia, Canada, Czech Republic and U.S.

Thanks for your continuing faith in the organization and your support.

Al Milgrom,

MFA Artistic Director & one time east-city-editor, Washington Post


jmberes said...

It's hard to know which head of the hydra to believe. I vote none of them.

Barry Kryshka said...

Al says that MN Film Arts has no choice. "How else can we continue our mission?" But operating the Oak Street Cinema IS the mission of MN Film Arts, and has been since long before they took on the U Film Society's festival and debts.

Why is it that the only "Save The Oak Street" campaigns we've seen have been from people outside MFA? Where are the MN Film Arts campaigns to save the theater?

It's time to stop griping about the raw deal they get from the media and DO something to save their best asset. Not to mention ours. MFA is a nonprofit, and Tim Grady is not the owner of the Oak Street Cinema, we all are.

Anonymous said...

Well put Barry.

Anonymous said...

So how successful have the folks outside of MFA been at saving the Oak?

I'd donate to such a cause if I could trust anyone inside OR outside of the organization to do right by the theater, which would mean serious renovation in addition to a cash infusion so the theater can run with such small audiences (because of it's often narrow programming).

Jeanne said...

I would think MFA's mission has to do with film and not location.

But I'm an east coast cynic who literally watched her favorite old-time village movie theater torn down almost twenty years ago so a Gap could be erected.

For me, as long as MFA has at least one venue, I'll be happy.