As a reward for doing my taxes this morning, I allowed myself to start planning my viewing experiences at the upcoming Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival. First let me say how thrilled I am that the vast majority of the screenings are happening at the St Anthony Theaters, a mere 5 minute bike ride from my house (if I hit the green lights at Broadway and Central!) Despite the proclamations that the Oak Street is fine and well and will be bustling with activity for the foreseeable future, the simple fact that there are only four screenings at the Oak from April 18th to May 1st might suggest otherwise. To be fair, the Festival moves to the Oak after May 1st the festival moves to the Oak for its two day "festival wind down" and it looks like the "best of the fest" screenings will happen there too. Block E will, oddly enough, host the opening and closing films with the Riverview nowhere in sight.
Tickets and passes are up for sale online. Festival passes are a cool $225 for the bad people and $175 for the members. (Or the bad people can throw in 50 bucks for a membership and pay $175 for the pass - you pay the same amount, but you are no longer a bad person.) Punch cards are available also available: 10 pack for $90 ($60 members) and 5 packs for $45 ($30). Single ticket prices could feed a family of four in a developing country, but don't let that stop you from paying $10. I insist on making tasteless jokes only because I am stretched pretty thin myself, but every dollar you spend at the Festival is going toward the ideological notion that films like these deserve to come to Minnesota. The Festival has some awesome titles, most never returning here to the big screen and many never seeing the light of DVD.
I downloaded the catalog a few days ago, but haven't had much of a chance to look at it before yesterday. Warming the cockles of my OCD soul, I have already penned in a planned attack for the screenings: earmarking must-sees and filling in the gaps with other interesting prospects. There's a lot to be excited about, and here are some of the screenings that I feel are worth mentioning:
You, The Living
I posted about my pining for this film last September, and I am thrilled it is playing. I loved Songs From the Second Floor, and have since been waiting for Roy Andersson's next film of wonderment. Be it good or bad, You, The Living doesn't sound like much of a departure from Songs - bleak, surreal and darkly humorous. I'm going to miss Chuck D because of it, but Chuck will probably be back, You, The Living will not.
Son of Rambow
Todd over at Twitch has been raving about this film since he saw it last September at the Toronto International Film Festival. That in itself is enough for me, it is just an added pleasure that director Garth Jennings will be on hand for the screening.
Andrzej Wajda is still at it. I was blown away by Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds when they came out on DVD and am more than willing to see this film simply on the merits of those films he made 50 years ago. Katyn was up for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Woman on the Beach
Because I am a geek and a skeptic, I have already seen this film on import DVD, but I wouldn't miss the screening at MSPIFF for anything. This is Hong Sang-soo's seventh film, but the first to screening in the Twin Cities. Hong is one of the most interesting directors working today, but I'm afraid it took seeing more than one of his films to come to this conclusion. With each film I see, the more my respect grows and I have seen all his films except his newest Night and Day, just out in South Korea. A fair number of Hong's films are available on DVD here in the US and well worth checking out if you have the chance. Better yet, I would love to see a retrospective of his films (and a dialog would be nice too!)
Yet another film I am giddy about seeing. Aleksander Sokurov's last film The Sun, never screened here and has yet to even make it to DVD in the US. Thanks to the Brit's, I was able to low value of the dollar to the pound to good use and see The Sun (worth every penny and more.) I feared that Alexandra would be the same situation. I'm glad I'm wrong.
Another of the Crowned Hope films makes its way to the Twin Cities (the first being I Don't Want to Sleep Alone by Tsai Ming Liang witch screened last year at the Walker.) Although I screened this film and you are likely to read my stupid thoughts on it in the Strib, I wouldn't miss the Thursday screening with director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun present. Really a once in a lifetime experience.
Olivier Assayas is inconsistent in my opinion, but how can one not be curious about this film. Starring Asia Argento as the sexy globe-trotter. I'm banking on a wider release (or at least a DVD) on this one, because the only screening coincides with the Silent Light screening at the Walker, and there is no way I am missing that or anything Carlos Reygadas wants to say after the screening.
Yet another film that I bought on DVD when it came out in China last year. (The DVD is accompanied with Jia Zhang Ke's companion documentary Dong.) Although I work on Sundays, I am going to try and finagle an early leave to see this one on the big screen. Still Life is so quiet and sanguine that it's big ideas, hidden just beneath the surface, will take you by surprise.
Patti Smith: Dream of Life
I have no idea if this is a good documentary or not, but Patti Smith pretty much dominated my jaded youth. The first time I heard Horses in junior high, I just about couldn't believe it.
The story doesn't sound like much to me, but I more than welcome a new film from Tom Kalin who, as far as I can tell, has been busying himself with short and experimental films since Swoon (1992). Starring my favorite soap star Julianne Moore.
Thus is one that I screened as well, and I was blown away at this film's candor, fragility, and verisimilitude. Films like this have been coming out of China for a while, but Little Moth is wholly unique. This film will not come around again.
This film definitely has a target audience, but I don't think there is anyone out there (at least in the pool of people that will be attending the Festival) that wouldn't enjoy this documentary about Miss Gay USA. If the Film Fest is seeming a little heavy, this doc will perk you right up!
Encounters at the End of the World
Herzog is obviously a man that wears many film hats, and I am always excited to see what he is up to. This documentary is bound to be visually stunning and I'm glad I will get to see it in the theater.
I don't know what this is all about, but the blurb says I won't be disappointed. I guess we'll see about that.
No doubt there are many more worthy films to see, and here's hoping that I stumble into them by chance.