But before I get to films, I want to express tremendous gratitude for all that the Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul does in our community, but especially for MSPIFF. I'm thankful for all the folks who clean up after (the collective) we leave at night, who keep the toilet paper stocked, who empties the trash, who printed tickets and sorted out snafoos, who made sure the films started on time, who kept line management smooth and as conflict-free as possible. I'd like to especially thank Eric & Jesse for an excellent and continually improving experience at MSPIFF.
I liked almost everything I saw (Not Minnesota 13: From Grain to Glass or How Love Won, and found the low production quality of Summer Help beyond distracting from the story). In this list are a few not in my original post.
*Dog Lady: So few films show such freedom for women. Director Laura Citarella said the film was made by five women and ten dogs, and they filmed it every weekend, on their dime, for three years. Feral women are always seen as witches, and this feral woman grabs your heart and won't let go. The director called her "free". I tweeted my view. It's stunning and I'm looking for another opportunity to see it. Maybe even own it. The trailer doesn't do the film justice.
The Homecoming: Humor is hard to pull off. Humor that is about deep human flaws is even harder. This film balances well emotional pain and humor, and does so without letting anyone off the hook for their imperfections. It's one of my festival favorites. I'd love to see this one again.
*Operation Arctic: When people asked for my favorites as we waited in line for movies (or the bathroom), this is one I'd talk about. According to MSPIFF's kids' program coordinator, director Grette Boe-Waal made this film entirely on site. The winds are real. The blizzards are real. Only the bear was one of several actors. It's accessible and is one of the most exciting kid's film I've seen in a long time. Operation Arctic isn't for the little ones. It's frightening in spots. But I loved it. Another one to see again for me. Warning: don't go looking for the trailer because it has serious spoilers.
*Women Outward Bound: Director Maxine Davis does a beautiful job telling the stories of the first women to go through Outward Bound in 1965. And she was one of them! A comment during the Q&A: "Seeing women being badass is really great."
*Kick It: A film about a middle school girl who plays soccer and gets diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (I had the chronic version of the same disease). I cried the whole time. Her doctor (Dr. Moustache) even looked like my BMT doctor. Bring tissues. This is a kids' film, but once again not for the littlest ones.
*The Fits: I'm still pondering this one. Its powerful visuals supported the story of one Black girl coming of age. I think this won't be the last time we see the star, Royalty Hightower, on the big screen. Slated for release summer 2016.
*The Innocents: (At the time of this writing, the Music Box Films website was DOWN or BROKEN, so no link) Another kind of film I like, one that shows how women are so often the currency of war.
Here Is Harold: I usually pick too many serious films at MSPIFF so I make myself check out the funny films, especially Scandinavian films. I'm glad I picked this one about a former furniture store owner named Harold Lunde who, after his wife's death, tries to kidnap one of the founders of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad. I'm STILL laughing about the scene where Harold wraps himself in bubble wrap to protect himself from vicious dogs. Classic Scandinavian humor.
Walls: The distributor's website describes this film as a cinematic experience. I'd agree. I haven't seen such adept cinematography, editing, or script craft in a documentary in a long time. Maybe ever. Trailer.
Tickled: This documentary becomes a thriller very quickly. After you watch the film, check out the Jane O'Brien Media Facebook page. I feel sorry for all the men in their posts. Spoiler alert. Jane O'Brien Media is not a woman but a very creepy and abusive man. US release: June 17, 2016. Trailer.
*In the Game: This film follows an inner-city girl's soccer team for four years. It ain't Hoop Dreams, that's for sure. Trailer.
*A Light Beneath Their Feet: A coming of age story, and a compassionate story of a person with mental illness, this film directed by Valerie Weiss shows the director's skill in tracing a challenging narrative with subtlety. Looking forward to whatever she does next. Trailer.
*Exotica Erotica: This 1.25 hour documentary took director and writer Evangelia Kranioti nine years to make. I'm having a hard time finding words to describe it. A meditation on being a sailor or a woman who makes her living servicing them? That doesn't do the film justice. One bit from an IMDB page on the film that doesn't have any other information: "Sailors are like terrorists. They arrive in ports with a bomb called love and throw it. And do you know what happens? The bomb explodes when they go away and they never come back, destroying the hearts of all the girls in the neighborhood. How strange - To love somebody who pays you..."
Liza the Fox Fairy: I'm still delighted by this story that's like Amelie if it were directed by Tim Burton. The film is as wonderfully quirky and dark as the trailer.
Presenting Princess Shaw: I gave this film 6/5*. No, that's not a typo. If you can see it with Princess Shaw doing a Q&A afterward, DO IT. Worth your time. Magnolia has picked up the film, so you'll get a chance for a viewing. Apparently, it'll be streaming on May 27th! Before then, check out theater showings at various Landmark theaters. Trailer.
The Anthropologist: a documentary about global climate change but on an intimate human scale. It could be bleak but it offers hope, not in our ability to change the course of climate change, but in our human ability to change ourselves. Trailer.
The Seventh Fire: I hope this one gets distributed in the US. Right now it's making the rounds in Canada. An important documentary about Native American gang activity in one small Ojibway community in Minnesota.
Alias, Maria: This film didn't get great reviews in general, but I agree with what Roger Ebert's site says: "What we are left with is an image of a woman gaining self-knowledge and developing courage in a way that’s often understated but nevertheless powerful." You're not likely to see this one in the theaters, sadly. Trailer.
I got to meet Deepa Mehta! She signed my Beeba Boys ticket and even responded to my Twitter pic of her receiving an award for her body of work. If you haven't seen her films Hollywood/Bollywood, Water, Fire, Earth, or Beeba Boys, check them out. The latter is a film that's much more made for Hollywood than the previous three, but worth your time.
See you all in 2017!