By Eric Henderson, WCCO

There is no want for film festivals tailored to whatever background you may either be a representative of or are simply interested in exploring.

Just today, the Out Twin Cities Film Festival announced their first premiere this coming June will be the documentary We Were Here, a look at how the gay community in 1980s San Francisco dealt with the onset of AIDS.

Much closer to today’s date on the calendar, though, are festivals covering two more artistically rich niches. And they both begin this upcoming weekend.

First up is the 18th annual Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival, which runs from March 24 through April 10 and boasts a robust schedule of nearly two dozen films.

The opening film, Anita, details the life of a young Jewish woman with Down Syndrome who lives with her mother and helps out at the family shop. The movie shows what happens when a violent event breaks down the barriers that separate Anita from the outside world. Here’s a clip:

The closing night film, The Matchmaker, is a stylish period piece about a suave Holocaust survivor who serves as a … well, something like a love spy, who makes his matches through techniques learned via pulp detective novels. (This is not your Fiddler’s “Matchmaker.”)

To see the entire schedule of films during the Jewish Film Festival, click here.

Also beginning later this week is the 3rd annual Italian Film Festival of St. Paul & Minneapolis, an effort by the Italian Cultural Center as well as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The roster of movies isn’t quite as large, but with only three days to the fest, it’s jam-packed with possibilities. There are nine movies in all, and they are all available to watch free of admission. (A donation, though, is much appreciated.)

The festival goes a long way toward showing that Italian cinema, which was unquestionably at the center of the art world in the 1940s and 1960s, is still a vibrant force to be reckoned with in the 2010s.

Click here for the full schedule.

Eric Henderson

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