Your average NYC socialite rarely travels further east than The Hamptons. But filmmaker Margaret Betts isn’t your average heiress.

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Daughter of developer/film producer/George W. Bush’s best friend Roland Betts, Margaret has looked beyond her playground of Manhattan, and set her sights on HIV-stricken Africa.

Her 2010 documentary, The Carrier (which first premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival) has Betts traveling to rural Zambia to tell the story of a farmer named Mutinta. In her late twenties, Mutinta is a devoted mother and one of three wives to a promiscuous husband who has infected her with HIV. Mutinta’s plight is both tragic, and tragically uncommon in her village.

Her brave and lonely journey to assure the health of both herself and her unborn daughter is finely realized by Betts, who emphasizes Mutinta’s optimism through enrolling in a ground-breaking local program called “Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.” This program is a beacon of hope in a society that pits concerned yet powerless mother against indifferent and all-powerful fathers. This gender conflict is heavily addressed in the documentary, as Betts points her camera at the tribal elders who must reconcile the traditions and mores that have helped the disease spread so effectively.

Although The Carrier has several moments that feel staged, the power of the narrative and the beauty of the cinematography compensates well enough. The association between Africa and HIV/AIDS is firmly embedding in most American minds. The Carrier offers to take this association and give it a beautiful, relatable face that can’t be denied.

The Carrier plays tonight at 7:30 p.m., as well as May 1st at 5 p.m.


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Other Highlights: Tuesday, April 17

Sweet Movie is curiously touted as a film for chocolate lovers (perhaps the still provided by MSPIFF’s website of a woman in a chocolate bath provides a clue). A lovely lady ditches her husband, who happens to be the world’s richest man, and takes to a carefree European river barge to sow some oats. Oh, and it’s Yugoslavian! (4:30 p.m.)

Faust is the latest from Russian master Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark). It’s a wild and dazzling take on the well-worn fable of a gifted man whose search for a woman to love leads to a deal with the devil. (7 p.m.)

New Skin For The Old Ceremony takes the 1974 Leonard Cohen album of the same name, and goes song-by-song with a different artist reinterpreting the music in visual form. This celebration clocks in slightly under 40 minutes. (9:30 p.m.)


For the festival schedule, and a complete listing of all the movies being shown, click here. Ticket information is available here.

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For more of the WCCO Movie Blog’s coverage on the MSPIFF, click here.