MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Even if you watched films nearly all day long for the entire month of April, it’d be a struggle to see every movie playing in this year’s Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.
The annual cinematic event kicks off Thursday night, and it’s slated to bring more than 170 feature films to the Twin Cities, not to mention an equal number of shorts. The titles hail from more than 70 countries, and there are loads of panel discussions, parties and even a virtual reality exhibit to wrap up the eclectic experience.
The festival runs until the end of the month, with new films playing daily at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis. With so many possible movies to see, picking just one or two to catch can be daunting – even with the festival website’s handy search features.
But be not discouraged. Figuring out what to see is part of the fun.
To help you with your choices, the cinephiles on the WCCO.com web team (Eric Henderson, Jonathon Sharp and Steve Swanson) have compiled some of the titles in this year’s lineup they’re most excited to see.
Tickets for the festival can be found here; they run $13 for the general public, with $6 early bird deals.
What We Want To See At MSPIFF 2017
7 p.m. & 7:20 p.m., April 13, St. Anthony Main Theatre
Get tickets to this while you can. The opening night feature from director James Gray (“The Immigrant,” “The Yards”) is a true story about a British explorer obsessed with finding a lost city deep in the Amazon jungle. This “Fitzcarraldo”-like epic, with an eye for the leather-and-khaki detail of the early 20th Century and sweeping Amazonian vistas, looks to be exactly the sort of thing you’d want to kick off an international film festival. — Jonathon Sharp
9:40 p.m., April 14, St. Anthony Main; 4:15 p.m., April 18, Uptown Theatre; 9:50 p.m., April 28, St. Anthony Main Theatre
Never overlook an Alejandro Jodorowsky film. The Chilean director/comic writer/tarot guru/composer can distill more imagination into a scene than most filmmakers can capture in an entire movie. This latest effort, “Endless Poetry,” is the second entry in a trilogy on himself as a young artist. Judging from the trailer, we can expect this to be a deep dive into the director’s upbringing, with insight into the forces and feelings that shaped Jodorowsky into the creative warlock he’s been for the last several decades.
7 p.m., April 14, St. Anthony Main Theatre; 4 p.m., April 15, Uptown Theatre
Co-written by South Korean master Park Chan-wook (“The Handmaiden,” “Old Boy”), this sophomore feature from Lee Kyoung-mi looks to be on par with the great moody, stylish mysteries coming out of East Asia in recent years. And since politics (and alleged wrongdoing) is thick in the social climate, “The Truth Beneath”‘s story of a candidate’s daughter disappearing just days before the election will likely ring particularly ominous. (Note: Lee Kyoung-mi will be at the screenings.) — Sharp
4:50 p.m., April 20, St. Anthony Main Theatre; 2:15 p.m., April 26, St. Anthony Main Theatre
The Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (“Certified Copy,” “Taste of Cherry”) was a genius. He died last year. This documentary, made by his friend and colleague, Seifollah Samadian, appears to allow us an intimate look at the man whose films were deceivingly simple, sublimely intelligent and undeniably unique. — Sharp
7 p.m., April 17, Uptown Theatre; 9:40 p.m., April 18, St. Anthony Main Theatre
12 Rods was perhaps the biggest Twin Cities band in the late 90s and early naughts. But just as they were poised to really blow up, things fell apart. Their Todd Rundgren-produced album “Separation Anxieties” was panned in 2000, and one by one the members drifted off to other bands, like The Bad Plus, Kid Dakota and Halloween, Alaska. Filmmaker James Francis Flynn honors the band, ala Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz,” by integrating interviews and archival footage with portions of their 2015 reunion show. — Stephen Swanson
7:05 p.m., April 19, St. Anthony Main Theatre; 4:45 p.m., April 24, Film Space, Founders Hall, Metro State University
In his final film, master filmmaker Andrzej Wajda (“Ashes and Diamonds,” “A Generation”) celebrates the life and struggles of avant-garde Polish painter and educator Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who was targeted by the Soviet-controlled government in the 1940s. — Swanson
2:20 p.m., April 16; 12 p.m., April 23 — both at St. Anthony Main Theatre
Immerse yourself in Syria’s civil war in this documentary about a group of men called the White Helmets, who serve as civilian medics in the epicenter of the country’s chaos. — Swanson
4:45 p.m., April 15; 9:45 p.m., April 17; 9:15 p.m., April 23 — all at St. Anthony Main Theatre
Set in Bamako, Mali — one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities — this crime story involves a young man who falls into the drug trade to help his family. But as if things weren’t dangerous enough, Al-Queda comes a knockin’. — Swanson
7:05 p.m., April 16; 4:30 p.m., April 26 — both at St. Anthony Main Theater
The late-period resurgence of Terence Davies isn’t as dramatic as Terrence Malick suddenly working on pace with Woody Allen at about a film a year. But arguably Davies’ 21st century works are, in their own way, as exciting. Cynthia Nixon is said to give an astonishing performance as Emily Dickinson, and the film itself reportedly works minor miracles. — Eric Henderson
12:30 p.m., April 16; 2 p.m., April 19 — both at St. Anthony Main Theater
Film festival fans are already in a position to enjoy being smothered by too much cinema, and there are few directors out there more willing to serve up, ahem, generous portions of cinema than Lav Diaz. His latest is a comparatively spry 226 minutes about a Filipino woman released from prison and out for revenge. — Henderson
4:45 p.m., April 24; 9:55 p.m., April 29 — both at St. Anthony Main Theater
Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues sure isn’t shy about sharing his artistically kinky impulses, and the uniqueness looks to rise to new levels with this loose adaptation of the story of St. Anthony of Padua, in which a bird-watcher who looks awfully good in and out of his REI gear is plunged into a sexually charged, unusual universe not unlike Alice’s Wonderland. — Henderson
10:15 a.m., April 15; 10 a.m., April 29 — both at St. Anthony Main Theater
A uniquely specific cultural exploration of the importance of girls’ schoolyard hand-clapping games? Sign me up! Because I’ve been curious about whether Miss Sue still lives in Alabama, sitting in her rocker, eating Betty Crocker, and watching the clock go tick-tock-tick-tock-bannana-wanna. And on some level, I always will be. — Henderson