April 29, 2008

(Movie) News You Need to Know: MSP Blues

As the already fantastic Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival winds down this week, some troubling news is surfacing for local film fans.

I haven't made it obviously known on Getafilm yet, but I'm no fan of St. Paul Pioneer Press film critic Chris Hewitt, who fortunately takes a break from the movies today and writes a terribly-titled article about the current state of filmmaking in Minnesota. The news isn't good. A group of local filmmakers staged a rally yesterday at the state capitol to urge legislators to pass the renewal of the "Snowbate" incentive, the lack of which has apparently forced the production of some recent films elsewhere. Both Juno and Leatherheads take place in Minnesota, but neither was filmed here, and we lost out to Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively, for the upcoming Public Enemies (Michael Mann) and Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood), both of which I expect to be massive hits. One ray of hope remains with native sons Joel and Ethan Coen, who are holding casting auditions for A Serious Man this weekend, with filming set to start later this year.

In more alarming news, MinnPost reports today that the Oak Street Cinema situation is no joke, as they cryptically mention a finalized deal. Back in March I wondered why there was no urgency when the Star Tribune printed the death certificate, and it sounds as though these three Minnesota Film Arts founders were of the same mindset. They make an emotional plea and ask some important questions, but it appears to be too little too late. On the other hand, you wouldn't know that from talking to Al Milgrom. Who has the real details about what's going on? Maybe I'll do some amateur sleuthing before the film festival is up...


  1. Really? I had no idea that JUNO took place in Minnesota. I saw it four times and tried to place the state with no success. All I knew was that it was sufficiently north on the map to have four distinct seasons, which didn't tell me much at all. It was filmed around my territory and that's probably why I stopped thinking about it at some point. Just easier to find the familiar landmarks while watching it, if you get my drift.

    But it does sound as if your particular situation blows, Danny. To be frank. Any time movie theatres close (unless they have plans for a GORGEOUS easily accessible multiplex to take its place, which isn't likely - it will probably be something cool and luxurious like a parking lot) it's a bad deal for everyone. Plus it's always good for any state to have SOME film production.

    Sincerely hope it improves with time.

  2. Minnesota is the Promised Land. Seriously, it's awesome. I don't think I'd want to live anywhere else, and I mean that with all sincerity.

    Which is why this news pisses me off. We have some fabulous film locations to pick from. It was obvious to me that Juno was in Minnesota (St. Cloud, Ridgedale Mall, etc.)... it even felt like we were being celebrated in that movie. So to have it filmed elsewhere feels like they were thumbing their noses at us.

    I understand there are financial considerations, and filmmaking is a business as well as an art, so it just seems to make sense that we would provide incentives for productions to be made here.

    So sad about the Oak. I ride the 4 bus to work sometimes, and there's a dilapidated theater on Johnson St in Northeast... looks like it was called the Hollywood? I get so sad when I think about the great old theaters dying a slow death.

    In related news, I applied the other day for a part-time job at AMC. Ugh.

  3. Miranda, there's only some sly referencing to MN in Juno, since Diablo Cody famously tapped it out a local Target Starbucks. Her seat is probably bronzed by now.

    Yeah, the other news is a little sad coming right in the middle of the film festival. There's no room for anything in the Oak Street's space - except for the Oak Street Cinema. The worst part is I'll have to watch it happen as I go by every morning.

    Great comments, Nayana. I was especially bummed to hear Clint Eastwood wouldn't be racing sweet cars down Rice Street.

    I didn't know anything about The Johnson Theater until you mentioned it, thanks to Cinema Treasures. Looks like it could still be amazing.

    Hate to segue with a celebration of your future at AMC, but I guess you'll at least be a real movie fan working there. My college roommate worked at an AMC and it payed dividends for my habit.

    Back to the Oak Street - somehow I missed the buzz over at MNSpeak, but it's since been brought to my attention, and it's worth checking out some inspired and well-informed comments from those in the middle of the fray. Sounds like people are pretty upset for the most part. Break out the pitchforks and torches...


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