I've only been back in Minnesota for two years, but it's been more than enough time to know that the drama surrounding Minnesota Film Arts (MFA) and the Oak Street Cinema has been, in a word, turbulent. I missed most of the big blow up that happened a few years ago, but suffice to say rumors of the Oak St.'s death have been tossed about willy-nilly for months. In fact, yours truly wrote a eulogy for "The Oak" just last March.
Somehow, even though I've volunteered at the MFA-operated Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival the last two years, I've managed to keep above the political fray with this issue. I'm just out see good movies, and I don't know enough about what happened or why to lose sleep over other people's grudges. Let's just say I fully support local movie outlets like Pepito's Parkway Theater, Cinema Revolution and Take Up Productions, but I was also devastated by the thought of the Oak St. being torn down this September to make room for unnecessary condos.
Well, I got an email this week announcing an apparent full fall line-up at The Oak, and I know I'm not the only person in town who was surprised - not only by the simple fact that there are going to be films playing there more than once a month, but also by the list of the actual films that are going to be playing.
Check this out:
This weekend: A Soul Cinema Tribute to Isaac Hayes (screening Shaft, Wattstax, and Truck Turner)
Sept. 26-Sept. 29: Diva (Jean-Jacques Beineix)
Sept. 27: Manhattan Short Film Festival
Sept. 30 - Oct. 1: Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnias)
Oct. 3 - Oct. 9: Alain Robbe-Grillet series (screening Last Year at Marienbad, Trans-Europa Express, L'Immortelle, Eden and After)
Oct. 10 - Oct. 23: Jean-Luc Godard series (screening Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Breathless, Alphaville, Pierrot Le Fou)
I would say that's a pretty impressive rebound from MFA Director Al Milgrom & Co.
Unfortunately, I think it's going to be tough to work many of these into in a busy personal fall schedule for me (plus all of the new releases coming out, plus the Walker's Mike Leigh retrospective!), but good grief, people, we need to put personal loyalties aside and get to some of these screenings. Who knows how much longer we have...(I'm trying to leave its fate a little more open-ended this time around)...