After weeks of private stewing and public grumbling on other local blogs about the lack of information available on the 27th Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF), I can now stop whining and start planning. As always, MSPIFF is happening despite the annual doubts that it wouldn't. Click here for the schedule.
Granted, the titles and brief synopses of the movies have slowly trickled onto the website since mid-March, and I've also known about a number of the titles because I've been writing a few reviews of them for the Strib. But to acquire the interest of the general public it's a bit of a close call to get this out so late again this year, especially when the festival starts in just nine days. I'll admit, however, that releasing the schedule so late hasn't seemed to affect audience turnout in years past.
And, while the schedule is important for getting people to show up, the quality and diversity of films is even more so. Glancing through the titles and countries it appears that this year is again heavily loaded with European (especially Icelandic?) films, but it's still an interesting bunch. Let's take a look at some highlights:
Opening Night: World's Greatest Dad (note that this isn't actually on the schedule, but it's based on something I read on, you know, the internet, so chances are it's true).
UPDATE: The new opening night film will be the Sundance darling romantic comedy, 500 Days of Summer.
Other highlights: There are a number of movies that will likely be opening nationwide later this year. Here are a few to keep an eye on:
Trust Us, This Is All Made Up
The Country Teacher
Rudo y Cursi
Song of the Sparrows
The Necessities of Life
Directors are also going to be present at a handful of these - never an opportunity to pass up if you can help it.
Global Lens 2009 Films: I reviewed a couple of Global Lens 2008 films last year as the played at the Walker Art Center. This year they're going to be folded into MSPIFF, and you can preview the whole "class" here. I recommend Mutum and Song From the Southern Seas, and on recommendation from Kathie Smith I'm planning to see Sleepwalking Land.
Other Randoms: I really want a page of indexed films like you can find in the hard copy of the program each year. But since that isn't out yet, all I can do is glance over the schedule and photos online and make guesses on what I haven't already seen that might interest me:
Salt of This Sea
One Man Village
Heart of Fire
Secrets of the Grain
King of Ping Pong
The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
The Infinite Border
A Walk to Beautiful
Living in Emergencies: Stories of Doctors Without Borders
Letters to the President
Wow. That's plenty, isn't it? Nice job by MFA chief Al Milgrom and MSPIFF programmer Ryan Oestreich in getting this many potentially great movies lined up. It will be tough to top the quality of last year's festival (my recap), but I think there could be some nice surprises in this list.
And finally, no MSPIFF would be complete without the popular trailer that plays before each screening. Thanks to Euan Kerr, I've found what appears to be a completed version of this year's trailer, created by Mojo Solo/Jesse Roesler. It's not embeddable, but you can click here to see it.
More to come on the festival in the next week...