April 7, 2009

27th Annual MSPIFF Schedule & Trailer Now Available

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:

Tokyo Sonata
Trust Us, This Is All Made Up
The Country Teacher
Rudo y Cursi
Food, Inc.
Lemon Tree
Song of the Sparrows
Three Monkeys
Rough Aunties
The Necessities of Life
Il Divo

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
Marcello Marcello
Los Bastardos
The Mermaid
One Man Village
Heart of Fire
The Chaser
Secrets of the Grain
King of Ping Pong
American Violet
Breaking Upwards
The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
The Infinite Border
Blind Loves
A Walk to Beautiful
Personal Che
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...


  1. What, no love for Somers Town? That's easily my must see film of the fest.

  2. Gotta admit, Somers Town didn't jump out at me. But - looking through the synopsis, it could turn out to be a nice little coming-of-age story. Is there something more I should know about it?

  3. The director did Dead Man's Shoes and This is England, both of which are fantastic, This is England especially.

  4. Yep, that's something more I should know. Haven't seen either of them but I remember This Is England got a ton of love whenever it opened last year or the year prior. Sounds like this has a "softer" story, so maybe it will find greater appeal.

  5. This is England is truly an amazing film. While I had Assassination of Jesse James as my #1 that year, This is England was a pretty close second. And AOJJ is probably in my all-time top 10.

    Dead Man's Shoes is an outstanding revenge film, but unlike most, is heavy on drama and character development and relatively light on violence for the genre.

    BTW, I heard today that Bobcat has officially dropped out from attending MSPIFF. Don't know what that means for World's Greatest Dad. They really don't have time to pick a new opening night film, but it wouldn't be MSPIFF without last minute changes.

  6. Well we can agree that Jesse James was an amazing achievement. I had it as #2 behind NCFOM, and I've been wanting to see it again pretty badly.

    Kind of unrelated, but thinking about This Is England reminds of Green Street Hooligans, which was on TV the other night and was confirmed as a good idea gone bad.

    Oh, Bobcat. Doesn't he know what he's going to miss?!!?

    They don't even need to get a major movie to open it. They could have just opened with Food, Inc. or Rudo y Cursi or Moon, all of which will probably be pretty popular. Pick a smaller movie and market it like crazy instead of holding out for The Big One that might not come.

    Doesn't look like I'm going to be able to make opening night anyway, though, so I should keep my yap shut.

  7. I love, love, LOVE "Rumba." Whatever you do, don't miss it. It's like a modern day "M. Hulot's Holiday."

  8. It was your plug of it that made it pop from my schedule in the first place. Whatever I do, I should see M. Hulot's Holiday, too.

  9. I also highly recommend "Three Monkeys," which is one of the 5 best films I've seen so far this year. But "Rumba" is just one of those movies I completely fell in love with.

  10. I know, that's on my list as well. The PR people for Three Monkeys emailed me like 6 months and I half thought it was a joke (that title? come on!). Then I realized it wasn't, but I also realized it would probably never make its way here. Fortunately, it has.


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