Film festival April 11-25

The 43rd annual Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) at the Main Cinema, 115 SE Main in Minneapolis will include 140 feature films from more than 100 countries and cultures, according to MSP Film Society Executive Director Susan Smoluchowsi.
“We are unveiling our new website which lists online all the films that will be shown at the festival for people to peruse at will,” she said.
Finding that selection of films and preparing for the festival is nearly a yearlong process. “We give ourselves a couple of weeks after the festival ends before we start working on the next one,” Smoluchowski said. “But nowadays the preparation overlaps very significantly with everything else because we are programming all five screens, so it’s a monumental task.”
She said seven programmers, led by programming director Jesse Bishop primarily work on MSPIFF but also Cine Latino, and numerous other events held throughout the year. “We get well over 1,500 submissions for MSPIFF through the platform we use, or people we know and don’t know just send us films,” Smoluchowski said. 
“We watch all of them.”
Of the 140 features selected for the festival, only about 20 percent of them are submitted. “All others we find around the world at different festivals,” she said. Smoluchowski, who is on the team of programmers, said they each travel to a number of festivals but also are able to watch a lot of films online to pick selections.
 The opening night film is "Sing Sing," a movie about the upstate New York prison and a theater rehabilitation program for its inmates. Oscar nominee Colman Domingo stars as an inmate imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, who finds the theater program offers him hope. The closing film also deals with rehabilitation through theater. “Ghostlight” tells the story of Dan, a construction worker who finds himself drifting apart from his wife and daughter. He finds solace as he joins a community theater production of Romeo and Juliet. “The actors are in real life a family of mother, father and daughter,” she noted.
A special event during the festival is the awarding of the Al Milgrom award to famed cinematographer Sir Roger Deakins, whose range of films run from the “Shawshank Redemption” to “Bladerunner 2074” to numerous works with the Coen brothers. Deakins has been nominated for 16 Oscars and has won two. Deakins and his spouse, James, will participate in three events at the film fest
“We’ve got a new film by Agnieszka Holland, who was one of Al’s favorites,” Smoluchowski remarked. She was referring to Al Milgrom, who was a part of MSPIFF for decades. The film is “Green Borders,” and is about the migration on the Belarus and Polish border. “It tells about the people coming through to get to western Europe and the corruption of the border guards in both countries.”
For all information on MSPIFF, including ticket sales, parking, a schedule of films and events, go to


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