Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) announced the complete line-up of 180+ films in the upcoming 40th edition running Thursday, May 13 through Sunday, May 23 as a hybrid festival.
The festival will launch on Thursday, May 13th with a special outdoor screening of the documentary SUMMER OF SOUL (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, at Como Lakeside Pavilion, 1360 Lexington Parkway N, St. Paul, MN. SUMMER OF SOUL will also be available to screen virtually for 48 hours, beginning at 7pm on Opening Night, at MSPfilm.org.
In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten – until now. SUMMER OF SOUL shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach, and more.
SUMMER OF SOUL premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival Line Up
– Listed by Programs
MSPIFF40 SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS
After Antarctica MSPIFF40 Closing Film!
Directed by Tasha Van Zandt, USA, 2021, Documentary
In 1989 Will Steger travelled across Antarctica, the longest and most treacherous crossing of the continent in history. Now, over 30 years later, director Tasha Van Zandt follows him again across the continent, which is slowly coming apart due to the global warming crisis. MINNESOTA MADE
Directed by Euros Lyn, UK, 2020, Fiction
The inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred by small town bartender Jan Vokes (Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites.
Directed by Robert Connolly, Australia, 2020, Fiction
A country town with plenty of secrets and a city cop (Eric Bana) with a troubled past are the ingredients of this intense, tension-laced thriller set in the Australian outback, hinging on dual mysteries. A gripping, polished film that is currently Australia’s box office champ
Riders of Justice (Retfærdighedens Ryttere)
Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark, 2020, Fiction
Military man Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) returns home to care for his teenage daughter after his wife is killed in a train accident. But when a survivor of the wrecked train surfaces claiming foul play, Markus begins to suspect his wife was murdered in one of the most exhilarating and irresistible films of the year.
Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It
Directed by Mariem Pérez Riera, USA, 2021, Documentary
If you are a fan of musicals, you surely know Rita Moreno from her fiery performance as Anita in the 1961 film West Side Story. And if you were a child of television in the 1970s, you know her as a mainstay on PBS’ Electric Company. But do you know the rest of her incredible eight-decade story?
The Sparks Brothers
Directed by Edgar Wright, UK/USA, 2021, Documentary
Edgar Wright’s paean to the Los Angeles band Sparks, one of the most influential art rock bands of all-time. With a fivedecade career that defies easy categorization, their 25 albums are considered so original and forward thinking that they changed the music scene in America and Britain forever.
Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) MSPIFF40 Opening Night Film!
Directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, USA, 2021, Documentary
In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary part music film, part historical record—created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion.
THE MILGROM TRIBUTE TO AGNIESZKA HOLLAND
The MSPIFF International Auteur Tribute has been renamed The Milgrom Tribute to honor Film Society Founder and longtime MSPIFF Director Al Milgrom, who passed away in December 2020 at the astonishing age of 98. The Milgrom Tribute recognizes a filmmaker who has made a significant contribution to the medium of feature filmmaking, in fiction or non-fiction, and whose artistic talents have been instrumental in promoting a higher regard for the art of film internationally.
Academy Award-nominated director Agnieszka Holland enjoyed a long relationship with the Film Society and its founding director Al Milgrom, visiting several times over the years to present her films. She was a personal favorite filmmaker of Al Milgrom and is the ideal choice for our very first Milgrom Tribute.
The Milgrom Tribute to Agnieszka Holland will include screening her latest film, Charlatan, as well as two of her most widely acclaimed films, Europa Europa, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Mr. Jones, and a live Zoom conversation with Ms. Holland during MSPIFF40.
CONVERSATION WITH AGNIESZKA HOLLAND – SUNDAY MAY 16
Join us for a live Zoom conversation with acclaimed Polish writer and director Agnieszka Holland. Ms. Holland is known as a trailblazing artist whose storytelling often elevates outsider perspectives and whose work as an auteur is widely recognized as deeply personal and historically significant.
Directed by Agnieszka Holland, Poland/Czech Republic/Slovakia/Ireland, 2020, Fiction
Few true stories tread the thin line between good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. He won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for “urinary diagnosis.”
Directed by Agnieszka Holland, Germany/France/Poland, 1990, Fiction
Few true stories tread the thin line between good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. He won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for “urinary diagnosis.”
Directed by Agnieszka Holland, Poland/United Kingdom/Ukraine, 2019, Fiction
Agnieszka Holland’s thriller, set on the eve of world WWII, sees Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world. Meanwhile an ambitious young journalist travels to Moscow to uncover the truth behind the propaganda.
NEW AMERICAN VISIONS
Directed by Jake Yunza, USA, 2020, Fiction MINNESOTA MADE
In 2019, director Jake Yuzna put out an open call in Minneapolis to criminal justice de-escalators to explore, through performance, the failures they saw in their work and in daily life. The result is an unconventional and eye-opening look at life in America. MINNESOTA MADE
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Water
Directed by Rosalynde LeBlanc & Tom Hurwitz, USA, 2020, Documentary
In 1989, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones created a ground-breaking ballet as a direct response to the AIDS crisis, which had devastated the New York arts community and claimed the lives of untold artists, including Jones’ dance company co-founder and life partner, Arnie Zane.
Directed by Philip Harder, USA, 2021, Documentary MINNESOTA MADE
A cinematic documentary about the legendary wrestler Baron von Raschke, best known as “The Claw.” Step into the pro wrestling ring with Baron von Raschke and he’ll recount his journey from shy Nebraska Olympic hopeful to international infamy. The director-producer tag team of Minneapolis-based film director Philip Harder and von Raschke’s only son Karl has created a documentary unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
The Co-op Wars
Directed by Deacon Warner, USA, 2020, Documentary MINNESOTA MADE
Today, Co-ops are multi-million dollar businesses, so successful they’ve prompted mainstream grocery stores to stock organic food. But in the 1970s, it almost ended before it began, as internecine battles and even hostile takeovers threatened this burgeoning movement.
Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo
Directed by Carine Bijlsma, USA/UK/Netherlands, 2019, Documentary
Devil’s Pie—D’Angelo follows Grammy Award-winning singer D’Angelo, one of the most successful R&B acts in recent years, but whose struggle with numerous demons–not to mention a public eager to sexualize and hound him–made him walk away from the business for 14 long years
End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock
Directed by Shannon Kring & Pearl Daniel-Means, USA/Finland, 2020, Documentary
In 2016, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe established a camp called Sacred Stone with the intent of stopping the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which desecrated ancient burial and prayer sites. Director Shannon Kring filmed the epic story of the Indigenous women who led this peaceful rebellion.
Enemies of the State
Directed by Sonia Kennebeck, USA, 2020, Documentary
In 2010, the FBI raided the home of 25-year-old Matt DeHart for child pornography. What at first seems like an open-and-shut case, spirals into claims of a government cover-up involving Wikileaks and Anonymous. Sonia Kennebeck’s new documentary is a bizarre spy story with twists, turns, double-crosses and paranoia.
Directed by Nicole Riegel, USA, 2021, Fiction
In this beautiful and unflinching coming-of-age story, a young woman is accepted to college but hasn’t got the money to escape her forlorn midwest town. Looking for the cash, she joins forces with a reckless scrap metal crew.
Directed by Megan Huber & Wyatt McDill, USA, 2020, Fiction MINNESOTA MADE
Samantha and Travis have been trying to break into movies for years. When their dream project is green-lit, the producers want Travis for the male lead, but a younger actress for the female lead. What is Samantha to do but put on her infamous “Alien Play” at the Fringe Festival?
Directed by Aaron Maurer, USA, 2021, Documentary
Aaron Maurer’s fascinating and insightful documentary peels back the layers of the Coachella Valley and brings to light a diverse range of stories, from wealthy snowbirds to marginalized farmworkers, creating an indelible portrait of one of California’s most complex communities.
Karen Dalton: In My Own Time
Directed by Richard Peete & Robert Yapkowitz, USA, 2020, Documentary
Even the most devoted fans of the 1960s folk music scene often fail to recognize the name Karen Dalton. But this singular talent influenced a number of musicians, including the likes of Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. Directors Robert Yapkowitz and Richard Peete’s intimate documentary reveals a name you’ve probably never heard of and will not soon forget.
Directed by NC Heikin, USA, 2020, Documentary
Reggie Austin is in San Quentin prison, serving a life sentence. When a film crew goes to the prison to film a documentary and stage a concert to honor sax great Frank Morgan (who once served there), Reggie steps up to perform. It changes his life forever.
Lily Topples the World
Directed by Jeremy Workman, USA, 2021, Documentary
Lily Havesh is a young woman with a unique passion… for assembling and toppling dominoes. Director Jeremy Workman follows Lily around the world as she created dozens of mind-bending moving sculptures in this aweinspiring
Ma Belle, Ma Beauty
Directed by Marion Hill, USA/France, 2021, Fiction
Bertie and Fred are musicians, living a somewhat carefree life in the French countryside. Fred’s a musician from France, Bertie’s a New Orleans jazz singer struggling with depression. When Lane, an old flame, shows up, she reignites passion in both in Marion Hill’s gorgeous and surprisingly emotional debut that earned a Sundance Audience Award.
Not Going Quietly
Directed by Nicholas Bruckman, USA. 2021, Documentary
Ady Barkan never intended to be a hero. Always passionate about social issues, he works as an organizer in California, until a diagnosis of ALS takes him to the front lines of health care reform, sometimes going face-to-face with Senators and members of Congress in the fight for affordable health care
Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera
Directed by Kristin Atwell Ford, USA, 2021, Documentary
A lone gunman silhouetted against the fading sun, stampedes and shoot outs, a masked rider, cows, tumbleweeds, sheriffs and cowboys and cowgirls–is the stuff of a western or the stuff of an opera? Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera proves it can be both.
Directed by Pacho Velez, USA, 2021, Documentary
Trying to find a date is hard enough in “normal” times, but when a global pandemic hits, the challenge requires ingenuity, patience… and online dating apps. Director Pacho Velez traverses the streets of New York to interview a wide range of his fellow New Yorkers who, like himself, turn to various dating apps in their search for love.
Directed by Carlos López Estrada, USA, 2020. Fiction
Born of director Carlos López Estrada’s mind-blowing interaction with a workshop where performers from across
the City of Angels recited fearlessly personal texts, Summertime is a gloriously moving narrative experiment part urban musical and part sociological art.
Directed by Andres Parra, USA, 2021, Documentary
Terminally Optimistic follows the life journeys of three women with metastatic breast cancer. Eva, Krissy and Kim are adapting to their failing bodies in a variety of ways, because they must. Life has changed drastically after diagnosis, and they must reinvent themselves and accept a new “normal.” This is the story of these three METAvivors, their families, caregivers, and communities.
Directed by Debbie Lum, USA, 2021, Documentary
At Lowell High School in San Francisco, the Asian American majority student body is made up of high-performing kids, who are gunning for spots at the most elite universities, and who are becoming more and more stressed as the pressure mounts to meet their own high expectations, as well as those of their parents.
Directed by Benjamin May, USA. 2021, Documentary MINNESOTA MADE
What is a wet house? It’s a residential facility for aging alcoholics, where they’re allowed to drink, and perhaps a last refuge in an unending storm of neglect, self-abuse and despair. Benjamin May’s compassionate documentary pulls no punches nor casts any aspersions.
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Directed by Emily Kunstler & Sarah Kunstler, USA, 2021, Documentary
Who We Are brings ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson’s searing Town Hall presentation on the legacy of white supremacy in America to life, as he travels across the country confronting both America’s tragic past and our urgent present-day reality.
Women is Losers
Directed by Lissette Feliciano, USA, 2020, Fiction
San Francisco, late 60s. High-schooler Celina Guerrera is smart, savvy and hoping for a way out of her bleak neighborhood. When she gets pregnant by her Vietnam-veteran boyfriend and facing tragedy, Celina rolls up her sleeves… and fights.
This selection of fiction and documentaries from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland offers a snapshot of new Nordic cinema and a nod to Minnesota’s heritage.
Run Uje Run (Spring Uje spring)
Directed by Henrik Schyffert, Sweden, 2020, Fiction
Swedish cinema’s sleeper hit and the winner of the Gold Bug for the country’s best feature, this appealing autobiographical dramedy weaves together scenes of the eponymous protagonist’s everyday life with humorous music he composes and sings. Uje is Uje Brandelius, radio host and keyboard player for the band Doktor Kosmos.
Song Called Hate
Directed by Anna Hildur Hildigrandsdóttir, Iceland, 2020, Documentary
Young artists make a stand and attempt to create a meaningful debate through their art as the Icelandic BDSM techno band Hatari takes the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel in 2019. Is it even possible to participate within a system while simultaneously rejecting it?
Directed by Ronnie Sandahl, Sweden/Italy/Denmark, 2020, Fiction
A coming-of-age drama about 16-year-old Swedish soccer prodigy Martin Bengtsson’s burning obsession in a
world where everything, and everyone, has a price tag. Winner, Best Flash Forward Film, Busan; Best Nordic Film,
Göteborg; Youth Jury Prize, Lübeck.
Directed by Zaida Bergroth, Finland, 2020, Fiction
The Moomins are beloved cartoon characters, familiar to readers around the globe. But less is known about their creator, the bisexual, Swedish-speaking, Finnish visual artist and author Tove Jansson (1914-2001) and her surprisingly unconventional life. This engaging biopic goes a long way towards remedying that.
Wildland (Kød & blod)
Directed by Jeanette Nordahl, Denmark, 2020, Fiction
Following a car accident, which kills her mother, 17-year old Ida moves in with her estranged aunt (an amazing Sidse Babett Knudsen) and her aunt’s grown sons. Like the Australian hit Animal Kingdom, this female-driven crime drama offers a radical meditation on family, loyalty and the need to belong.
NEXTWAVE GLOBAL FEATURES
Directed by Tracey Deer, Canada/USA, 2020, Fiction
Based on Mohawk filmmaker Tracey Deer’s own childhood, Beans is the story of a 12-year-old girl coming of age during the tumultuous summer of the 1990 Oka Crisis. When a conflict over land rights escalates in her community, Beans is forced to grow up quickly and find her unique voice and power.
The Club of Ugly Children (De Club van Lelijke Kinderen)
Directed by Jonathan Elbers, Netherlands, 2019, Fiction
When President Isimo declares “Keep it clean!” he doesn’t mean the city streets, he means ridding the schools of children who don’t fit into narrowly defined ideals of beauty. Paul, one of the “ugly” boys, escapes in Jonathan Elbers’ engaging and entertaining dystopian thriller.
Directed by Atsuko Quirk, USA, 2019, Documentary
Fifth graders from Brooklyn lead a challenge against the pervasive use of plastics, asking probing questions about the local and global impacts on people, wildlife, and water systems. Using their own data to testify and rally City Hall, the young activists take action in their own cafeteria to eliminate all single-use plastic.
My Brother Chases Dinosaurs (Mio fratello rincorre i dinosauri)
Directed by Stefano Cipani, Italy/Spain, 2019, Fiction
Jack’s younger brother, Gio, has Down syndrome. When they were little, Jack interpreted his parents’ explanation of Gio being “special” to mean he must have superpowers. As they grow older, teenage Jack struggles to redefine himself, spinning a web of lies that’s painfully awkward to untangle until his brother Gio shows him the way.
My Dad is a Sausage (Mijn vader is een saucisse)
Directed by Anouk Fortunier, Belgium/Netherlands, 2021, Fiction
When 12-year-old Zoe’s dad suddenly burns out on his bank job and inexplicably decides to become an actor, she is the only one to encourage him. Essentially a buddy movie with a mid-life father and introverted daughter in the leading roles, this charming dramedy shows the importance of following your dreams.
Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Superpowers (Tottori: Sommeren vi var alene)
Directed by Arild Østin Ommundsen, Norway, 2020, Fiction
Two Norwegian sisters are off on an overnight hiking trip with their free-spirited father in the woods. What could go wrong? When their daring dad takes an accidental tumble into a gorge, 5-year-old Billie and 9-year-old Vega must find their superpowers to save him.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Directed by Caroline Link, Germany/Switzerland, 2019, Fiction
9-year-old Anna is blissfully ignorant of adult concerns over the election of Adolf Hitler until her family is forced to flee Germany and Anna must suddenly learn how to survive in this epic historical drama by Oscar-winner Caroline
Young Warriors (Pequenos guerreiros)
Directed by Bárbara Cariry, Brazil, 2021, Fiction
Enjoy the simple pleasures of a lighthearted family road trip through Brazil. An ode to director Bárbara Cariry’s childhood memories, Young Warriors is the story of a fisherman who is inspired by a dream to hit the road with his family in search of adventure and festival.
Back to the Wharf
Directed by Xiaofeng Li, China, 2020, Fiction
Song Hao was a young man with a promising future. Ready for college, he pushes himself harder and harder, until fate throws him a curve. Believing he’s killed a man and orphaned a child, he flees his small town. But when his mother’s funeral calls him back home, has he reopened deadly grievances?
Directed by Pema Tseden, China/Tibet, 2019, Fiction
From acclaimed director Pema Tseden, Balloon finds Drolkar, the wife of a Tibetan sheep farmer, who is pregnant yet again, in violation of China’s family planning policies. Their faith dictates they keep the baby, but failing to abort it will result in a fine that will destroy the family farm.
Fire in the Mountains
Directed by Ajitpal Singh, India, 2021, Fiction
Chandra and her husband, Dharam, run a homestay for tourists in a small Himalayan village, making little money. When Chandra wants to treat her paralyzed son with modern medicine and Dharam wants to pay for a ritual to remove a curse, their disagreement threatens to split the family apart.
Directed by Anysay Keola & Sai Naw Kham & Pham Ngoc Lan & Kulikar Sotho & Anocha Suwichakornpong,
Cambodia/Laos/Myanmar/Thailand/Vietman, 2020, Fiction
Crafted from a desire to examine the Mekong River, the tenth largest in the world, MEKONG 2030 is a collection of five short narrative films from as many filmmakers and countries that imagine the future of this important
Mickey On The Road
Directed by Mian-Mian Lu, Thailand, 2020, Fiction
Mickey and Gin Gin are best friends in Taiwan, two young women, rebellious and seemingly going nowhere. Mickey cares for her depressed mom, Gin Gin gets by as a Go-Go dancer. When Gin Gin discovers a pregnancy by a boyfriend who lives in Guangzhou, China, they take a road trip that will change their lives.
Under the Open Sky
Directed by Miwa Nishikawa, Japan, 2020, Fiction
After serving 13 years in prison for murder, ex-yakuza henchman Mikami (an outstanding Koji Yakusho) is a free man. But life on the outside is not what he expected: growing up a gangster didn’t give him the tools to navigate his new world. Writer/director Miwa Nishikawa’s diligently researched adaptation is superbly nuanced; filled with moments of humor, tenderness, and ferocity.
Writing with Fire
Directed by Rintu Thomas, India, 2021, Documentary
In India, Dalits are the lowest caste, often referred to derisively as “untouchables.” In Uttar Pradesh, a northern province, a group of Dalit women do the unthinkable in any caste they start their own news network.
Directed by Yung Chang, Canada/China, 2020, Documentary
Following a group of citizens of Wuhan in the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yung Chang’s compassionate documentary examines what it means to be human in the face of overwhelming disaster.
Ane is Missing
Directed by David Pérez Sañudo, Spain, 2020, Fiction
Lide works as a security guard at a controversial railway construction site in Basque Country. When her daughter Ane vanishes, Lide needs to find out if it’s a kidnapping, or worse–is Ane involved in something over her head? Winner of Goya Awards for Best Lead Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best New Actress.
Directed by Paz Fábrega, Costa Rica, 2020, Fiction
Luisa is an architect, who teaches creative workshops in her spare time. One day, she discovers 17-year-old Yuli in the school bathroom. She has failed to induce an abortion, and Luisa takes the girl in under her wing, in Paz Fábrega’s warm and meditative feature.
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet (El perro que no calla)
Directed by Ana Katz, Argentina, 2021, Fiction
Sebastian is a quiet, unassuming man who loves a dog who likes to bark. He can’t leave the dog at home, can’t take it to work, so he has to find a new job. When a meteorite hits, poisoning the air, Sebastian’s almost otherworldly compassion is suddenly his greatest gift.
Directed by José María Cabral, Dominican Republic, 2020, Fiction
During the 1965 Revolution in the Dominican Republic, freedom fighters struggled to reinstate President Juan Emilio Bosch Gaviño to power. When the American military invades, the soldiers hole up in a seaside brothel, and suddenly a forlorn band of prostitutes is forced to pick sides.
Directed by João Paulo Miranda Maria, Brazil/France 2020, Fiction
In this haunting film, Cristovam is an Indigenous Black man from rural northern Brazil, who has recently relocated to the south to work in a milk factory run by a strange community of Austrians. After another day of abuse and indignity, he retreats to a house of oddly familiar antiques, and enters a hallucinatory world, trapped within the collective memories of generations of victims of colonization.
The Night of the Beast
Directed by Mauricio Leiva-Cock, Colombia/Mexico, 2020, Fiction
The Night of the Beast finds us in Bogota, Colombia on a day two friends’ dreams are to come true; they’ve got tickets to see their favorite band play for the first and maybe only time in their lives. The band: Iron Maiden! But, like metal itself, this day is a slow build filled with epic moments and pandemonium.
Directed by Ángeles Cruz, Mexico, 2021, Fiction
Three stories become tied in a knot during the patron saint’s celebrations in San Mateo, a town in Oaxaca’s Mixteca region. Ángeles Cruz’s searing examination of sexuality in the face of masculinity in this Indigenous town is also a compassionate portrait of people in love, in danger, and in grief.
Oaxacalifornia: The Return
Directed by Trisha Ziff, Mexico/USA, 2021, Documentary
The Mejia family emigrated from Oaxaca to Fresno, California 40 years ago. Filmmaker Trisha ZIff filmed the family in 1996, and returns now to see the changes that have settled over them, and follows the family on their return to Mexico.
Window Boy Who Would Also Like to Have a Submarine
Directed by Alex Piperno, Uruguay/Argentina, 2020, Fiction
From acclaimed Uruguayan poet and filmmaker Alex Piperno, comes this quiet, sly and meditative surrealist film about loneliness. In two seemingly disparate tales, a sailor on a cruise ship discovers a portal that takes him to a woman’s apartment in Montevideo, and a shack in rural Philippines contains an evil portent.
Wishlist (La lista de los deseos)
Directed by Álvaro Díaz Lorenzo, Spain, 2020, Fiction
Eva and Carmen are two women who meet in the worst place: the doctor’s office, waiting to hear the results of their cancer screenings. So Carmen has an idea: why don’t she and Eva rent an RV with her best pal, Mar, make a list of things they’ve always wanted to do… and do them.
IMAGES OF AFRICA
Directed by Fradique, Angola, 2020, Fiction
In this strange and beguiling film, air conditioners–central to life in Angola–begin to suddenly fall out of windows in the capital Luanda, maiming and even killing people. When his broiling boss demands an air conditioner, Matacedo must wander his beloved city and find one that works.
Captains of Zaatari
Directed by Ali El Arabi, Egypt, 2021, Documentary
Two teenagers are stuck in Zaatari, the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees. Both are stars of the camp soccer team, but one also excels in the classroom, while the other relies solely on the sport as an escape. Will the arrival of a world-famous soccer club deliver their dreams, or crush them?
Downstream to Kinshasa (En route pour le milliard)
Directed by Dieudo Hamadi, Congo/France/Belgium, 2020, Documentary
20 years after the devastating Six-Day War, a battle between Rwandan and Ugandan forces that was part of the larger Second Congo War, a group of survivors journeys down the Congo River, seeking compensation that has been promised them for years.
This Is My Desire (Eyimofe)
Directed by Arie Esiri & Chuko Esiri, Nigeria, 2020, Fiction
Two young Lagosians seek to escape the daily oppressions in Africa’s largest city, with aims to head to Spain and Italy to find a better life. Shot in gorgeous 35mm, twin directors Arie and Chuko Esiri’s attention to exacting detail creates a layered world you’ve never seen before.
When We’re Born
Directed by Tamer Ezzat, Egypt, 2019, Fiction
This tender, humanist social drama makes innovative use of music to link three stories where everyday life and ambitions conflict, forcing hard choices. The musical narration is composed by Amir Eid, lead singer/songwriter of the popular band the Cairokees.
9 Days in Raqqa (9 jours à Raqqa)
Directed by Xavier de Lauzanne, France, 2020, Documentary
Raqqa, Syria was a city under siege. Bombed, wrecked, barely holding on, it struggles to rebuild. Leila Mustafa is a Kurd and Syrian and the new mayor of Raqqa. When a French writer crosses the border to meet her, she has only 9 days to capture Mustafa’s story. This is it.
14 Days, 12 Nights (14 jours 12 nuits)
Directed by Jean-Philippe Duval, Canada, 2019 Fiction
Isabelle is a mother whose grief over the accidental death of her adopted daughter, Clara, is overwhelming. Acting on an impulse to learn more about the young woman, she travels to Vietnam to try and find her daughter’s birth mother. Canada’s submission to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film.
Directed by Ruthy Pribar, Israel, 2020, Fiction
A quiet but powerful, emotionally acute drama, Asia centers on an attractive Russian émigré nurse and single mother, and her relationship with her ailing teen daughter, played by Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”). Winner of Best Actress, Best Cinematography, and the Nora Ephron Award at Tribeca Film Festival.
Directed by Burhan Qurban, Germany/Netherlands/France/Canada, 2020, Fiction
An African immigrant struggles to make a new life for himself in the big city in director-co-writer Burhan Qurbani’s audacious, neon-lit reinterpretation of Alfred Doblin’s classic 1929 novel. Forget the 1980 R.W. Fassbinder version; this multi-prizewinning film has its finger on the pulse of our time.
Careless Crime (Jenayat-e bi deghat)
Directed by Shahram Mokri, Iran, 2020, Fiction
Four extremists in modern-day Iran plan to set fire to a movie theater screening a film called Careless Crime… which is about a movie screening of The Deer… which is what was playing in real life in another theater 40+ years ago when extremists burned it down to protest the Shah in Shahram Mokri’s mind-bending film-within-a-film.
Directed by Visar Morina, Germany/Belgium/Kosovo, 2020, Fiction
In the face of daily micro-aggressions (and worse) from his German work colleagues, a prickly Kosovo-born pharmaceutical engineer becomes increasingly paranoid and plunges into an identity crisis. Winner of Best Film, Sarajevo Film Festival; Kosovo’s submission to the Academy for Best International Film.
Directed by Srdan Golubović, Serbia, 2020, Fiction
This poignant drama inspired by real-life events follows the odyssey of a Serbian man who refuses to give up on justice and the right to raise his children. Winner, Audience Award, Ecumenical prize, Berlin Film Festival.
Directed by Ivaylo Hristov, Bulgaria, 2020, Fiction
An ironic fable about intolerance, this blackly comic drama shows small-town xenophobia lurch into overdrive when the widowed former school teacher takes in a Malian refugee. Winner, Grand Prize, Tallinn Black Nights; Best Film, Varna.
Directed by Slávek Horák, Czech Republic, 2020, Fiction
This refreshing, humorous, warts and all creative biopic follows the metamorphosis of Václav Havel from carefree playwright of the 1960s to banned and jailed human rights activist to eventual President of Czechoslovakia. Be inspired once again by Havel’s courageous battle against oppression and the sacrifices he made.
Here We Are
Directed by Nir Bergman, Israel/Italy, 2020, Fiction
This moving tale of parental devotion focuses on stubborn, aging divorcé Aharon, who has devoted his life to raising his autistic son, Uri, now a young adult. Uri’s mother feels it might be time for him to live in a specialized home, but both Uri and Aharon dread the prospect.
I Was, I Am, I Will Be (Es gilt das gesprochene wort)
Directed by Ilker Çatak, Germany/France, 2019, Fiction
This touching, humanist drama centers on the relationship of a Kurdish gigolo and an airline pilot. Given the
opportunity to study and work in Germany, Baran moves from a troubled past to a complicated present, with the
prospect of a promising future not far from his grasp.
Little Girl (Petite fille)
Directed by Sébastien Lifshitz, France, 2020, Documentary
“When I grow up, I’ll be a girl.” So claims 3-year-old Sasha, whose working-class parents struggle to help her navigate in a world that doesn’t want to accept that just because Sasha was born a boy, she is truly a little girl.
Love, It Was Not
Directed by Israel Maya Sarfaty, Israel/Austria, 2020, Documentary
Lovely young Jewish prisoner Helena Citron attracted an unlikely affection at Auschwitz: Franz Wunsch, a highranking SS officer fell in love with her and her bravura singing voice. Their forbidden relationship lasted until her miraculous liberation. Thirty years later, she receives a request to testify on his behalf.
Directed by Alex Camilleri, Malta, 2021, Fiction
The colorful luzzo boats, for generations made out of wood, painted in bright yellows, reds, greens, and other colors, are a trademark of Maltese fisherman. When Jesmark finds his precious boat leaking, it might spell disaster, in this Sundance award-winning drama from director Alex Camilleri.
Meat the Future
Directed by Liz Marshall, Canada, 2020, Documentary
By 2050, the worldwide demand for meat is expected to double. Faced with the dual challenges of international meat producers not being able to meet demand and the destructive environmental impact of harvesting animals, former Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti thinks he has the answer.
Directed by Bassam Tariq, United Kingdom, 2020, Fiction
MC Zed (Riz Ahmed) is a talented and angry young man, a British-Pakistani rapper seemingly at odds with the world and his family in equal measure. He’s channeled that anger into music, but on the cusp of stardom, his own body betrays him.
The Monopoly of Violence (Un pays qui se tient sage)
Directed by David Dufresne, France, 2020, Documentary
As part of the so-called “yellow vest” movement, French citizens took to the streets to oppose government policies. The state responded with unprecedented levels of police violence. Filmmaker and journalist David Dufresne gathered a cross-section of citizens to argue, discuss and examine the role of violence in French society, and, by extension, the world.
My Donkey, My Lover & I (Antoinette dans les Cévennes)
Directed by Caroline Vignal, France, 2019, Fiction
Eager for the perfect summer vacation with her very married lover, Antoinette receives a disappointing shock: he’s going on a trip with his wife instead. So Antoinette decides to climb the mountain herself in this heartfelt comedy.
Directed by Pascal Plante, Canada, 2020, Fiction
Whenever Nadia leaves the pool, it feels as though she’s leaving a part of herself behind. Only 21, she’s exhausted from the rigors of being an Olympic swimmer, and decides to retire from competitive swimming after the Tokyo Olympics. Now that she’s finished, where does she go next?
Never Gonna Snow Again (Sniegu juz nigdy nie bedzie)
Directed by Małgorzata Szumowska, Poland/Germany, 2020, Fiction
A Ukrainian masseur uses his magic touch to change the lives of his wealthy but sad Polish clients in this intriguing social satire from the director of Mug (MSPIFF 2019). A combination of magical realism and moments of sober beauty and subtle humor, starring Alec Utgoff from Stranger Things.
New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel
Directed by Jennifer Abbott & Joel Bakan, Canada, 2020, Documentary
From the filmmaking team behind The Corporation, the groundbreaking documentary that exposed corporations as psychopathic “citizens,” comes The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, which exposes their supposed turn toward being good citizens, and how this is a smokescreen for even greater malfeasance.
No Ordinary Man
Directed by Aisling Chin-Yee, Canada, 2020, Documentary
“How would I summarize the story of Billy Tipton? He was a trans-masculine jazz musician.” So speaks actor and activist Marquise Vilsón, in Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s brilliant No Ordinary Man, the story of jazz musician and trans icon Billy Tipton.
One-Way to Moscow (Moskau Einfach!)
Directed by Micha Lewinsky, Switzerland, 2020, Fiction
Loosely inspired by a real-life spying scandal in the late 1980s, this light-hearted Swiss dramedy follows a goodnatured detective forced by his Zurich superiors to go undercover at a radical lefty theater whose personnel are suspected to have Communist sympathies.
Playing With Sharks
Directed by Sally Aitken, Australia, 2020, Documentary
Valerie Taylor isn’t your typical filmmaker — she is also a champion diver and noted marine conservationist, who has dedicated her life’s work to capturing images of sharks, most famously in the blockbuster Jaws. Director Sally Aitken’s stunning documentary captures this fearless Australian photographer and activist.
Directed by Farid Bentoumi, France/Belgium, 2020, Fiction
Nour has just been hired as an infirmary nurse at the chemical plant that employs her father. Soon she discovers numerous employees with terminal diseases and uncovers a pollution scam that threatens her town and her father’s way of life.
Redemption of a Rogue
Directed by Philip Doherty, Ireland, 2020, Fiction
Irish playwright Philip Doherty’s debut feature is a Bible-inspired, pitch black comedy about a prodigal son returning to his hometown to seek salvation for his sins. And it’s a neo-musical. Winner, Best Irish First Feature, Best Irish Film, Galway Film Fleadh.
Directed by Bohdan Sláma, Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2021, Fiction
Life in a fictitious Czech village, located on the border of Austria. The population of Czechs, German-speakers and Jews are torn between conflicting identities and nationalities at the best of times, but with the advance of the Nazis, they must choose – allegiance to the Reich or Czech nationality and poverty.
Should the Wind Drop (Si le vent tombe)
Directed by Nora Martirosyan, Armenia/France/Belgium, 2020, Fiction
In the landlocked Nagorno-Karabakh Republic there sits a small airport, unused. Alain (Grégoire Colin), a French engineer, is tasked with determining whether or not the new airport is structurally sound, which puts him right in the middle of the last vestiges of a civil war.
Summer of 85 (Été 85)
Directed by François Ozon, France, 2020, Fiction
Summer, 1985: teenager Alexis is out sailing off the Normandy coast, when his boat capsizes and he is saved from drowning by 18-year-old David. Soon, there is a deep bond between the two, in this nostalgic, tense, and even delightfully campy tale from director François Ozon.
Directed by Ida Panahandeh, Iran, 2020, Fiction
Cinematic magical realism meets hard-edged drama in Ida Panahandeh’s stunning look at the life of Titi, an Iranian Roma Gypsy who earns pennies cleaning hospitals, becomes a surrogate mother… and saves the world from a rogue black hole.
Directed by Rana Kazkaz & Anas Khalaf, Syria/France/Switzerland/Belgium/Qatar, 2020, Fiction
A riveting thriller about an Arabic-English translator for the 2000 Syrian Olympic team in Australia, forced into exile after a fateful mistranslation, who decides make a clandestine return to his homeland after his activist brother goes missing during the Arab Spring.
Directed by Sophie Dupuis, Canada, 2020, Fiction
When an explosion causes a mine to collapse in the remote Val d’Or region of Quebec, trapping several men, Maxime, a troubled young man must suppress his demons, and summon all his courage, and training, to save them.
Directed by Christian Petzold, Germany/France, 2020, Fiction
Auteur Christian Petzold recasts the ancient myth of a mysterious water sprite to contemporary Germany where lovely, melancholy Undine works as a historian at a Berlin museum. But she is fated to kill the man who betrays
her. Winner, FIPRESCI prize, Best Actress, Berlin Film Festival.
The Whaler Boy (Kitoboy)
Directed by Philipp Yuryev, Russia/Poland/Belgium, 2020, Fiction
In Chukotka, a small Russian village populated by whale hunters, Leshka experiences typical teenage problems: loneliness, longing to find love, and feeling misunderstood by his friends. Those experiences, related with breathtaking cinematography and a soupçon of surrealism, make the story universal and relatable to audiences beyond its remote location.
Directed by Cathy Brady, Ireland/UK, 2020. Fiction
Inseparable sisters raised in a small town on the Irish border, Lauren and Kelly’s lives were shattered with the loss of their father during the “The Troubles” and later, the mysterious death of their mother. Years on and left to pick up the pieces after her sister abruptly disappeared, Lauren is suddenly confronted with the family’s dark and traumatic past when, after being reported missing for a whole year, Kelly returns home, feral, dazed, and enraged.
Standing up for what is right, fighting injustice, and taking charge of the conversation.
Keon – Directed by E.G. Bailey, USA, 2020, Fiction
Keon, a young Black photographer, meets up with his brothers, Amiri and Dre, and they embark on a journey to acquire a new camera to complete his college entrance portfolio.
Buried – Directed by Isaac Calvin & Seth Calvin, USA, 2020, Fiction
Brian, a CEO of a major car company, wakes up on a desolate beach buried up to his neck in sand. His captor? Mara, a member of an environmental terrorist organization.
Never Turn Your Back to the Wave – The Travis Jordan Story – Directed by Sequoia Hauck, Reginald Blackwell Jr., Aaron Matthew Cannon Panaligan, USA, 2020, Documentary
The family of Travis Jordan fights for justice after he is killed by Minneapolis police officers.
Salt River Water Walk – Directed by Krista Davis, Jenny Zander, USA, 2020, Documentary
Follow the Salt River Water Walkers on an Indigenous-led ceremony as it creates community and builds relationships with the earth through the shared goal to care for the water.
Ignited States – Directed by Jud Nichols, USA, 2020, Documentary
A bold and scrappy documentary that follows a modern-day uprising in Minneapolis and beyond, as protestors demand justice for George Floyd.
SHORTS: Animation 1
Part 1 of a selection of local and international animated shorts.
Charlotte’s Photographs – Directed by John Akre, USA, 2020, Animated
The forgotten snapshots of a nurse in 1940’s Minneapolis take us into the world of women’s work in this animated musical documentary.
Sad Beauty – Directed by Arjan Brentjes, Netherlands, 2020, Animated
In a heavily polluted world, a young woman mourns the disappearance of animal species. When she falls ill due to a bacterial infection, nature appears to send her a message in her hallucinations.
Copycut Scanfill – Directed by Colin Stanhill, USA, 2021, Animated
Photos collapse and colors collide in this jauntily abstracted cartoon!
Pilar – Directed by Yngwie Boley, J.J. Epping, Diana van Houten, Netherlands/Belgium, 2020, Animated
A dangerous intruder gives Pilar the chance to discover the wild animal within and the means to escape the postapocalyptic village she lives in.
Green Grass – Directed by Michael Greco, Canada, 2020, Animated
Two hopeful migrants make the arduous journey to what they’re sure must be a better life only to confront the reality that their destination may no longer be the place they believed it was.
The Fire Next Time – Directed by Renaldho Pelle, United Kingdom, 2020, Animated
Rioting spreads as social inequality causes tempers in a struggling community to flare, but the oppressive environment takes on a life of its own as the shadows of the housing estate close in.
Empty Places – Directed by Geoffroy de Crécy, France, 2020, Animated
Completed before the global lockdown, Empty Places is an ode to the melancholy of machines.
Poise (Suspensão) – Directed by Luís Soares, Portugal, 2020, Animated
Lying on the bed of a small room, a man is in a stalemate, unable to decide. Time is suspended within and outside of him, in the minimalist room and in the geometric city.
The Winter (冬) – Directed by Xin Li, Australia, 2020, English, Animated
Walking in a snowy forest, a peasant sees a mysterious deer and goes to follow it. The deer allures him and the peasant even wants to catch it.