The Twin Cities Film Fest, already underway out at the Showplace Icon Theaters at West End, really ramps up this weekend to showcase some of the most important buzz worthy films of the year for the next two weeks. In addition to the film screenings, there’s also panels with filmmakers, shindigs, and a kid’s film day camp.
The festival has something for everyone—which can also mean there’s almost too much to see. So we quick checked in with Steve Snyder, Artistic Director to get some recommendations and a trailer-length peek at the Twin Cities Film Fest.
Secrets of the City: We often talk about MPLS + STPL as being a film town, since there’s so much great programming happening. Where do you see the Twin Cities Film Festival fitting into our hometown film scene?
Steve Snyder: So much great programming, yes, but also so much great filmmaking. Between narratives, documentaries, shorts, film competitions and commercial work, what’s struck me most, as the Twin Cities Film Fest has grown up, is how much networking I see happening, around the red carpet and inside the party venues. This is a great town for artists to work in the industry, too, and the increasing number of impressive Minnesota and Midwestern film productions premiering at our fest—films like “June Falling Down,” screening on the 28th—is proof of that. As for where the festival fits into the programming scene here . . . I split my time between New York City and Minnesota, and I see many parallels between our festival and the New York Film Festival, which happens every October as well. NYFF is less a film society approach and more a scaled-down curatorial effort. There are only a couple screenings each night, but the promise of NYFF is a higher bar for each screening, a richer discussion, a better chance to connect with your fellow filmgoers. That’s how we’ve modeled ourselves—see the Oscar titles before anyone else, discover local filmmakers, have a chance to connect with your fellow film lovers. That’s why we have parties and mixers every single night.
It was actually really great to see Lea Thompson at the TCFF gala a few weeks ago—what brought that appearance and award about?
We’ve actually been in touch with Lea for a couple years now. I’ve long been a fan of her movie The Trouble With the Truth, and somehow it never screened in Minnesota during its theatrical release, and we were actually trying to make the celebration happen at the 2015 festival. But she had filming conflicts last year, and then also this year, during the festival run, so we were thrilled to be able to invite her to our annual gala, celebrate her career, toast this amazing movie . . . it was such a special night.
Do you have any personal recommendations for things to see during the two-week-long festival? Name as many as you want, we’ll sit in as many cushy Showplace ICON Theatre seats as we can.
Oh man, I could live at the ICON. Movies all day; just go upstairs to the restaurant for my three square meals. I could get used to that.
A lot of festival regulars have been asking me: What should I see during TCFF, so I can be ahead of the curve? The next indie film, or Oscar contender, that people will be talking about 6 months from now? And for them, I’ve looked at the films I’ve programmed for prime time, and the filmmakers we’ve flown in, to be part of the fun, and I think these 6 rise above the rest, in terms of street cred, awards potential, and a good mix of genres. For those who may be attending for the very first time, hopefully this is also a nice mix to ease you in. (I’ve tried to streamline the details, but I’m happy to go in depth with anyone who wants more info. Email me directly at steve.snyder @ twincitiesfilmfest.org)
Monday, Oct. 26—The Eagle Huntress, 6:15 PM. This was a smash hit documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, about a teenage girl in Mongolia who’s trying to become the first female in thousands of years to join the men in her community in hunting with a golden Eagle. Some critics have put it on their shortlist for a potential Best Documentary nomination at the Oscars. We’ve scheduled it as our Official Centerpiece—and as the father of a 2-year-old girl, I found it absolutely inspiring. Even better: It’s narrated by Daisy Ridley, the newest Jedi of the “Star Wars” universe.
Wednesday, Oct. 26—The Architect, 6:15 PM. I fell in love with this at the Seattle International Film Festival—a slow-burn comedy about a married couple looking to build a house who choose one eccentric architect. Parker Posey and Eric McCormack star in it, and are spot on in ramping up the quirky dynamics of this unusual couple.
Wednesday, Oct. 26—I Do?, 8:45 PM. This is already the success story of this year’s TCFF. It’s a documentary about love marriage and the complications of long-term commitment made by local filmmaker Joe Brandmeier that’s already sold out its screenings. So we just booked an extra screen for the 26th. It’s so sweet, and sensitive, and also serious . . . and it’s a wonderful breakthrough for a Minnesota filmmaker. Even better: For those wanting a nice date night out at the festival, you scan see both The Architect AND I Do? on Wednesday.
Thursday, Oct. 27—Trespass Against Us, 8 PM. This one’s fresh out of the Toronto International Film Festival—a new crime thriller starring Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson. Obviously, given the A-list talent, there’s been huge interest for this one.
Friday, Oct. 28—Baby, Baby, Baby, 6:45 PM. This was the biggest surprise of the film search this year. It came our way through the Newport Film Festival, and it’s a pretty unique comedy about a guy thrown into despair through a breakup with his girlfriend. The writing is so sharp and the cast is so incredible—featuring Brian Klugman, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, Kelsey Grammar, William Shatner—it’s probably our best romantic comedy of the year.
Saturday, Oct. 29—Burn Country, 8:20 PM. If you want celebs, and buzzworthy films, and huge parties, this right here should be your pick. I saw the movie with a different title (The Fixer) at the Tribeca Film Festival. It’s a great little mystery about an immigrant who becomes an aspiring journalist, and then finds himself chasing an unlikely crime story. And starring opposite James Franco and Oscar-winner Melissa Leo is Dominic Rains—a great actor with THREE films at this year’s festival (the others are the dark comedy Funeral Day and the neo-noir thriller The Loner) — who is being hailed for his breakout performance here. Dominic will be here in person, to receive our North Star Award For Excellence. And he’ll be at the huge closing night party, which is always the highlight of the festival. A ticket to this film will get you into the party. Check it out!
Let’s get the Best Buy Filmmaker Academy for the kiddos in here, what’s this program all about?
It’s open to kids ages 8 to 18, is totally free thanks to Best Buy’s support, and gives kids the chance to see a free shorts program, meet the filmmakers, and then design their own movie poster and edit their own movie trailer. It’s networking, mentorship, community building . . . this is what TCFF is building towards. Supporting the future arts community that will help our filmmaking community grow even larger. We’re trying to be the change that we want to see. Parents can still sign up their kids btw—limited spots remain here: http://bit.ly/tcff-freeday16. 10 AM-4 PM on Sunday.