I liked the FX TV series Fargo so much that I have booked a trip to Minnesota. Actually that is something of an exaggeration. I booked my flights for October 20th, and October 27th from Tampa to Minneapolis and back, on September 15th, nearly a full month before Fargo aired on October 12th.
I am heading north and west for the Twin Cities Film Festival which runs from October 21st to October 31st. I’ve never set foot in Minnesota and the closest I’ve ever been to Minneapolis is Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is about 270 miles east of Minneapolis.
But I’ve heard all about the place. The Mall of America, the downtown skywalks, Target Field, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Minnesota Twins who are famous for Joe Mauer, Rod Carew, and Harmon Killibrew to name just a few. Plus I’d expect to see a lake or two and why not? The state is called The Land of 10,000 Lakes for a reason.
I’ll try to fit in a museum and a park but mainly it will be movies. I’ll arrive on the afternoon of the 20th. Pick up my car rental. First stop will be the Showplace Icon Theater in St.Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, and about a half hour from the airport. This is the film festival venue and it is located in The Shops at West End. I’m heading there first to pick up my Press Credentials and my tickets for the films. Besides that, it is on the way to the hotel in Minnetonka which is about 5 miles from the film venue.
This will be the 6th Annual TCFF. The mission of this year’s festival is to support Homeless Youth. In keeping with that mission, TCFF will open with the adventure documentary, “A New High,” which received critical acclaim from the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film features a group of men and women who come together to climb out of homelessness and drug addiction through a recovering program that uses mountain climbing as a means of rehabilitation.
After check in on Day One – I’ll likely find a place for dinner, then take the night off.
Wednesday, the 21st is the day the film Festival opens. Here’s a list of the films I am hoping to see.
A New High – In the heart of downtown Seattle lies the Union Gospel Mission—a homeless shelter catering to the addicted and the abused. For these men and women, hope is a novelty. Self-esteem a luxury. Recovery a faraway ideal. But within the UGM is one man, an ex-Army Ranger, who believes in them. Believes in life. Believes in mountains. And he will attempt to use one of the most treacherous peaks in North America, 14,400 foot Mt Rainier, to give these recovering addicts hope again. Will their personal mountains be too steep to overcome?
Room – Starring Brie Larson and William H. Macy: Escaping from the captivity in which they have been held for half a decade, a young woman and her five-year-old son struggle to adjust to the strange, terrifying and wondrous world outside their one-room prison.
Band of Robbers – A modern-day retelling of Mark Twain’s iconic books, BAND OF ROBBERS is a comedic adventure that reimagines the characters as grown men, and small-time crooks. When Huck Finn is released from prison, he hopes to leave his criminal life behind, but his lifelong friend, and corrupt cop, Tom Sawyer, has other plans. Not ready to give up on his childhood fantasies, Tom forms the Band of Robbers, recruiting their misfit friends Joe Harper and Ben Rogers, to join them for an elaborate plan to find a fabled treasure. But the plan soon unravels, thrusting the guys on a wild journey with dangerous consequences…
Autism in America – A genuine and straightforward look into Autism in America told by the families and individuals living with Autism daily. Narrated by Chandra Wilson.
Pocha (Manifest Destiny) – Raised in the U.S., Claudia (22) is an undocumented immigrant living beyond her means in a twisted version of the American dream. When she’s arrested by the FBI for credit card fraud, Claudia is quickly deported to México. Speaking no Spanish and lost in her foreign “homeland,” she reluctantly takes refuge at her estranged father’s cattle ranch. As she clashes with her unyielding father, her attempts to return home to the U.S. thrust her into a dangerous bond with a foreign smuggler, Ricky. Caught between her father’s sermons, Ricky’s promises, and the encroaching military, Claudia must navigate a tightrope of impossible choices. Both a slow burning thriller and western, POCHA (MANIFEST DESTINY) follows the transformative journey of a young woman confronting the high price of American ideals in the dark places between two cultures.
Counter Clockwise – Counter Clockwise is sci-fi thriller/dark comedy about a brilliant scientist named Ethan Walker on the verge of inventing teleportation. But something goes wrong and he accidentally invents time travel. Ethan is hurled 6 months in the future where he finds a sinister upside down world. People are trying to kill him, he’s entangled in corporate espionage, and, worst of all, he’s the prime suspect for the murders of his wife and sister. In an attempt to change history and save his loved ones Ethan must travel back in time to uncover the mystery surrounding their deaths.
Lamb – When a man meets a young girl in a parking lot he attempts to help her avoid a bleak destiny by initiating her into the beauty of the outside world. The journey shakes them in ways neither expects.
Youth – From Paolo Sorrentino, the director of Italy’s Oscar foreign language winner THE GREAT BEAUTY comes YOUTH, about two longtime friends vacationing in the Swiss Alps. Oscar-winning actor Michael Caine plays Fred, an acclaimed composer and conductor, who brings along his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and best friend Mick (Harvey Keitel), a renowned filmmaker. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. The two men reflect on their past, each finding that some of the most important experiences can come later in life.
Brooklyn – BROOKLYN tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
This is Happening – At his father’s request, Philip Davis is to place his grandmother Estelle into a home. What he doesn’t plan for is younger sister Megan tagging along. A small time pot dealer, Megan uses the trip as cover for a five-pound marijuana purchase. When Estelle discovers Philip’s plot, she takes off for Seattle, unaware that her granddaughter’s drugs are stashed in the trunk of her car. The estranged siblings have no choice but to track Estelle down, reconnecting along the way.
Finding Noah – For over 2,000 years, man has been searching for the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. Though there have been many attempts, few have been able to fully explore the one place specifically noted in the Bible: Mount Ararat. With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, let alone those performing a thorough scientific investigation. Join director/producer Brent Baum and an expedition of intrepid explorers on a perilous trek up to Mt. Ararat’s desolate summit. There, using state of the art technology and real-time satellite imagery, this team of archeologists, scientists, and professional mountaineers will begin a grid work of exploration unlike any before, hoping to finally resolve the age-old question: did Noah and his Ark actually exist?
Leaves of the Tree – Patrick Messina (Eric Roberts), a once powerful lawyer thrown off track by a life threatening disease, is pushed out of his firm. At a meeting with his last client (Armand Assante), Patrick encounters a doctor from rural Sicily (Federico Castelluccio) who has discovered a “cure all” medicine made from the leaves of a centuries old Olive tree, he tends to on his Estate with former priest Hank (Kresh Novakovic). Patrick, his wife (Sean Young), and daughter (Sarah Sebastiana) go to Sicily with Executive (Marissa Brown) to identify the source of the tree’s power uncovers a profound truth: Is it science or a secret from ancient scripture? Past, present and future intersect through the ongoing struggle of doubt, belief and faith for all that come in contact with what may or may not be a symbol of life. Filmed 18 days in Sicily, at the Ancient Doric Temple of Segesta, the Castle of Erice, the Harbor, Castle and Churches of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and the Tonnara of Scopello. A beautiful family film that looks at the line between humanity and divinity.
It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong – In this sparkling romance, Ruby, a Chinese American toy designer from LA, visits Hong Kong for the first time on business. Finding herself stranded, she meets Josh, an American expat who shows her the city. Meandering through nighttime streets pulsing with energy and possibility, they fall into a winding and carefree conversation, buoyed by an undeniable attraction. Just as things start to look promising romantically for the pair, the night is stopped short by a surprising revelation. As effervescent as a perfect first date, this charming walk and talk romance takes full advantage of the chemistry of its leads, the playfulness of their exchanges, and the magical landscape that is Hong Kong at night.
That’s 13 films in six days, and all of the above synopses are from the TCFF Program Guide. I will have my Press Pass which will get me into the films – based on ticket availability of course so it is possible, there might be some scheduling changes for me.
I am excited about this trip. Last year at this time, I did the Mill Valley Film Festival in Marin County, just across the bay and north of San Francisco. This year I’m trying a different festival.
For additional coverage of this festival, visit Flixchatter.net, a film review blog run by Ruth Maramis. She lives there in Minneapolis, so even after I leave on the 27th, you can still get five more days of coverage and film reviews. Here is a link to Ruth festival preview post.