Walker to screen “Time for Ilhan” in monthly film series

Filmmaking community members confront issues of national importance at the Walker’s “Local Voices.”

“Time for Ilhan,” directed by Norah Shapiro, follows the campaign of Ilhan Omar — a Somali-American activist.

Image courtesy of Norah Shapiro

“Time for Ilhan,” directed by Norah Shapiro, follows the campaign of Ilhan Omar — a Somali-American activist.

Maddy Folstein

For some, Saturday Night Live may seem like the ideal place to seek out perspectives on the milieu of this year’s election cycle.

But, the Walker Art Center is presenting an alternative: “Cinema of Urgency” — a monthly series that aims to look at the nation’s most pressing issues through film.

On Thursday, “Local Voices” — the latest installment of the museum’s monthly film series — will open the floor, and screen, to local filmmakers. Topics range from environmentalism to racism.

“We’re seeing that these filmmakers are taking on issues that are adding to the national debates,” Sheryl Mousley, the Walker’s associate film and video curator, said.

Although “Cinema of Urgency” has been around since 2008, the Walker added monthly installments to this year’s lineup.

“This [election] feels a little more urgent,” Mousley said.

Each installment of the series is followed by a discussion with community leaders, activists and intellectuals to further address issues seen in the films.

One film in Thursday’s “Local Voices” installment holds particular significance for University of Minnesota students.

“Time for Ilhan,” directed by Norah Shapiro, follows the campaign of Ilhan Omar — a Somali-American activist who won the fiercely-contested DFL primary against incumbent, Rep. Phyllis Kahn — in August 2016.

Omar will likely be the nation’s first Somali-American legislator next year, representing University of Minnesota constituents, in House District 60B.

“Within seconds of meeting her … I knew that [Omar] sort of had the potential to offer everything I was looking for. A charismatic, fascinating and complex subject who was going to be facing a journey [presenting] many obstacles,” Shapiro said.

Though the film is still in progress — excerpts will be screened on Thursday — she already has 300 hours of footage. Shapiro estimates she’ll need up to four terabytes of storage by the end of the filming process.

“My plan is to [let the viewer experience] the ups and downs of what goes into this kind of a campaign,” Shapiro said. “[Viewers] will be there inside the strategic planning, in the lead up to door knocking, meeting with constituents and will get to be there for the wild ride at the caucuses.”

She hopes that the audience will gain a certain respect for the entire workforce that makes up a campaign and the “super human capacity it takes to be a candidate — even in a state race.”

“Time for Ilhan” is just one of the seven films that will be screening Thursday. Another film, “Blood Stripe,” discusses the issue of PTSD following the Afghanistan war. “Killing Mookie” covers a police shooting that occurred before the Black Lives Matter movement came into prominence.

“Cinema of Urgency” responds to pressing issues. “Local Voices,” will bring them home.

What: “Local Voices,” an installment of “Cinema of Urgency”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday Sept. 15

Where: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave.

Cost: Free