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MSP International Film Festival showcases movies from around the world

Films from a variety of foreign countries create a collection of diverse cultures right here in the Twin Cities.
Image by Shalom Berhane
The MSP International Film Festival at The Main Cinema on Monday. The MSPIFF features over 200 films until April 25.

The MSP Film Society’s 43rd annual International Film Festival had its opening night on Thursday. 

The festival opened with a showing of the movie “Sing Sing.” The film, based on a true story, follows Divine G, played by Colman Domingo, as he attempts to keep his group together while navigating the emotional toil of life in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility. 

When describing how the real-life story of the Rehabilitation Through the Arts program inspired him, director Greg Kwedar said, “It was the tone, it was the playfulness of this work in this oppressive environment. Even though this razor wire is choking you out, something is happening that is heartwarming.” 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison attended the premiere, giving an introductory speech about the high incarceration rates in the U.S. compared to other countries.

The film was a hit among the audience, causing eruptions of laughter along with solemn silences throughout the screening.

“No One Asked You,” directed by Ruth Leitman, will be screening April 20 and April 21. The documentary follows Minnesota native Lizz Winstead over six years as she fights for abortion rights in the U.S.

“This film festival has always featured the stories of people who are doing the real work, whether that be activism, culture change or artists breaking new ground. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of it this year, especially because it’s where my roots are,” Winstead said.

Along with films from Minnesota and other parts of the United States, movies from around the globe are a part of the over 200 films shown in the festival. Films from Asia, the Middle East and Europe form a well-rounded schedule of diverse perspectives.

“The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is a chance to discover a wide variety of new films from all over the world,” programming director Jesse Bishop said. “Some highlights we’re excited for folks to experience are ‘LaRoy, Texas,’ a Coen brothers-esque hit man caper, and ‘The Beast,’ Bertrand Bonello’s fantastical centuries-spanning sci-fi epic.”

On April 23, the festival will host cinematographer Sir Roger Deakins, who worked on big-name films such as “Blade Runner 2049,” “Skyfall” and “1917.” He has also done cinematography for a large chunk of the Coen brothers’ filmography, which is why his Q&A session will be accompanied by a screening of the movie “Fargo.”

Ten blocks of short films will also be shown, with a new block every day until April 22. These shorts are divided into categories such as “Animation Round-Up,” “Friends = Family” and “Mortality.”

The festival closes on April 25 with a screening of the movie “Ghostlight,” about a construction worker acting in a local theater production of “Romeo and Juliet.” As time passes, he finds community among his peers and confronts his drift away from his wife and daughter.

The MSP International Film Festival is an excellent way to experience cinematic culture from around the world and engage with industry professionals who have a deep background in film.

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