Ten Films, 10 Sentences
“Supa Modo,” photo courtesy of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
Talking about the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) ends up including a huge line of astounding numbers: Two hundred sixty-eight films from 75 nations, six screening venues, and more than 40 screenings with the director and subjects attending all pack into the 17 days that make up the festival’s 37th year.
While MSPIFF has a number of program categories, such as Science on Screen, Nextwave, Minnesota Made and Dark Out, the spotlight for 2018 is Chasms and Bridges: Cinema and the Search for Common Ground. Stories and art have long been recognized as a way to bridge perceived divides and to bring to light to obscured voices, and these films, whether fictional or real, show how no matter how old we are, how we identify ourselves, where we live and how much money we have, common threads still unite us.
Check out 10 films from this Spotlight category plus a note on one of the three short compilation screenings. However, as this list makes up a mere 9.5 percent of the total feature length films at the festival and a quick sentence doesn’t begin to encapsulate them, make sure to look through the MSPIFF website or the MSPFilmSociety app to find what films speak to you April 12-28.
“RBG,” April 12, two screenings. Tickets are sold out, so come early for rush tickets. Follow the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and see how she became the political and feminist icon she is today—plus, learn about the moments that just made her, her. Director Betsy West will be attending, and tickets include admission to the Opening Night Party at Jefe: Urban Hacienda.
“Black Kite,” April 14, 15, 18. When the Taliban outlaws flying kites, Arian can’t stand the thought of his daughter’s freedoms being stripped away and vows to fly a kite with her in this film shot over two weeks while the production crew evaded the real Taliban. Director Tarique Qayumi will be attending.
“Wajib,” April 14, 18, 25. The dynamics of leaving or staying in Palestine creep into this dramedy by the “preeminent female filmmaker in the Arab world” about a father, teacher and visiting son as they hand deliver the latter’s wedding invitations.
“What Will People Say,” April 15, 19, 21. After high school student Nisha’s parents discover the Western lifestyle she lives outside of their traditional Pakistani household, they send her to live with her aunt in Pakistan.
“The Workers Cup,” April 15, 20, 28. Adam Sobel’s documentary shows the exploitation and endurance of Qatar’s migrant workers as they work to construct the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium while holding their own football tournament.
“The Cakemaker,” April 15 and 24. When Thomas learns his lover Oren died in a car accident, he leaves his home in Berlin to travel to Jerusalem to meet Oren’s wife and son who never knew about him and ends up working as the widow's pastry chef.
“Of Father and Sons,” April 20, 23, 28. Documentary filmmaker Talal Derki pretended to be a jihadist sympathizer and provides singular access to the household of Osama, an Al-Nusra Front member, where he reveals a family that experiences love, darkness and radicalization.
“Western,” April 19, 25, 28. A German construction team clash with the Bulgarian villagers they now share the land with in order to build a hydroelectric plant, and one man walks the middle.
“Crime + Punishment,” April 27 and 28. This documentary peers into an abyss full of corruption and systemic racism in the New York City Police Department through one group of officers’ frank conversations and hidden recordings.
“Minding the Gap,“ April 27 and 28. A documentary captured from a skateboard—Bing Liu records the lives of himself and two of his friends as they find themselves on the edge of being men in the Rust Belt. Director Bing Liu will be attending.
Bonus: “Chasms and Bridges II, April 17.“ One of three Spotlight short compilations, “Chasms & Bridges II” shows five stories, including a 21-minute documentary on undocumented workers in Wisconsin’s dairy industry, a 5-minute animation depicting the meeting of a Chinese mother and her British-born daughter, and a 22-minute story on the transformation of an Israeli commissioned officer as he transports a prisoner.