Last night I attended a private screening of The Invitation, a short drama by Minnesota filmmaker Brad Birkeland, at the Heights Theater. During the film, I was surprised to hear a familiar voice: that of Performance Today host Fred Child. During a Q&A after the screening, I raised my hand to confirm: "Was that Classical MPR I heard in the film?" Indeed, replied the filmmaker, it was.
The Invitation tells the story of Thomas (Elliott Graber), a young man who's been living alone for some time. When he returns to his vacationing parents' home to make some repairs, he runs into his childhood crush Beth (Heidi Fellner), with whom he rekindles a romance over — this being Minnesota — lutefisk.
The film involves a flashback to Thomas's childhood years, and Performance Today's Piano Puzzlers are heard in the background of both past and present scenes as connective tissue in the lives of Thomas and Beth, who are both pianists. Birkeland said he approached MPR with the idea to use the program in this way, and was pleased to receive permission to do so. The score also includes music by Mozart, Fauré, and Górecki; as well as an original song by Graber.
The Invitation premiered at this year's WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it was honored with a Platinum Remi Award in the dramatic original shorts category. There are no immediate plans for another screening, but Birkeland says he plans to submit the film to additional film festivals, including some in Minnesota.
The lead actor in this film is actually Elliott Graber and he deserves credit as such. An otherwise great article about a great film. Thank you!
Whoops! Thanks for catching that error, Caitlin; I've now corrected the spelling.