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Movie Natters: April 18, 2009 Archive

MSPIFF: Sitting in the sun before sitting in the dark

Posted at 4:00 PM on April 18, 2009 by Euan Kerr (1 Comments)

The scene was a sunbathed restaurant patio, crowded with people enjoying the first glorious Friday evening of the season. A little girl walked up with a little pink toy dog in her hand, and began pretending it was sniffing my arm.

"What's the dog's name?" I asked.


"Charlotte Rampling," she said with a smile.

Charlotte Rampling? Ah, the movie buffs are in town.

A large group of film writers (film fans really,) the self described Film Goats, sat outside the St Anthony Main Theaters in Minneapolis last evening and yakked about their hot picks and tips for the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival.

There was general agreement that there was a great deal to see, and a sense that more possibilities will inevitably arise as people get a chance to study the schedule.

Those schedules are available at the theaters, and are being distributed to other venues, including the businesses sponsoring the festival, and to the Landmark Theater venues. They are also going to be dropped off at colleges around town, as well as selected coffee shops and public libraries.

Certainly the schedules were a hot item at St Anthony Main.

Kathie Smith was recommending the Rwandan feature "Liberation Day" as a hot pick. Daniel Getahun was playing his cards close, and Rob Nelson was there to check out "Trust Us This is All Made Up" for Variety. I was pitching the delights of "Trip to Asia" and the guilty pleasures of "The Last Cup" the documentary about the World Series of Beer Pong.

We were joined by Louis Lopat, director of "Win or Lose: a summer camp story."

(He's the one wearing the yellow shirt talking to Rob Nelson in the Pedro shirt.)

The film, which captures a week of intense competition at a camp in Northern Wisconsin recently took a top prize at the Wisconsin Film Festival.

Lopat looked a little nervous as the people at the table regaled him with tales of their own summer camp. He admitted that hearing the "This American Life" show which compared summer camps to religious cults convinced him to make the movie about the camp where he has attended. The MSPIFF screening didn't sell out, but reports are the question and answer session after the film was spirited and long.

The lines outside the theaters began growing just before 7pm, and for a while even stretched down the street. Apparently a printer broke down in the will call line, and it slowed things a little, but the mood was good and people were just eager to check out the movies.

After a while the Movie Goats began drifting off to various theaters and other appointments, although not without promising to meet again next week.

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MSPIFF: getting in the groove on Saturday

Posted at 4:39 PM on April 18, 2009 by Euan Kerr


"The sevens were busy," said Ryan Oestreich. "People were clamoring." Meaning the 7pm screenings were jammed.

The MSPIFF programmer says with opening night and the first full day of the festival now out of the way he thinks they are almost in the groove, A few more days and things should be really grooving.

The big sellers Friday were "The Girl from Monaco" which got mixed reviews (great acting and cinematography, but people weren't sure about the script,) and "Getting Home" Zhang Yang's tale about a man who, because of a promise to an old friend, transports his corpse over a thousand miles back to his home, despite having no money. (Oestreich reports this got raves from the audience.) Both films will screen again later in the festival.

Oestreich was preparing for his list of visitors over the next 48 hours, and was keeping track of each and every one of them.

He has also the honor of setting up the beer pong contest which will run after the screening of "The Last Cup" the documentary about the world beer pong championships in Nevada (where else?)

The movie follows some of the 250 two person teams who duked and drank it out for the title. Beer pong is the game where teams try to throw ping pong balls into half filled cups of beer at the other end of a ping pong table. Each time they sink a ball, the cup is removed. The first team to clear all the cups wins.

What makes the film fascinating is the diversity of the people involved. Some see themselves as serious athletes and train as much in the gym as at the beer pong table. Some just train in the bar. Some, it seems don't really train much, but live on their raw beer pong talent.

While some people, including the contestants themselves, might jeer at these people's hopes and aspirations, it does shed a light on the way we compete in the modern world.

Anyway, Oestreich says he's been dropping fliers along Frat Row at the U to encourage a crowd at the screening at Oak Street and at the MSPIFF Beer Pong tournament.

"Am I going to try it? Are you out of your mind?" he responded when asked.

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