Around the World in 50 Films with MSPIFF

Clear your Netflix schedule: The virtual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival takes place May 15-23
A preview photo of "The Spy," the opening film of the 2020 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.
“The Spy” opens the 39th annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. This neo-noir thriller follows famous Norwegian actress Sonja Wigert as she tries to free her father during Nazi Germany.

Jens Jonsson

The annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) is usually a dream come true for cinephiles and maximalists (have you seen its past schedules?), and after a month-long postponement due to the pandemic, the show will go on. The MSP Film Society has already been making movies available to stream on its site, but from May 15-23, it will be hosting MSPIFF39 Redefined: A Virtual Film Festival

More than 50 of the feature films and shorts originally slated for the festival are on the docket, with potentially more to come. Most are available for the whole festival, but make sure to mark your calendar for those that have specific screening times or live Q&As.

Tickets for the general public are $10 per movie, and you can catch a full schedule here. So pop some popcorn and enjoy—oh, and consider donating to the film society so we can enjoy this next year at St. Anthony Main Theatre. 


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Find Your Flick

As always, MSPIFF has compiled films from around the world. To get a head start on the rest of the catalogue, check out some of the options below. (Don’t worry: Even if some of the trailers don’t have subtitles, the films will.)

Comedy: As long as you’re fine with plenty of flesh, you might be amused by the strange comedy of Patrick, which is about a man’s quest to find his missing hammer at the nudist camp he has recently inherited. If you’re more of a mockumentary fan, try The Barefoot Emperor, a sequel to the 2017 MSPIFF closer King of the Belgians. Nicolas III is back, but this time he’s ruling over all of Europe.

Documentaries: Raise Your Voice follows the student journalists at Marjory Douglas High School after the Parkland shootings; a live Q&A with the Star Tribune and the film’s subjects will be held May 17 at 7 p.m. Public Trust takes its viewers to some of the most beautiful places in the country (including our own Boundary Waters) while uncovering the fight for these public lands by the government and big businesses. A live Q&A will be held May 19 at 7 p.m.

Drama: Fire Will Come follows arsonist Amadar Coro as he is released from prison, returns to his remote hometown, and wonders if it’s only a matter of time before he falls into old habits. Those Who Remained is about how two Holocaust survivors—a 16-year-old and a middle-aged doctor—as they lean on each other to try to move on with their lives. 

Family: Sune vs. Sune (recommended for ages 10+) is about one boy’s desire to be the best and only Sune in his Swedish fourth grade class. H is for Happiness (recommended for ages 11+) brings imagination into everyday life through the relationship between 12-year-old Candice and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension.

Minnesota Connections: Women in Blue closes out the film festival with a sneak preview screening only on May 23 and a live Q&A that day at 7 p.m. The documentary focuses on three female Minneapolis police officers trying to reform the justice system—and then dealing with the fallout of Justine Damond’s killing. Another documentary, Ways of Being Home, shows the lives of Northfield’s Mexican immigrant community, 70% of whom have roots in Maltrata, Veracruz. A live Q&A with the filmmakers will be held May 23 at 1 p.m.

Romance: Tuscaloosa was written and directed by Minnesotan Philip Harder and filmed in Northfield, but the story follows the romance between a young man and one of his father’s asylum patients (Stranger Things’ Natalia Dyer) during the civil rights movement in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (live Q&A TBD). For another option, Aurora is a romantic dramedy following the relationship between party girl Aurora and Iranian immigrant Darien as she tries to find him a green card marriage in Finland.

Suspense: A Girl Missing puts its protagonist on the defense as her nephew is the prime suspect for kidnapping her employer’s daughter, while Nina of the Woods turns what was supposed to be a silly hunt for Bigfoot into a fight for survival in a forest that has a supernatural force of its own (live Q&A TBD).

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