MSPIFF 2019 for Fashion Lovers

Here are just some movies a fashion lover might like at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival
Clockwise, from above left, photos from "Shadow," "Rafiki," "Ladies in Black," "Crystal Swan," and "Yuli," all featured in the 2019 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival
Clockwise, from above left, photos from “Shadow,” “Rafiki,” “Ladies in Black,” “Crystal Swan,” and “Yuli,” all featured in the 2019 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

Courtesy MSP Film Society

The 38th annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) is showing more than 240 films, documentaries, and shorts April 4-20, and this morning, I went through the not-so-grueling process of skimming through all of their summaries. Unsurprisingly, there were many amazing films that piqued my attention that did not fit this roundup.

(Ready for this long tangent? Check out films like Dogman, a suspenseful drama about a dog groomer’s toxic relationship with a dangerous boxer; Sibel, which, at its core, is about a village woman ready to break through her society’s limitations; and An Elephant Sitting Still, which intertwines the stories of four people, each with their own darkness, in desolate and industrial Northern China. (There are definitely humorous pieces in the lineup, too, like The Trouble with You and Put Grandma in the Freezer.) Minnesota made documentary Eating Up Easter is also one to watch, and the other 40-plus documentaries include Los Reyes, a documentary focused on two (adorable) street dogs that live in the famous Los Reyes skatepark in Santiago, and Afterward, which shows what happens after a place is decimated by trauma’s footprint.)

Anyway, here are 11 films that I thought might be of particular interest to fashion lovers, whether because of subject matter or aesthetic:

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache (director attending)

Alice Guy-Blache wrote and directed the first known fiction film at the age of 23. Over the course of her career, was a filmmaker, producer, screenwriter for about 1,000 films with themes that flew in the face of orthodoxy, and she owned her own production studio, Solax. So why don’t more people know about her? With director Pamela Green attending, this documentary shows a large piece of history that has been missing from filmmaking. See Be Natural at St. Anthony Main Theatre on April 12 and 18.

Claire Darling

Claire Darling couldn’t ask for better weather for a garage sale, and today, she is selling some of the many luxurious items from her estate. You can’t take it with you, right? And, according to Claire, she is going to die. As her personal items are rifled through, each brings back memories of her life and one other things: her estranged daughter. Based on the novel Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge, this film by director Julie Bertuccelli takes place over 24 hours, but you can see it April 11 and April 19 at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

Crystal Swan (director attending)

Velya wants to trade her home country of Belarus for a life of DJing and music in Chicago, and to do it, she needs to falsify her resume. One mistype means instead of the department calling a fake phone number, they’ll be calling a real person—a family, who in fact is preparing for their son’s wedding. Just looking at the trailer, Velya’s fashion stick out without apology, but you’ll have to watch the movie to understand who she truly is. This film has won best picture at the Tbilisi Film Festival, the audience award at Pacific Meridian, the Russian critics award and best co-production award at the Vyborg Film Festival, and more. Director Darya Zhuk will be attending at the screenings in the Marcus Rochester Cinema on April 13 and at the St. Anthony Main Theatre on April 19 and 20.

The Good Girls

In this opulent film, Sofia is a socialite at the top of her game in terms of wealth, fashion, and leisure. As Mexico’s financial crisis of 1982 starts crumbling her life, she and her husband Fernando try to keep up appearances, but they can only fight off the decay for so long. Director Alejandra Marquez Abella’s film won the audience choice award at the International Film Festival and Awards in Macao, and Ilses Sala won best actress at the Havana Film Festival. See the film at St. Anthony Main Theatre on April 5 and 9.

In Fabric

For something different, In Fabric definitely fits, with comedic horror, pregnant pauses, a little absurdism, and anti-materialism and anti-capitalist hints all wrapped up in a world where every detail is curated. It’s the 1980s, and newly single middle-aged Sheila picks herself up and goes to the Dentley & Soper’s department store to treat herself with something special. The “artery red” dress that draws her in also curses her, as it does every other wearer. St. Anthony Main Theatre is showing this off-the-beaten-path film on April 6 and 11.

Ladies in Black

What becomes a coming-of-age story originally begins with 16-year-old Lisa’s summer job in Sydney’s famous department store, Goode’s. Even as Lisa gets initiated into the high-fashion, sophisticated world of the store’s employees, or the “ladies in black,” she brings with her the tides of change that are enveloping the city with the 1959 Australian women’s liberation. Ladies in Black is based on the best-selling novel The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, and under the direction of Bruce Beresford, the movie shows how, no matter what age, we can all find ourselves a little more. Showtimes at the St. Anthony Main Theatre are on April 14, 16, and 20.

One Last Deal

Olavi is an aging art dealer who has found the perfect swan song to to his career: a misidentified painting that could lead to riches. However, he has to authenticate it. As a man who has isolated himself from everyone and has not adapted to the times (no cellphones or internet for him), the task is harder than anticipated. Fate dropped his estranged grandson onto his doorstep, though, and with his help, Olavi might be able to figure it out. While the plot summary follows along to a cheery beat, the trailer shows a more complex picture with a moody underscore and muted tones. See the Klaus Haro film at the St. Anthony Main Theatre April 8 and 18 and at the Parkway Theater on April 20.


Based on the book of the same name by Lisa Klein, this film starring Daisy Ridley brings us back to the Shakespeare story of Hamlet. Instead of Ophelia being a young woman lost in a battle of schemes and passions, though, she is her own person, fighting to save Prince Hamlet from those who scheme against him and, perhaps most of all, himself. Director Claire McCarthy’s opulent film will be shown at the St. Anthony Main Theatre on April 19 and April 20


Neon pink seems to weave itself throughout this movie about two women falling in love in Nairobi. The film is based on the short story “Jambula Tree” by Monica Arac de Nyeko, and while the romance has plenty of magical moments, it also has many filled with heartbreak as their culture does not approve. Rafiki was the first feature film from a Kenyan filmmaker to be invited to Cannes Film Festival; however, in Kenya it is banned due to its LGBTQ themes. See director Wanuri Kahiu’s acclaimed film at St. Anthony Main Theatre on April 5 and 13.


From the creator of House of Flying Daggers comes another legendary epic based in the Three Kingdoms of China. Commander Yu of the Pei Kingdom undermines his ruler for the good of the kingdom, but Yu himself has his own secrets. He’s actually the low-born Jing under orders from the actual commander and the commander’s wife. Director Zhang Yimou’s saturated and deliberate tale is showing at the St. Anthony Main Theatre on April 6, 14 and 19.  

Yuli (opening night presentation and party)

Special guests, popcorn and champagne are in order for the opening night the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, and the film that kicks off the 17-day festival is Yuli, a documentary about Carlos Acosta, the acclaimed Cuban ballet dancer. Watch as Acosta, known as Yuli, goes from a dilapidated neighborhood in Havana to London’s Royal Ballet, where he has been a principal dancer for 17 years. The after party is at Jefe Urban Hacienda, so you know where you need to go if you feel like dancing after the film or want to enjoy some street-style tacos, cocktails and house-made sangrias. The documentary, directed by Iciar Bollain, is at St. Anthony Main Theatre at 7 and 7:30 p.m. on April 4; the after party at Jefe: Urban Hacienda begins at 8:40 p.m.