In exactly a week, the film festivities at Twin Cities Film Festival will commence! Eleven days, 120+ films including shorts and documentaries. This year’s festival features top films from celebrated national and international filmmakers as well as new faces and Minnesota talent.

I love that there’s something for everyone in the lineup. Whatever your favorite genre is, you’ll find something you want to see at TCFF this year. The full schedule is up on the TCFF official site, and you can see all the MN-connected films in its own category. Check out the promo video featuring 2015 Minnesota feature films:

I’ve had the privilege of chatting with some of those fine MN-based filmmakers, producers and talents about their projects, so be on the lookout for those interviews that’ll be posted later this month. In the meantime, here are some of the MN-connected films I can’t wait to see!

[in alphabetical order]

2021

I love sci-fi romance and there just isn’t enough films made in this genre. 2021 is the story of two lost souls searching for a shadow of love in an increasingly alienating modern world. John is a computer programming genius who starts working on a project to reverse engineer human intelligence using a map of the human genome, while Emily is a shy, bohemian novelist that is unable to find emotional sustenance outside of the world of her own writing. I’m curious to see how these two lives collide and witness this unconventional romance.

TCFF Welcomes director David Ash!

THE DUST STORM

Films about musicians intrigue me. I’m not talking about a musical but films that somehow can incorporate music and its interwoven in the story. The Dust Storm is such a film, set in Nashville and feature two talented, attractive actors who can actually sing! Once Upon A Time‘s Colin O’Donoghue plays Brennan, a broken musician now working for a soul sucking corporation, who’s reunited with the girl who crushed his heart a decade prior. I love the premise of long lost love and I like the chemistry he has with Kristen Gutoskie who plays Nora. Set in the backdrop of an intoxicating world of the Nashville’s music scene, I’m looking forward to being swept away.

TCFF Welcomes producer Justin Mikelson!

JUG BAND HOKUM

I love the idea for this music documentary by Emmy Award winning director and musician Jack Norton. I got the chance to chat with Jack about a month ago and it was such a blast [stay tuned for my interview with him]. Filmed in Minnesota, it follows the eccentric lives of band members competing for a broken waffle iron in the 33rd Annual Minneapolis Battle of the Jug Bands. This just sounds so entertaining and as I’ve never been to a the jug band contest, I’m definitely intrigued and perhaps I will attend the next February!

The film includes appearances by: Garrison Keillor (of Prairie Home Companion fame), rap legends Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Charlie Parr, Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Baby Gramps among others. The trailer promises fun bizarrity and well, pure hokum.

KEEPSAKE

This is one of the dramatic features I’m looking forward to for two reasons: filmmaker Vanessa Magowan Horrocks is so fun to talk when I interviewed her last month and I had seen the male lead Casey Hoeksta in Guthrie’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream earlier this year. Set in Minnesota, the film focuses on a young woman, Riley, who visits the place she once called home and is forced to confront the traumas of her past. There’s a sense of belonging theme about this story that I think is a universal as well as a personal one. I think it’s something I definitely can relate to and that’s one of the reasons I can’t wait to see this one.

THIS LONELINESS

I have a personal connection with this movie because it’s set in my alma mater St. Cloud State University, about an hour northwest of Minneapolis. I had the fortune of chatting with the funny and witty filmmaker C.B. Jacobson who’s also one of the three leads in the film. A graduate from SCSU, I think it’s cool that he gets to realize his dream of making his film, stay tuned for my interview with C.B. on how he brought this project to life. This Loneliness is a comedy about arrested adolescence and who can’t relate with the feeling of alienation in our college days?

OUT IN THE COLD

The social theme of this year’s festival is about homelessness. One Minnesota filmmaker took it upon himself to actually walk in the shoes of some unfortunate people who find themselves without a home. In Out in the Cold, director J.D. O’Brien and his friend John Koepke leave the comfort of their own homes to spend a week of Minnesota winter sleeping either on the streets or in homeless shelters as an opportunity to create experiential empathy with those who truly have to live without stable housing. If you’ve been here during the Winter months, you’ll know that it can be quite a challenging and dangerous endeavor. This film is for anyone who is willing to strip away their stereotypes about homelessness, and anyone who has struggled to find hope in challenging times.

TCFF Welcomes J.D. O’Brien!

THE OLD, OLD STORY

Now, who hasn’t asked or grappled with the basic human questions of the meaning of life? Filmmaker Samuel Hathaway makes his feature film debut about a young woman (Tiffany Cornwell) who, on the morning of her engagement, ends up debating those very questions with a mysterious stranger. The mysterious stranger is played by acclaimed MN actor Charles Hubbell, who also has a supporting role in 2021. I had the privilege to chat with Sam as well during my TCFF interview roundup and has some interesting discussion about the idea for the film and his film inspirations.

THE POLAR BEAR CLUB

Have you ever jumped into a frozen lake during Winter or even thought about attempting that? No? Though I’ve lived in Minnesota for over twenty years, I’ve never once even thought about doing that but such a daring outing certainly fascinates me.  The Polar Bear Club is the story of an elderly man, Harold, who leads a group of friends once a week out across the frozen lake behind his home in order to do one thing – jump in. The freezing water and painful cold brings each man a renewed feeling of youth and adventure, a feeling they wouldn’t give up for anything. The scenery and lake-jumping scenes alone made me want to
see this, but the film also promises a story that would make us reflect on life and the defining moments ofour lives.

THE QUIET HOUR

Post-apocalyptic sci-fis always intrigue me and sometimes, a smaller budget films actually have more to say than Hollywood big-budget blockbusters. The Quiet Hour is set in the aftermath of an alien invasion, where a feisty teenage girl sets out to protect her farm from human scavengers who will stop at nothing in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The film promises more character development than human- alien fight scenes, which suits me just fine. I’d rather see a strong narrative structure and intriguing characters than a CGI fest and this film looks promising on that front. This is Stéphanie Joalland’s feature film debut, I’m certainly glad to see more female filmmakers represented in TCFF lineup this year!