Can’t believe Festival Week is upon us, woo hoo!! This Wednesday, TCFF kicks off 11 days filled with cinematic festivities: 120+ films, film educational events & fun mixers every single night. From today all the way until Halloween, SHOWPLACE ICON THEATRE is THE place to be for film lovers in the Upper Midwest!

Have you gotten your tickets yet?

They are selling fast, in fact when I went to exchange some tickets, the seats are really picked over so don’t delay. Better yet, get yourself a TCFF pass if you know you’re gonna see at least five movies at the fest.

Seriously, the challenge for me is to find the time to see them all, there are SO MANY great films of all kinds of genres. If you’re a big fan of documentaries, then you’re in luck because there are a plethora of insightful docs covering social, environmental, sports, entertainment, etc. In fact, for the first time in TCFF’s six year’s existence, the fest will open AND close with a documentary feature.

Each year TCFF programmers seek out some of the most riveting documentary films to share with our festival goers. This year they went above and beyond. Check out this year’s promo:

Of course I shall try to see ALL of the documentaries if time allows, but that’s not always possible. So if I could only pick seven of the documentaries to see at TCFF, these would be my picks:

A New High (Opening Night film)

Screening Time(s): 
10/21/2015  (5:30 PM)
10/30/2015  (12:30 PM)

Each year TCFF brings awareness to an important social issue, such as bullying, hunger prevention, poverty, sex trafficking which were themes from the past few years. This year’s cause addresses the issue of homelessness and we have four films tied to that topic, including this opening night film.

In the heart of downtown Seattle lies the Union Gospel Mission—a homeless shelter catering to the addicted and the abused. But within the UGM is an ex-Army Ranger, will attempt to use one of the most treacherous peaks in North America, 14,400 foot Mt Rainier, to give these recovering addicts hope again. The poster of the film says ‘Everyone has a mountain’ and that is so true. We all have our own personal *mountain* to overcome, some are tougher than others, but this documentary shall inspire us that nothing is too steep to overcome. I for one could use such encouragement!

Finding Noah

Screening Time(s): 
10/25/2015  (12:00 PM)
10/31/2015  (10:10 AM)

I LOVE archaelogical documentaries and this one is especially intriguing for me given my own Christian belief. The film focuses on a team of team of archeologists, scientists and professional mountaineers on an expedition and scientific investigation to explore Mount Ararat, believed to be the final resting place of Noah’s Ark for over 2,0000 years. With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, not to mention the perilous trek itself to the top of the desolate summit.

Stay tuned for my interview with director/producer Brent Baum on the arduous process of filming amidst such treacherous weather/political condition, and how he came up with the title.

Jug Band Hokum

Screening Time(s): 
10/23/2015  (9:30 PM)

I’ve featured this one on this list of MN-connected films I can’t wait to see, but it’s worth mentioning it again as the idea of this doc is just so unique AND fun. He’s just featured on a Bemidji local paper about how much he enjoyed shooting his film in North West Minnesota (home of Paul Bunyan statue).

It follows the eccentric lives of band members competing for a broken waffle iron in the 33rd Annual Minneapolis Battle of the Jug Bands. 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. I had never heard much about jug bands, let alone jug band competitions before I talked to filmmaker Jack Norton, it’s cool when you learn about something new through film!

Out in the Cold

Screening Time(s): 
10/28/2015  (6:00 PM)

This is another MN-made film that deals with the topic of homelessness. This time, the director himself took it upon himself to walk in the shoes of homeless people. Filmmaker 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. The great things about watching documentaries is the chance to virtually step out of our comfort zone and open our eyes to a world different from our own, and this film certainly promises exactly that.

Raiders!: The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

Screening Time(s): 
10/23/2015  (5:20 PM)
10/28/2015  (7:15 PM)

Now THIS is a fun idea for a documentary… 1982, three 11 year-olds set out to remake Raiders of the Lost Ark. Thirty years later, they attempt to finish their fan film and realize their childhood dream. I LOVE Raiders of the Lost Ark, I count it as one of my favorite films of all time. So when I heard about this doc and how passionate these guys are about this movie, I just have to check it out.

The Last Great Circus Flyer

Screening Time(s): 
10/23/2015  (10:30 AM)
10/25/2015  (7:00 PM)

A popular subject of documentaries are about people accomplishing seemingly impossibly feats. Well, trapeze act involving quadruple somersault is certainly something I consider an *impossible* act. And that’s what is so fascinating about this documentary by Philip Weyland, which focuses on Miguel Vazquez, who performed ‘the greatest feat in all of circus history’ durin a Ringling performance in 1982. This documentary promises to transport us to the magical world of life in the circus, but also a personal story about Miguel and his family. In fact, it’s his brother Juan who’s the catcher in that 1982 trapeze act. Filmed over a seven year period, the film focuses on the past and present lives of the members of “The Flying Vazquez” and addresses the dangers and sometimes tragic events in the lives of circus performers.

 Can You Dig This?

Screening Time(s): 
10/22/2015  (3:05 PM)
10/27/2015  (3:30 PM)

“This is a movie about potential. You don’t have to accept things the way they are. You have the power to change things.” Ron Finley says in the documentary, he’s one of the four “gangster gardeners” who create an oasis in one of the most notoriously dangerous neighborhoods in America. I’m always inspired by people like Finley and that quote can be applied to pretty much any aspects of our lives, in whatever neighborhood we live in. How awesome that a simple garden can change a community, but that just goes to show that nothing is too small to change the world.