News Column

St. Cloud Film Fest pairs local with global

November 14, 2013


Nov. 14--Variety is the name of the game at the 2013 St. Cloud Film Fest, which starts Saturday at Pioneer Place on Fifth.

With nearly 30 films from local, national and international filmmakers, the festival has grown from its first year, said organizers Jody Barth and John Scott. Organizers did that intentionally, hoping to build on the first year's run.

The festival comes at the tail end of the fall film festival season.

This year, the docket includes documentary, animated, narrative, short films and more.

Organizers also aimed to highlight females and women in film, trying to represent women equally, Barth said. They noticed that last year, while only a small percentage of filmmakers were women, it was the female-made films that had a really good showing in the awards, she said.

They also sought out stories that featured women and made sure half the judges were women.

They also hoped to get a cross section of ages and film buffs.

Though the festival is bigger this year, it was actually a little easier to organize, Scott said, because now they knew what to expect.

Scott and Barth have been working on the festival for six months. It's hard to quantify the amount of time spent curating, connecting, finding and setting up.

"That's how filmmakers work," Barth said. "They always have something going on."

Last year, they spent a lot of time simply getting the name out there, convincing people to participate and finding filmmakers. This year, Barth said, was about finding an audience, a public, for those filmmakers.

She said beyond the immediate connections they've made with the films, they're seeing those connections grow out.

They picked up some of the films from festivals they have visited.

The tactic aimed to have a festival where the work of local filmmakers was side-by-side with people who show movies at other festivals -- if only to show that the local stuff does hold up in comparison.

And it dares the filmmakers to up their game.

"The community is growing" and maturing in a way, learning from each other, Barth said.

The nights are organized thematically. Saturday afternoon features the best of the 2012 films, which was prompted by festivalgoers last year eager to see the films with the most buzz.

Saturday night has some of the buzzier films, including "Me and Ewe," a film made by a 12-year-old girl from Minnesota. It also has "Andrew Bird: Fever Year," the film by director Xan Aranda, a feature-length concert documentary film that many are excited for.

Sunday is the shorts show, with films by locals, including Scott.

Monday features only three films, which are features that look at life experience and aging, including "Walter," a project that a St. Cloud Technical High School graduate helped make featuring another former Central Minnesota resident, the one-time world's oldest man, Walter Breuning.

And Tuesday night is awards night, and kids' night, featuring stop-motion films made by local kids and other kid-friendly fare like the animate "Nanuq."

The awards will acknowledge technical and acting skills as well as student filmmakers.

The awards -- refurbished laser discs -- have even caused some "jealousy" among filmmakers and spurred some entries.

The organizers also have been hoping to keep people making movies, offering film weekends and workshops for kids.

Some of those involved in making the films will be in attendance and may offer question and answer sessions.

"That's the fun of a festival. You don't know who you could could run into," Barth said. "You get insight ... that atmosphere of getting together and talking about films."

Film festival how-to guide:

-- Peruse the synopses to see what you may like. As John Scott said, you never really know, and that's what film festivals are for: to discover new stories.

-- Accept you can't see everything. (Well, in this case, with only one showing at a time, you can. Get a season pass for $20 to save some money over door costs.)

-- Do bring your questions. Film festivals often are attended by those who worked on the films, and they usually love to chat about their work.

-- Keep an open mind, and learn something new.

Festival schedule

Best of 2012, 3 p.m., Saturday, free, 109 minutes.

-- "The Disinherited." 2012 SCFF Best Cinematography, Director Towle Neu.

-- "Blood Terror of the Night Fiend." 2012 SCFF Best Narrative Film, Director Bri Deihl.

-- "Go Ganges!" 2012 SCFF Audience Favorite, Director Ben Gottfried.

Opening night, Saturday, 7 p.m., 109 minutes.

-- "Me and Ewe." Boy meets girl; ram meets ewe; it's all the same. It's a stop-motion animation directed by 12-year-old Trinity Andersson. Directors Trinity and Barry Andersson.

-- "Episode 5," A humorous and award-winning look at the life of paranormal investigators. Director Bri Heihl.

-- The Electric Fetus Presents: "Andrew Bird: Fever Year." "Fever Year" captures Bird's precarious multi-instrumental looping technique and features live performances with collaborators Martin Dosh, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Michael Lewis (all Minneapolis natives) and Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent). Director Xan Aranda.

Sunday, 3 p.m., 99 minutes.

-- "Deadlines." How far will a struggling artist go to find the inspiration he lacks? Director Michael Kelley.

-- "Click." Two spies push each other to the brink. Director Ben Watkins.

-- "Torn." A young girl searches for her birth mother after the sudden death of her adoptive parents and learns a life lesson about how some things don't always work out as planned. Director Kassandra Langum.

-- "Permanence." Stanley and Rebecca engage in the most illegal of things -- love. Director Calvin Johnson.

-- "Vows." Two friends rob an apartment and steal a wedding proposal. Director Alex Kohstamm.

-- "Pursuit." A woman is followed through the woods. Director Chad Smith.

-- "The Dunsing Plan." A pair of small-town factory owners consider everything in order to preserve their family's legacy. Director John Scott.

-- "Brighton." Four strangers connected through Brighton Beach on Lake Superior move through a deep emotional crisis from winter to spring. Director Michelle Stenberg.

Sunday, 7 p.m., 108 minutes.

-- "RPG OKC." Two 8-bit video game characters enter the world of online dating. Director Emily Carmichael.

-- "City Boots." A lesson in taming a beast becomes a lesson in taming each other. Director Ryan Strandjord.

-- "Panhandler." A struggling writer has a chance encounter with a a mysterious man whose life story may provide the inspiration he finally needs. Director Kevin Horn.

-- "Reporting on the Times." How did the biggest news story of the century go missing? Director Emily Harrold.

-- The Youth Shelter Supply presents "Ground Control." A high-production video that features maneuvers performed by talented snowboarders. Director Mike Thienes.

-- "Nashorn Im Galopp." (Translated as: "Rhino Full Throttle.") Urban estrangement in a shoebox diorama. Director Erik Schmitt.

Monday, 7 p.m., 104 minutes.

-- "A Better Life." A new treatment for her comatose husband compels Diane to reexamine their relationship. Director Conor Holt.

-- "Dust." A young poet's final evening with his girlfriend sparks memories of an afternoon spent with his ailing grandfather. Director Shane Book.

-- "Walter." A feature-length documentary about one-time world's oldest people who embody the spirit of living a full, happy life. Director Hunter Weeks.

2013 Closing Night, Award Show, Tuesday, 7 p.m., 75 minutes.

-- "Kid's Stop-Motion Films." Children, ages 6-15, collaborate to make their own stop-motion animation shorts.

-- "Day for Night" winner. "Day for Night" is not only a tribute to French filmmaker Francois Truffaut, it is a free weekend contest where each participating team draws a genre, then is given a prop and a location. They have 72 hours to write, shoot and edit a film. Judges narrowed it to three, and the public voted on their favorite.

-- "The Healing Musical." A documentary crew captures behind the scenes footage of the world's first healing music. Director John Gigrich.

-- "Nanuq." A young girl plagued by illness in a cold, unforgiving land and a steadfast protector who will help illuminate her way. Directors Jill Jones and Brent Yontz.


(c)2013 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.)

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