The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival is a spring festival in the US state of Minnesota that is the largest film event in the Upper Midwest. The festival is known for showcasing Scandinavian films.

Where? Minneapolis-Saint Paul

When? 13 – 29 April 2017

Festival Website: http://mspfilm.org/

 

Denmark

Wolf and Sheep

Directed by Shahrbanoo Sadat

Screening in World Cinema; Women & Film; Competition: Emerging Filmmaker

Qodrat is an isolated young man, already dreaming of his adult life at eleven, brooding over the death of his father. He becomes the subject of vicious gossip as his mother becomes the third wife of a local man who has no interest in his new wife’s child. Retreating to the outskirts of his village, he becomes friends with Sediqa, a fellow outcast. Going against all the strict rules of this remote Afghani hamlet, Qodrat teaches Sediqa how to braid slingshots—something a boy never teaches to a girl, whose only occupation is to become a wife and mother.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Last Men in Aleppo

Directed by Feras Fayyad & Steen Johanessen

Screening in the Documentary Competition

For all the reporting about Aleppo, Syria, including stories of fighting, destruction, and politics, it must be remembered that there are still people who live in this besieged city in need of medical attention, fires to be fought, and lives to be saved. Enter the White Helmets, a dedicated if not weary and cynical group of men, whose job is to enter destroyed buildings, search for the dead and administer triage to those on the edge of life. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud are the founding members, dedicated to helping the city and its people, yet terrified that they themselves will be killed, avoiding bombs and chemical weapons as they make their rounds.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

The Commune

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Screening in Midnight Sun

Turbulent 1970s Denmark comes vividly to life in the newest film from Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt). When Erik, a disgruntled architecture professor, inherits his father’s enormous home in the Copenhagen suburbs, he and his wife Anna wonder what to do with it. He wants to sell the place, but Anna seeks something utterly new and exciting, something to break her dour husband from his midlife malaise. Her solution: communal living. Assembling a group of like-minded, if not motley collection of people they know, the commune at first is a thrilling experiment, and a place of almost bottomless friendship and goodwill… that is, until Erik sees the commune as a perfect vehicle to sleep with one of his students, and keep his wife in tow. Loosely based on the director’s own experience as a boy, The Commune examines this moment in Scandinavian life without judgment. “[A] warm and absorbing melodrama.” —Time Out

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Finland

Little Wing

Directed by Selma Vilhunen

Screening in Midnight Sun & Women in Film

A tender-hearted coming-of-age story shot in a low-key, realist style, this Finnish dramedy centers on a resourceful adolescent raised by an immature single mother who decides to track down her biological father. Varpu is 12 years old and small for her age; although she may not be as physically developed as other girls, she is mature and independent beyond her years. Indeed, it’s her mother that behaves in an inappropriately child-like manner: crying when she can’t pass her driver’s test, clambering into her daughter’s bed when she feels sad and lonely and complaining about her life rather than asking Varpu about hers. She can’t even remember her daughter’s birthday. Yearning for a less self-centered parent, one night Varpu decides to go find her dad. But even though she can act like an adult, it doesn’t mean she has an adult’s understanding of the world.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Lake Bodom

Directed by Taneli Mustonen

Screening in Dark Out

Atte is a Finnish high-schooler with an obsession: the 1960 Lake Bodom murders, in which four teenagers were stabbed and bludgeoned, three to death. With his friend, Elias, Atte decides to head to the notorious lake to reconstruct the murders for a photo project. They invite a pair of girls to join them, quiet Ida and her outgoing friend Nora, though the boys keep their motives a secret, hoping instead that the surprise will generate more realistic photos.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

 

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki

Directed by Juho Kuosmanen

Screening in Midnight Sun

Naïve and as eager to box as he is to bake bread in his small hometown of Kokkola, Olli Mäki is a man who simply appreciates what he’s been given in life. When he’s given the chance to fight on the big stage—the World Boxing Association featherweight championship—he not only is skeptical that he can beat the great American boxer Davy Moore, but he also realizes that he’s fallen deeply in love.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Iceland

Heartstone

Directed by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson

Screening in Midnight Sun & LGBTQ Currents

In a rocky and desolate fishing village in rural Iceland, 14-year-old Thor and Kristján while away their days, wondering about their future and feeling bored. Thor lives with his single mom who is back on the dating scene, and Kristján is verbally abused by his alcoholic father. Although both boys have mutual friends and each makes his attempt at dating girls, their friendship is the most important thing they have. But when Thor begins to notice that Kristján’s utter devotion to their friendship is more than platonic, complications arise. In his film, director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson has referred to his own time in a small Icelandic town: “In that particular town, I would feel that the grown-ups are a little closed and not happy. And I could feel that the teenagers, as soon as they started growing, felt that too. That town started to become too small for them, they wanted out.”

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Cubs

Directed by Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir

Screening in Short Films Competition: Narrative Short

A single father tries to fulfill his young daughter’s wish to throw a slumber party, which turns out to be more of a challenge than he thought.

MSPIFF Link

Norway

The King’s Choice

Directed by Erik Poppe

Screening in Midnight Sun

This patriotic epic broke domestic box office records in Norway last year. Classical cinema in the best sense of the term, Eric Poppe’s perfectly realized period piece looks at a seminal moment in modern Norwegian history: the three days in April 1940 when King Haakon VII faced the momentous decision about whether or not to cooperate with the invading German army. Threatening to abdicate if the government chose cooperation, he advocated all-out resistance, placing himself and his family in great danger, and guaranteeing his place in the annals of Norwegian history.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Pyromaniac

Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg

Screening in Midnight Sun

19-year-old Dag comes back to his parents’ home in a peaceful village in southern Norway after a spell in the military. His father, Ingemann, runs a small workshop, but even more importantly, he is the chief of the volunteer fire brigade. The son is proud of his father’s work and the father proud to see his son carry on the tradition upon the latter’s return. But more and more fires are ablaze in this small village, and Ingemann and Alma, Dag’s mother, are beginning to suspect the worst of their son. Featuring some of the most incredible scenes of burning buildings ever seen in cinema, Pyromaniac is a nuanced study of a sociopath and the community that shelters him. From Erik Skjoldbjærg, director of the international sensation Insomnia, comes “[A] chilling, subjective study of psychopathology.” – The Hollywood Reporter

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

El Clasico

Directed by Halkawt Mustafa

Screening in Midnight Sun

Kurdish brothers Wrya and Dana Ahmed bring warmth and spontaneous charm to this unlikely road movie. Alan runs a teahouse in their village and dreams of marrying the lovely Gona. But Gona’s father — a huge fan of soccer team Real Madrid — does not approve since Alan and his brother are both little people. Determined to win over the taciturn old man, Alan enlists his brother Shirwan in a crazy plan: together they will drive to Madrid and deliver a pair of handmade Kurdish shoes to Real Madrid’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. With fine camerawork and a mournful score, Iraqi-Norwegian filmmaker Mustafa has crafted a visually striking road trip. As they navigate city traffic or observe, with foreboding, the shells of abandoned cars in bleak stretches of desert, Shirwan and Alan are small against an indifferent world. But they’re also strong and resilient in a way that’s entirely their own. Iraq’s official submission to the 89th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

MSPIFF Link

Sweden

A Serious Game

Directed by Pernilla August

Screening in Midnight Sun & Women in Film

An achingly sensual story of love and adultery set in the early years of the 20th century, A Serious Game is an adaptation of a classic novel by Hjalmar Söderberg that centers on the passionate affair between the painter Lydia Stille and the journalist Arvid Stjärnblom. It begins when they are young and penniless, but after Arvild delays asking for her hand the impetuous Lydia vanishes. Nevertheless, when they meet again a decade later, their connection sparks once more, wreaking havoc on their respective marriages, children, and position in the strait-laced society of the time. Both Lydia and Arvid dream of a pure, great and untainted love, yet such a love demands a greater sacrifice than they could ever imagine.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database

Sami Blood

Directed by Amanda Kernell

Screening in Midnight Sun & Women in Film

A teenage girl from a traditional Sámi family yearns to be accepted by the Swedish society of the 1930s, a society full of prejudice and discrimination against her people. This striking coming-of-age drama, set against the backdrop of racism against Sámi people, traces the decision of Elle-Marja, a reindeer-herding girl from the north of Sweden, to sever ties with her Lapland heritage and abandon her family and indigenous culture to pass as Swedish.

MSPIFF Link

Nordic Film Database