The great cinefile get-together comes to a close

Sabine Benda, Senior Reporter

Spring in the cities means another Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) for film lovers. Each April, films from about 70 countries are screened in the twinkling Main Cinema in Minneapolis, and cinefiles from all over the region gather to volunteer, watch festival films and celebrate the medium. 

Though the film festival is an international one, bringing films from over 70 countries to the beautiful riverfront theater, MSPIFF also platforms local projects and artists. 

“Minnesota Mean” from director Dawn Mikkelson was amongst the local films that premiered at the festival this year, documenting the daaily lives of six members of the Minnesota Roller Derby as they compete for the ultimate goal of the sport: the Hydra. The film beautifully captures each individual, and their interwoven relationships and dynamics alongside the fierce competition that is Roller Derby. “Minnesota Mean” is just one of over 30 local projects that was shown during the festival. 

The executive director of MN Film & TV, Melodie Bahan, also serves on the board of directors of the MSP Film Society, the nonprofit that presents the MSP International Film Festival. 

“I love that even though it is an international festival, [there is] attention given to Minnesota-made films,” Bahan said. 

This year’s MSPIFF was the first since 2019 that was free of COVID-19 restrictions, allowing for filmmakers to visit, and sold out in person screenings, giving the 2023 MSPIFF “an overall sense of joy,” Bahan said. 

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An early screening of “Polite Society” by director Nida Manzoor was also featured in the festival. The action packed comedy out of the UK follows a teenage girl as she uses her martial arts training to save her sister from her imminent wedding. The outrageous hyperbolic love letter between sisters stirred laughs from the sold out theater in a way you only experience at a festival. 

MSPIFF has never failed to provide great films, and for Amy Bahauddin, an annual festival goer since 1992, some of the films she’s seen at the festival remain her “all-time favorites,” Bahauddin said. 

The 42 MSPIFF came to an end on April 27 with a closing night party complete with Wrecktangle pizza and a cash bar, full of filmmakers and festival goers alike.

Canadian film “Riceboy Sleeps” from Anthony Shim took the audience award for best fiction feature from the festival, while “40 Below: The Toughest Race in the World” from Minnesota filmmaker Marius Anderson took the audience award for best documentary feature.

For those who missed the festival and want to celebrate good film, MSPIFF has events and screenings year round and can be found on the festival’s website.