Ms Piff presents the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

Film Festival Icon_flatIt must be almost spring because here comes Ms Piff (the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival). From April 3 to 19 there will be 200 films shown from all over the globe. The Film Society has been showing other than mainstream films since 1962. 

All films are at St. Anthony Main except where noted. To see the full list of films, go to







Le Chef

mspiff14.lechef.img_.still_-360x200Another restaurant film, and another using broad humor to win your heart, this time a satire of French arrogance in the world of grand cuisine. A young chef is determined to not compromise on the preparation of a meal, in spite of what customers or other chefs want. This wildly improbable tale is irresistible. 84 minutes. Sunday, April 6, 7:15 p.m.; Tuesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m. Ed Felien

Love and Lemons
mspiff14.lovelemons.img_.still_.1-360x200Possibly the sleeper hit of the Festival, this Swedish film is determined to capture your heart. It’s the familiar, “Let’s start a restaurant” theme, as corny now as when the late Mickey Rooney turned to Judy Garland and said, “Let’s put on a show.” But, in spite of its hackneyed conventions, the earnest simplicity, broad Swedish humor and star-crossed love make this a wonderful film. If you see one film, see this one. 99 minutes.

Thursday, April 10, 4:45 p.m.; Sunday, April 13, 7:05 p.m.; Tuesday, April 15,  2:30 p.m. Ed Felien

Brave Miss World

mspiff.bravemissworld.img_.still_.1-360x200Linor Abargil, Miss Israel 1998, was brutally raped and stabbed six weeks before she was to compete in the Miss World contest. She managed to pull herself together and ended up being crowned Miss World. She then devoted her life to helping, empowering and befriending rape survivors around the world. When Linor’s rapist is about to be considered for parole, Linor’s demons return as she crusades to keep him locked up. This is an incredible portrait of survival, hope, and how good things happen if you never give up. Everyone should see this amazing documentary. Directed by Cecelia Peck who made “Shut Up and Sing” with Barbara Kopple. 90 minutes. Sunday, April 13, 11:20 a.m. David Goldstein

The Last of the Unjust

lastunjust.img_.still_.1-360x200Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein was a rabbi in Vienna, the only “Elder of the Jews,” not to have been killed during the war. Hitler had given the town of Theresienstadt as “a gift to the Jews,” which was only an attempt to fool the world. Murmelstein recounts through interviews how he was labeled a traitor by his fellow Jews because he appeared to work with Adolph Eichmann when according to him he helped 121,000 Jews leave the country. Murmelstein gives a riveting account of how it felt to fear for your life each and every hour of every single day. Does his survival mean that he betrayed his comrades or was he a courageous and brilliant hero? Interviewed and directed by Claude Lanzmann who also directed the holocaust documentary “Shoah.” 218 minutes. Sunday, April 13, 1 p.m. David Goldstein

The Dog

mspiff14.dog_.img_.still_.1-360x200A portrait of John Wojtowicz, who was portrayed by Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon.” Wojtowicz attempted to rob a bank to pay for his lover’s sex change operation. This documentary follows Wojtowicz as he shows us the landmarks and people who had a played a part in this event and in his life. Alternating between amusing and tragic, John’s candor in retelling his story gives us a glimpse into what really led up to the robbery and hostage situation of Aug.22, 1972, and how this shaped and changed him forever. 100 minutes. Friday, April 11, 9:50 p.m.; Tuesday, April 15, 9:30 p.m. David Goldstein

Brooklyn Farmer
mspiff14.brooklynfarmer.img_.still_-360x200A short 27-minute documentary about how a group of latter day hippies decides to do large-scale farming on the roofs of warehouses in Brooklyn. They end up with two huge sites, and they supply farmers’ markets and restaurants. Wonderfully hopeful. Amazingly practical. 27 minutes. Monday, April 7, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 12,  3:30 p.m. Ed Felien

A Year In Champagne
mspiff14.yearinchampagne.img_.still_-360x200A lovely documentary about how and why people grow the grapes and make the bubbly. Interesting backstage view of the elaborate process and bottling. I still prefer the more comfortable and easily affordable Italian proseco to the arrogant assertion of French superiority in their prized champagne. 82 minutes. Wednesday, April 16, 4:45 p.m.; Thursday, April 17, 7:50 p.m.; Saturday, April 19,  7:10 p.m. Ed Felien

Despite the Gods
mspiff14.despitegods.img_.still_-360x200This debut documentary by Australian director Penny Vozniak shows second generation filmmaker Jennifer Lynch in India trying to make a film called “Hisss”—about a snake woman. This is not a project without problems—such as: the idea itself, the weather, the budget, motherhood (Lynch’s 12-year-old daughter is with her), a kindly, bumbling crew. Lynch, who is by turns funny, inspired, foul-mouthed, wise, open, despairing and optimistic, is the focus of this odd little film, where rough gems of wisdom pop out in the midst of chaos. 85 minutes. Tuesday, April 8, 7:05 p.m. Mary Ann Vincenta

Final Recipe
mspiff14.finalrecipe.img_.still_.1-360x200A wildly improbable plot, but loving characterizations, great cooking and incredible scenery make this joint South Korean and American feature a treat. Great scenes of cooking alternate with the urban landscape of Shanghai. You wonder after a while if the film wasn’t sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It all seems so accessible, so American. 97 minutes. Monday, April 7,  7:25 p.m.; Saturday, April 12, 11 a.m. Ed Felien

The Forgotten Kingdom
mspiff14.forgottenkingdom.img_.still_.1-360x200Joseph/Atang grew up in Lesotho but as a child moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he soon became a rowdy, directionless teenager. When his father died, he returned to Lesotho to bury him. This is a feel-good movie that makes you smile and/or weep. It’s very beautiful. Long stretches go by without dialog, filled in with gorgeous landscapes and music as Atang grows up. The whole story is a journey to adulthood, aided by a ubiquitous, precocious wandering orphan and the key ingredient—magical love. 98 min. Tuesday, April 8, 4:40 p.m. Mary Ann Vincenta

Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists
mspiff14.hairywho.img_.still_.1-360x200The Imagists were a group of young Chicago artists in the 1960s who were incredibly talented, irreverent and light years ahead of their time. Inspired by surrealists, they shocked, amazed and occasionally disgusted audiences with their fascination with the darker and weirder recesses of the human psyche. They published a comic book for each of their shows and their paintings exploded with color, imagination and spurts of genius. As one enthusiastic fan put it, “Those guys could draw like mother … s.” 109 minutes. Saturday, April 12, 4 p.m.; Sunday, April 13, 3:20 p.m. David Goldstein

mspiff14.aftermath.img_.still_.1-360x200Franciszek Kalina returns to Poland after spending two decades in Chicago. He finds his brother Józef at the family farm, abandoned by his wife and children and ostracized by the community for saving Jewish burial stones displaced by Nazi troops. Scenes filmed in almost total darkness punctuate the brothers’ risky, agonizing, gradual discovery of a secret kept in the village since WWII. The truth doesn’t exactly set them free. The ending is unforgettable. Controversial in Poland, “Aftermath” is based on an historical event and set in a fictional Polish village. 107 minutes. Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m.; Wednesday, April 16,  5:10 p.m. Mary Ann Vincenta

Harmony Lessons
mspiff14.harmonylessons.img_.still_.1-360x200In this brilliantly philosophical Kazakh/German production, filmmaker Emir Baigazin considers the human condition. The setting is a school in a remote area of Kazakhstan. Every moment cuts to the bone. You might get sick to your stomach. Backed by a lack of music, a slow pace and a stark landscape, the film presents questions about the fine line between evil and the drive to survive. The dread and helplessness of the adolescent protagonist permeate the harsh story, where the briefly spoken words of Gandhi in the classroom sound almost ludicrous. A proud Muslim girl, an amulet from the boy’s grandmother, and the sacrifice of a friend provide minuscule suggestions of hope. 115 minutes. Monday, April 7, 5 p.m.; Thursday, April 10, 4:30 p.m. Mary Ann Vincenta

Remembering Nokutela
mspiff14.rememberingnokutela.img_.still_.2-360x200This documentary by Carleton professor Cherif Keita, who hails from Mali, follows his search for the grave of a woman named Nokutela Dube, who died in 1917 and who Keita says paved the way for the liberation of South Africa. Yet while he lists her achievements, Keita never quite makes the case for why we should know her story, relying instead on the assumption that because these things happened in South Africa they have moral weight. The film’s point grows dim through this Mandela-esque haze, and we’re left with an enjoyable home video of the reunion of a family to which we don’t belong. 57 minutes. Wednesday, April 16, 7 p.m. Frank Bures

Karaoke Girl
mspiff14.karaokegirl.img_.still1_-360x200Every year, thousands of girls from the countryside arrive in Bangkok, looking for work. Karaoke Girl is the story of one such young woman, Sa, on whose real life this film is based. Shot in a lovely, dreamlike style, Karaoke Girl doesn’t break much new ground, but the portrait of Sa’s life is a nuanced, refreshing and human one, and a welcome respite from the moralism and hedonism that usually frame the debate about sex workers. As Sa herself says, “Women who have never been to Bangkok, and who come here to work … must adapt to the city even through our tears.” 77 minutes. Thursday, April 10, 1:50 p.m.; Saturday, April 19, 1:15 p.m. Frank Bures

Bicycling With Molière
mspiff14.bicyclingmoliere.img_.still_.1-360x200A delightful, wonderfully acted film that tells the story of Gauthier Valence, a TV actor who travels to a seaside village to seek out a much admired colleague, Serge, who retired in disgust. Valence wants to recruit him for his debut of Moliere’s play, “The Misanthrope,” which is kind of a holy text to the actors. For days they practice in Serge’s country house, arguing over who will play the lead and, in a sense, who’s the real the misanthrope. This picture is complicated when a beautiful Italian divorcee enters their lives, adding another layer to an already multilayered film about friendship, art, love and hate. 104 minutes. Tuesday, April 15, 5 p.m.; Saturday, April 19, 4:40 p.m. Frank Bures

American Arab
mspiff14.americanarab.img_.still_-360x200Being of Arabic descent has become increasingly complicated in America. Usama Alshaibi’s engaging documentary, “American Arab,” explores the nature of that role. Alshaibi was born in Iraq, lived in America as a young child. Then his family returned to Iraq when he was in fourth grade, and came back to America when he was in high school. The film tells his family’s story, as well as his own, trying to make a life as an atheist experimental filmmaker in the shadow of Americans’ growing hatred. Laced with humor and warmth, Alshaibi is the ideal narrator for this thoughtful and moving story. 63 minutes. Saturday, April 12, 4:15 p.m.; Sunday, April 13, 6:45 p.m. Frank Bures

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