MSPIFF ANNOUNCES SPECIAL PRESENTATION AND CLOSING FILMS FOR 2016 INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MINNEAPOLIS — February 22, 2016 — The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF), which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, today announces an opening weekend Special Presentation and one of the official Closing Night Presentations. The festival runs from April 7-April 23.
On Saturday, April 9, the Festival will present the regional premiere of The Idol, a drama based on the inspiring true story of Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf, followed by a special 35th anniversary event. The first feature film to be shot in Gaza in decades, this crowd-pleaser by two-time Academy Award-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now; Omar) reveals the moving journey of a young Palestinian, raised in a refugee camp, who persevered to become a symbol of hope for a fragmented nation. Abu-Assad will be in attendance at the screening.
As one of the festival’s Closing Night Presentations, on April 23, 7pm at St Anthony Main, MSPIFF will present a work set closer to home. The Seventh Fire follows two Ojibwe men who live on Minnesota’s White Earth Indian Reservation as they struggle to chart a course through lives marred by incarceration, poverty, and substance abuse. Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman and famed director Terrence Malick co-executive produced this powerful work, the first feature-length documentary from director Jack Pettibone Riccobono. Riccobono and principal cast members will be in attendance.
The full slate of films will be announced March 1, but MSPIFF is pleased to announce several on the roster now: the documentary Iraqi Odyssey, by Swiss filmmaker Samir, is a personal examination of the Iraqi diaspora as it affected generations of the director’s family. The all-ages-friendly drama Lamb, about an Ethiopian boy and his beloved pet, will be screened with director Yared Zeleke in attendance. They Will Have To Kill Us First, a depiction of musicians’ resistance to extremist repression in Mali, will include a tie-in performance at Icehouse on April 8 by one of the featured musical groups, desert blues band Songhoy Blues.
“We’ve traveled the globe to uncover hundreds of works— the stories of marginalized groups and overlooked individuals. Although we do it every year, we’re always astonished at the quality and breadth of the films being made,” said Susan Smoluchowski, executive director of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, MSPIFF’s non-profit parent organization. “This year is no exception—there’s so much to be excited about from our Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing films, to our other incredible categories from experimental to Minnesota-made.”
These films join the previously announced selection Beeba Boys from Canadian-Indian director Deepa Mehta, screening at the Uptown Theatre in Minneapolis Thurs., April 14 at 7 p.m. and again as the festival’s Centerpiece Presentation at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis on Saturday, April 16, at 7 p.m. The opening night film will be announced soon.
The complete lineup of films and events, including the always-stylish and welcoming opening celebration, closing party, DJ nights, and visiting filmmaker mixers will be announced March 1. Festival Passes and 6-packs are available now at mspfilm.org. Individual ticket sales for these and other MSPIFF films open on March 17 to members and to the public on March 24. Discounts up to 15 percent off apply for early bird pass purchases.
MSPIFF is supported by Legacy Amendment Funding through the Minnesota State Arts Board, Cedarwoods Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, The Star Tribune, US Bank Wealth Management, numerous international Consulates and generous members of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, among many others. For details, visit mspfilm.org/festivals/mspiff.