After two years of online-only streaming, the Fargo Film Festival is back
In March, the 22nd Fargo Film Festival will take place in person at the Fargo Theater, following two years of virtual screenings and events. The celebration of independent cinema begins on March 15 and will end on March 19.
By Dominic Erickson
FFF22 is once again coordinated by Emily Beck, executive director of the Fargo Theater since 2011. “I think for most moviegoers, nothing can replace the experience of seeing movies in a theater with an audience,” Beck says. “Conversations with guest film artists are unique to the festival experience, so we can’t wait to get back to delivering those memorable interactions as well.”
She adds, “Safety remains a priority for the production team, but we believe we can take the necessary precautions to provide the community with a safe and responsible event.”
Programming Coordinator Sean Volk says, “There’s nothing like seeing a movie for the first time on the big screen with an audience; it’s electric to see a story unfold with people who love movies as much as you do. Volk says, “I love that festivals bring audiences and filmmakers together because they provide a unique opportunity for discussion and engagement.”
Beck continues to work on scheduling some evening showcases and will announce details as they become available.
The evening of Friday, March 18 will be the Fargo-Moorhead premiere of “We Burn Like This,” a drama about the strength of coping with inherited historical trauma. This coming-of-age story follows Rae, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, as she is targeted by neo-Nazis in an increasingly anti-Semitic community. Shot on location in Montana, this film is inspired by real events.
Immediately following the film, writer/director Alana Waksman will appear on stage for a Q&A.
Closing the festival on Saturday, March 19 as part of the Best in Fest showcase is “Glob Lessons,” a comedy-drama written and starring Nicole Rodenburg and Colin Froeber. The Fargo natives premiered their comedy-drama last summer at Tribeca, one of the country’s most prestigious and well-known film festivals.
“Glob Lessons,” shot locally and throughout the region, follows two strangers on a trip to the Midwest performing a children’s theater production for two. Once they open up to each other, they connect through their shared sense of inadequacy and struggle to find their place in life.
Beck says, “Audiences will fall in love with Nicole, Colin and the beautiful piece of cinema they’ve created.
Rodenburg and Froeber will also appear at the Fargo Theater for a chat immediately following the screening which begins at 7:00 p.m.
Festival co-chair Tom Speer says he’s thrilled to get back to that film festival atmosphere in person: being at the Fargo Theater, eating fresh popcorn and hearing the Mighty Wurlitzer before the party. “It doesn’t get better than that,” he said.
Speer is also looking forward to chatting with visiting filmmakers, fellow volunteers and festival attendees. “Volunteers have given countless hours to the FFF,” says Speer, “so it’s rewarding for everyone involved to see how people are enjoying the festival and all it has to offer.”
Michael Stromenger, co-president of the festival, adds: “It’s one thing to appreciate (films) when you judge. It’s a totally different experience to see them with an audience and hear immediate reactions.
In keeping with a long-standing trend that speaks to the quality of Fargo Film Festival programming, works presented at the festival have been nominated for Oscars. Three short films were nominated for this year’s Oscars; two for Best Live Action Short Film and one for Best Documentary Short Film.
These films, “The Dress” by Tadeusz Lysiak, “Please Hold” by KD Davila and “When We Were Bullies” by Jay Rosenblatt, are dynamic and captivating films that give viewers a taste of world-class cinema.
Brittney Goodman, president of narrative feature film, says she’s ‘in love’ with this year’s shortlist, and it’s a ‘very balanced category that includes heartfelt dramas, comedies and movies. edgy and stimulating”.
Goodman says she can’t wait to see “The Bobcat Boys” with an audience: “Our jury was blown away and had a lot of laughs at the entirely improvised buddy road trip movie with a twist.” That’s right – entirely improvised. The film follows two failed actors, Max and Bobby, traveling across the country once it is discovered that he has seven days left to live.
“‘Everything in the End’, according to Goodman, “is a beautifully filmed and meaningful story about the end of the world that is not as dark as the subject matter might seem.” Set in the last days of humankind, Mylissa Fitzsimmons’ film is inspired by the work of directors such as Kelly Reichardt and Wim Wenders.
This category systematically features Oscar-nominated work. In “Please Hold,” a man is wrongfully arrested via a police drone in the not-too-distant future where the criminal justice system is completely automated.
Short Narrative President Jeff Walkowski says one of his favorite movies in the short narrative category is “The Right Words,” a French film about middle school kids walking home by bus: “It centers on a boy who has a crush on a girl who’s also on the bus, searching for the right words to express his adoration to her. It’s a layered film that shows how we all struggle to tell others how we feel at home. their subject. The ensemble cast and direction is energizing. It’s a slice of youthful life and I can’t wait to see this 15 minute gem on the big screen.
Category winner ‘The Letter Room’ stars and is produced by Oscar Isaac (enjoying a career-best year in 2021 with ‘Dune’, ‘The Card Counter’ and ‘Scenes from a Marriage’) as as a kind-hearted correctional officer responsible for reviewing correspondence to and from inmates. He soon interferes too much in the private life of a condemned man.
Animation Jury Chair Kari Arntson highlights the wide variety of storytelling techniques and themes included in this year’s list: “The films selected will have such a variable range of story depth. They tackle serious topics like breast cancer, war and abuse, lighter stories of human triumphs, friendships and finding your way through struggles.
The category winner is “Fly” by Carlos Gómez-Mira Sagrado, a story about a bird that cannot take off due to a deformed wing and its relationship with a little chick that appears and changes its life.
Animation juror Greg Carlson said, “There are so many brilliant films in the category this year that viewers will find plenty to love and admire. I was mesmerized by ‘Souvenir Souvenir’ when I first saw it as part of Sundance, and the honorable mention ‘Anna la Javanaise’ makes you reconsider Gauguin’s art in real time. I also loved Belgian animator Mélanie Robert-Tourneur’s magnificent “Hold Me Tight”. I still think about it. »
Documentary feature film
Matt Olien, chair of the documentary feature jury, says he’s thrilled to be back in person after back-to-back virtual film festivals, and that this festival is important “as we try to put COVID and the festivals of virtual films in our mirror rearview mirror and move on.
Olien notes that the category is particularly strong for this year’s programming. The winning film, “Krimes”, is a remarkable portrayal of Jesse Krimes, an artist who spent six years in prison, created massive works of art while incarcerated, changed his life and continues to inspire.
Olien also highlights the honorable mention “High Maintenance: The Life and Work of Dani Karavan”, about a decorated Israeli artist; “Vinyl Nation,” a dive into the resurgence of record collecting and a delight for music fans, and “North by Current,” which uses a highly original and unusual narrative structure to tell the story of a very dysfunctional.
Documentary short film
The third Oscar-nominated film scheduled in FFF22, “When We Were Bullies,” follows director Jay Rosenblatt stalking members of his fifth-grade class to discuss a bullying incident that took place 50 years ago.
Honorable Mention “Snowy” studies the happiness and well-being of a pet turtle. The titular tortoise lived isolated in a family’s basement for over a decade; how can an animal be happy under these conditions? The funny and touching film, which explores the emotions of pets, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.
Emelia Harriger, in her first year as jury president, says some of our selections have beautiful visuals at the center of the film, and she’s glad audiences can experience them. It’s not every day that experimental films can be screened in a theater as they are usually very different from feature films.
Harriger is eager to experience the stunning visuals and “almost meditative” sound design of “Discovery of Fire” in theaters. Many of the submissions were shot on film, and one of the selections, “Summer Light for Tula,” is a great film to see the deft in-camera editing presented.
Category winner “The Length of Day” tells the tumultuous history of socialism in America using a variety of cinematic elements and textures.
A dozen student films will also be screened throughout the festival. Craig Roath says that the jury received many very good films and that he is very satisfied with the selections.
Two films are by Minnesota State University Moorhead students: “Kinesthesia: A Walk Through the Fargo-Moorhead Music Scene” by Trinah Szafranski and “These Voyages Unknown” by Kyle Odefey. Roath says, “It’s always great to promote local talent, and the MSUM film department consistently does impressive work.
The “Winter of ’79” category winner and honorable mentions “The Dress” and “Final Masterpiece” are international productions that Roath says underscore the festival’s broad reach.
Oscar-nominated “The Dress” tells the story of an intimacy-seeking motel worker who faces rejection from men because of her appearance. The film addresses issues of disability and sexuality.
In addition to the category highlights listed above, several dozen other films will be screened throughout the festival.
Festival Projects Producer Greg Carlson looks forward to the annual 2 Minute Film Competition, screened on Friday evening March 18. Carlson notes, “Over the years, the 2-Minute Film Contest has welcomed the artistic visions of tweens on their cell phones as well as polished professional veterans with access to cutting-edge equipment and technology. I love seeing all of these movies bump into each other.
This year, the 2 Minute Film Contest will feature nearly forty films, representing multiple states and countries. As always, admission to this event is only two dollars.
Speer says, “This festival is for everyone. I always tell people, “It’s your film festival. There is something for everyone here.
FFF22 starts on Tuesday March 15 and ends on Saturday March 19. The daily film festival schedule will be added to the Fargo Film Festival website as soon as it is finalized.
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