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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[OFF-SCREEN WITH OSTREM] Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival highlights new filmmakers

The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) has been a staple of the Minnesota film scene for over 40 years. The MSPIFF presents over 150 films over the course of two weeks every year. The filmmakers of these movies come from all different backgrounds, and all different stages of their careers, from amateur first-timers to veteran auteurs refining their craft. This year, MSPIFF is presenting over 200 films from Apr. 11 to Apr. 25 at The Main Cinema. Four of the films are reviewed here.

UNBROKEN. This documentary-style film follows a powerful tale of family and hope during the Holocaust, though it lacks good editing. (Fair Use Image: MSPIFF Website)

Unbroken (2023)
Unbroken follows the story of the Weber family and the seven siblings who survived and escaped Nazi Germany. The true story is told documentary-style by first-time director Beth Lane, who is the daughter of one of the Weber siblings. The film cuts between present-day interviews with the Weber siblings, Lane traveling throughout Germany and visiting pivotal locations from the story, and old footage. The interviews with the now-elderly Weber siblings provide many endearing moments that attach the viewer to the story. Although the film does a good job of helping the viewer follow the story, some of the editing can feel a bit like an eighth grader using iMovie for a class project. An endless array of unserious transitions, floating objects with a blank screen behind them and cursive labeling really make the amateur aspects of this film stand out. In the end, although the film has its fair share of issues, Unbroken is a powerful, moving and heartwarming film and a solid feature film debut from director Beth Lane.

Rating: ★★★★

DAUGHTERS. Directors Angela Patton and Natalie Rae created a beautiful film centered around the Date Your Daughter program. (Fair Use Image: MSPIFF Website)

Daughters (2024)
Daughters is an incredible emotional documentary by first-time directors Angela Patton and Natalie Rae. The film follows the Date Your Daughter program, a program instilled in the Washington D.C. area prison system to allow daughters with fathers in jail to have a father-daughter dance. In order to participate in this dance, the imprisoned fathers have to engage in a 10-week fatherhood counseling program. The film focuses on multiple sets of fathers and daughters, with footage from both the fatherhood counseling program and the daughters living their lives with their mothers. The cinematography and editing make the film feel incredibly intimate and personal, and really connects the viewers with these families. Daughters is incredibly emotional, with both heartwarming and somber moments. The film is very simple, yet effective and powerful, and anybody that has the opportunity to view it should jump at the chance.

Rating: ★★★★★

SILENT ROAR. This movie’s plot is all over the place, making for a messy and unenjoyable viewing experience. (Fair Use Image: MSPIFF Website)

Silent Roar (2023)
Silent Roar is a convoluted mess of a film. A Scottish film, its screening at the MSPIFF was the North American premiere of the movie. Silent Roar follows teenage boy Dondo, whose father got in a shipwreck a little less than a year prior. Everyone else in the small Scottish village that Dondo lives in believes his father died, but Dondo thinks he’s still out there somewhere. The following 85 minutes of the film involve a teenage romance, visions of Jesus, water demons, a burning church, a dead sheep and getting struck by lightning. The film is as messy and confusing as it sounds, and the plot slowly loses itself throughout. Louis McCartney starring as Dondo in his film debut is one of the highlights of the movie. Other bright spots include excellent cinematography and some witty dialogue. The film is at its best when it is a fun teenage drama set in a beautiful Scottish village, and it’s at its worst when it is an elaborate religious story about Jesus and water spirits. Overall, director Johnny Barrington shows some promise in his feature film debut, but the project ultimately falls short.

Rating: ★★

DEAD MAIL. This action-packed, crime-horror film features a mysterious letter and a search for the person who sent it. (Fair Use Image: MSPIFF Website)

Dead Mail (2024)
Dead Mail is a crime-horror film from second and third time directors Joe DeBoer and Kyle McConaghy. The film opens with a bound and bloody man crawling to a mailbox and putting a letter with a cry for help inside before he gets grabbed from behind. The rest of the movie follows the post office workers tracking down the sender of the letter, and then the events leading up to the opening scene, ending in a suspenseful and excellent climax. The film is set in the 80s but in a way where it feels authentic to the time period, not like a romanticized version of it. The casting is borderline perfect, and the villain is a brilliant and interesting twist on the character type. The dialogue throughout the film feels smart and witty, and the movie moves along smoothly and quickly. The movie seems like it could have a major theatrical release, and perform relatively well at the box office.

Rating: ★★★★

[MSPIFF is] a great way for moviegoers to experience more indie and underground films.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Fim Festival is an amazing way for amateur and up-and-coming filmmakers to showcase their work on a large scale to a packed audience. In addition, it’s a great way for moviegoers to experience more indie and underground films, as opposed to the large-budget studio slop that has become much more common in movie theaters nowadays.

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About the Contributor
Peter Ostrem
Peter Ostrem, A&E Editor
My name is Peter Ostrem (he/him). I work as an Arts and Entertainment editor for The Rubicon. At school, I’m involved in football, baseball, and theater tech. I love to hike and watch movies. I can be reached at [email protected].

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