thing to do | 2014 Rochester International Film Festival

Mr. A and I were planning a date night to the twin cities for the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) when I noticed a flick I was dying to see had a time listing at one of our local Rochester theaters. A few clicks later and I discovered the Rochester International Film Group and their upcoming event. Let’s just say fist pumps ensued; multiple fist pumps.

Through a partnership with the Film Society of MSP and their big event, the 19th Annual Rochester International Film Festival starts next week, Friday, April 11, goes through Thurs. April 17, and best of all, all the action takes place right here in Rochester, MN!

Foreign film and those of the more independent nature are my jam. You can tell the directing, acting, and scene set up is so much more art focused. It’s more of a passion than putting what people want to see on a screen. Now that doesn’t mean all films of these categories are ‘artsy fartsy’ and too complex for any movie lover to enjoy. In fact, a lot of the foreign films are actually the blockbusters of that country and star their top actors and actresses. It’s interesting to see how culture and attitude make such a difference in our cinematic experiences compared to those across the oceans.

I’m in love with this year’s line up; I literally want to see them all! For some suggestions, here is a sneak peak at my list toppers:

Half of A Yellow Sun | Drama | April 12 @ 12:30 p.m.
Based on the book of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun is a sweeping romantic drama about two twins that is set against the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil War. After receiving an education in England, Olanna, and Kainene return home to a newly independent Nigeria. Peace, however, is short-lived, and the two women are forced to make some decisions that their privilege did not prepare them for. With elegant performances from Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Biyi Bandele’s debut feature is a richly drawn melodrama of epic proportions.

Also appeared: Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival, AFI Fest.

Club Sandwich | Comedy | April 12 @ 9:45 p.m.
Single mother Paloma and her 15-year-old son Hector have a very close relationship, until the duo decide to take a trip to a beachside resort a Hector meets 16-year-old Jazmin. Suddenly, Paloma finds herself competing for her son’s attention in awkward but often hilarious ways. Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke’s third feature takes a deadpan comedic spin on the coming-of-age story as a son learns to explore beyond his safe zone and, more importantly, a mother learns to let go. Told with a subtle and effective sensitivity,Club Sandwich is an off-beat winner.

Best Director at San Sebastián International Film Festival. Toronto International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam.

InRealLife | Documentary | April 13 @ 5:10 p.m.
InRealLife asks what exactly is the internet and what is it doing to our children. Taking us on a journey from the bedrooms of British teenagers to the world of Silicon Valley, filmmaker Beeban Kidron suggests that rather than the promise of free and open connectivity, young people are increasingly ensnared in a commercial world. Beguiling and glittering on the outside, it can be alienating and addictive. Quietly building its case, InRealLife asks if we can afford to stand by while our children, trapped in their 24/7 connectivity, are being outsourced to the web.

Also appeared: Toronto International Film Festival.

Broken Circle Breakdown | Drama, Romance | April 14 @ 8:20, April 17 @ 9:40
Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight. She has her own tattoo shop and he plays the banjo in a bluegrass band. They bond over their shared enthusiasm for American music and culture, and dive headfirst into a sweeping romance that plays out on and off stage – but when an unexpected tragedy hits their new family, everything they know and love is tested.

An intensely moving portrait of a relationship from beginning to end, propelled by a soundtrack of foot-stomping bluegrass, The Broken Circle Breakdown is a romantic melodrama of the highest order.

The Broken Circle Breakdown – Trailer (EN) – Felix van Groeningen from Menuet on Vimeo.

OH I have to add: It’s one of the top ten phenomenons in the world (probably right up there with gravity), but after a while, you don’t even realize you’re reading subtitles to understand the movie conversations.

For more information, visit the RIFG website. All films are playing at the Wehrenberg Theater.

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