Did you hear about the Norwegian man who loved his wife so much he almost told her? Well, you would've if you'd attended the opening gala Thursday night for the 28th annual Minneapolis-St.Paul International Film Festival at St. Anthony Main.
It was Norwegian night at the festival, or so it seemed. More than 700 people showed up for the film-fest opener, Max Manus , a World War II epic—the most expensive film ever made in Norway—about the Nazi occupation of Norway and the efforts of an industrious band of young men, led by Manus, who do everything they can to make life difficult for the invaders.
There were lots of elderly people in the audience (curious for a film fest), and it turns out that the folks seated around me were either related to (or knew people who were related to) the real Max Manus, one of Norway's most celebrated war heroes. Talk about a small world. Futhermore, one of the young men featured in the film, Gunnar Sonsteby, was in attendance and addressed audiences before the film. Looking spry at 91, Mr. Sonsteby vouched for the film's accuracy, particularly in its unflinching depiction of torture, then smiled and said, "I think you'll enjoy it." And they apparently did, judging from the heartfelt applause as the credits rolled.
And so, the festival has begun—and will continue for the next two weeks. As usual, festival coordinator Al Milgrom and his staff at Minnesota Film Arts have assembled an improbably rich selection of films. More than 150 movies will be screened during the festival, including films from 60 different countries, more than 20 U.S. premieres, a handful of world premieres, several documentaries, a special series of children's movies, some Minnesota-made films, and some favorites from other festivals around the country.
For a complete schedule of films, go to the film-fest's website.
If you want to know what you're getting into beforehand, it looks as though the Star Tribune is the only news organization in town that is actually trying to see and review all the films (an onerous but honorable task). Here's their run-down.