Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival kicks off in newly renovated theater

On Thursday, the Minneapolis St. Paul Film Society kicked off the 2022 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival at its newly renovated full-time home at the Main Cinema on St. Anthony Main.

This is the first time the festival has returned in person since 2019. For about 10 years, the film company has used the St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis to host the festival, but starting this year they will take over permanence above space. This takeover includes a complete renovation of the theatre, originally built in 1985.

“I think seeing a movie in a dark room, on a big screen, with other people around you, that’s what movies are and I believe and I think, we all believe here, that movies bring together,” Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul executive director Susan Smoluchowski said.

The festival presents more than 200 films and short films created by filmmakers from 70 different countries. They also feature local filmmakers like Jessica Rae, a Minneapolis native and writer, producer and director of Raise your hand. The film tells the story of two teenage girls growing up in an unnamed Midwestern town in the 1990s while dealing with issues including sexual assault, police brutality, and financial hardship. Rae says some of the film’s situations were inspired by his own experiences and those of his friends when they were teenagers.

“To be honest, I took really honest, tough situations that I’ve been through and put them in the movie because I didn’t really see a platform where those kinds of situations were brought up,” said Rae.

She says she hopes the film, shot in Los Angeles where she now lives, will inspire other young women to use their voices to overcome life’s challenges.

Rae says his former high school drama teacher spoke about Rae’s film to the MSP Film Society and encouraged them to include it in the festival. Rae says the guidance of a teacher when she was a teenager was instrumental in her success as a filmmaker. She says a character in Raise Your Hand was inspired by this educator, and the characters in the film thrive on creative outlets, as she did as a teenager.

“These girls use art and creativity to be able to move forward and that was very important to me because I had that when I was young. I got that gift from my teachers and mentors so I hope that it will share it with other young people who can create their own art,” Rae said.

Raise your hand is screened at La Main on Friday. Rae will hold a question and answer session after the screening.

The MSP Film Society says it’s also offering virtual or streaming options this year, though they’re back in person. Check out the program and learn more about the featured films here:

https://mspfilm.org/festivals/mspiff/

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