FRFF 2020

I have come to love Winona’s film festival , which happens each winter after the Superbowl, and celebrated 15 years this past weekend. At the same time, I sort of brace myself because I know I’ll probably attend close to a dozen films or film sets over the span of five days, and there’s precious little time for anything else.

The films are documentaries from 4 to 84 minutes in length, concentrated on Saturday-Sunday on the WSU Campus. At the atrium of the Science Lab Center are food vendors, ticket sales and merchandise, display booths, and conversation corners for those who would like to continue discussing what they just viewed. Other local venues include the Winona Cinema 7, Senior High School, and this year there was an early day of films in Lanesboro, MN, the previous weekend. Clusters of shorter ones include the Adventure Set, Moving Mountains Set, Indomitable Spirit Set, a Local Set…

Husband and I volunteer as ushers/ticket-takers for two of the sets, which gets us a weekend pass to all films. (!) My favorite mind-bending films this time around began on Wednesday evening with Hillbilly – how we have stereotyped people of Appalachia, and how that has created the perfect “soil” for Trumpism.

Frozen Friday was wonderful:

– at the Library: I wish everyone could see The Economics of Happiness, an overview of how globalization has changed the world, and how we might survive this.

– at the Sr. Friendship Center:  Love is Listening: Dementia without Loneliness – who knew this is how to get under all the surface stuff and just be with people?

– at St. Mary’s Univ. Student Center:  The Francis Effect – the impact the current Pope has made in the world, on groups and individuals.

Saturday, I started out with The Serengeti Rules – a cadre of nature researchers have discovered that the natural world operates differently than previously though (another “must see” in my opinion), if you look over the long term. While “working” as ushers, we viewed Singing in the Grain, highlighting the music that holds Minnesota’s Czech communities together, in New Prague et al; and Blood Memory, on reparations just now being made to First Nations People who were impacted by adoption/foster care forced on them in the last century.

Sunday featured a rather disjointed but still powerful film (produced and narrated by Jeff Bridges), an overview of our current global situation:  Living in the Future’s Past.

Lest you think it sounds way too “heavy”, I also saw a horse painting pictures (My Paintbrush Bites), a goatherd high in the Tibetan steppes on her cell phone as her son played stick hockey (Jagrlama), and a club that predicts when celebrities are going to kick the bucket (Riplist).

What was the last documentary you saw?  Do you ever attend film festivals?

42 thoughts on “FRFF 2020”

  1. Morning. Just in from clearing the drifts off the driveway.

    I’ve never done a film festival.
    All of Ken Burns stuff are really good.
    And then we have “This Is Spinal Tap” and all the other Christopher Guest movies that sort of come across as documentaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All your movies sound pretty good there BiR.
      There’s a movie called “Sing Faster; The Stagehands Ring Cycle” which is the Ring cycle from the stagehands point of view and explained by them. It’s a fun one I try to show the theater classes when possible.
      It’s all on You Tube.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Two behind-the-scenes documentaries I’ve always meant to see are:
        The Burden of Dreams, Les Blank’s film about the making of Fitzcarraldo, and
        Lost in LaMancha, about Terry Gilliam’s disastrous attempt to film Don Quixote.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. The other Christopher Guest films, Best of Show and A Mighty Wind, for starters.

          I haven’t seen it but I think The Blair Witch Project was done as a mock documentary.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. We used to go to the International Film Festival here in Minneapolis, especially when the venues were more spread out and some of them more convenient. These days, it’s harder to blast us out of the house after dinner and a lot more options are available to us through streaming.

    The last documentary we watched was Ken Burns’ Country Music.
    One I really liked that may not be familiar is “Saving Brinton”. It’s free on Amazon Prime. Here’s how Amazon describes it:
    When an eccentric small-town collector discovers the showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to the Heartland, he begins a journey to restore the legacy of America’s greatest barnstorming movieman and save these irreplaceable cinematic treasures from turning to dust.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Two dvds we ended up buying after seeing them at the film festival:
      My Architect, by the son of architect Louis Kahn, and
      Forever about Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.


  3. Not much of a moviegoer anymore. Never been to a film festival. Last documentary I saw was probably several years ago at the Science Museum of MN. One of the IMAX films on space or flying or wild animals. Can’t recall. I love a good movie but it just seems like nothing stands out based on the trailers I see on TV. Makes me wonder if movies have dropped off in overall quality in the past 20-30 years.

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Two IMAX films that had an impact on me were shown long ago (1990s?) at the Science Museum. One was Island of Ghosts, a film about Madagascar with music by Rossy. The other was about soaring or gliding in delicate airplanes with no engines.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    The last documentary I watched was “Country Music” by Ken Burns. I also watched several on Netflix while I recovered from knee surgery, but I was on pain meds and the names and topics are just gone from my memory.

    I asked for the DVD set of “Country Music” for Christmas, and Santa brought it. During January I re-watched it. It was still so good. The music documented American history, as well as cultural blends and changes over decades. It struck me while they were telling of the very religiously-based, high-powered radio stations on the border, that some things about religion have not changed much. Those stations sold “snake oil” products and cures based on nothing at all, while they played the emerging country music. It leaves me shaking my head at it, in the same way that Evangelical supporters of #45 leave me bewildered.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I can’t watch this without tearing up. It’s from Young At Heart, about a choir of senior citizens that perform contemporary rock songs. Partly, I know, it’s because my Dad spent the last few years of his life tethered to an oxygen tank but there’s more to it than that.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I love good documentaries. Ken Burns has hit on a formula for making some of broad appeal and is a master at his craft. His latest on Country Music was another excellent one.

    Les Blank is another excellent documentary filmmaker. The daughter of one of our neighbors is the long-time, live-in girlfriend of Harrod, Les’ son, and a filmmaker in his own right. Over the years she has gifted us with lots of DVDs of both Les and Harrod’s work. We love these surprise gifts, always of interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The only film festivals I’ve ever gone to were my own. Decades ago now (before you could just get anything online that you wanted) I had three film festivals over the course of about a year or so. I rented VHS tapes and started the videos in the morning and ran them all day and people dropped in and out according to their schedules. The first one was Katherine Hepburn, the second one was Cary Grant and the third one was Mel Brooks films.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i am a film and video vidiot.
    ken burns does such a nice job assembling all the stuff he needs to tell a story and i am trying to think of all he has done as he’s progressed
    civil war
    country music i still need to finish
    (i saw the first 3 and hankvwilliams reentered my life at guitar night on wednesdays, last night at the session the founder who is moving back to boston and this was to be his last session with us ended the night asking me to play and sing lovesick blues because the night we met he played it and i nailed it)
    many of the current movies like 1917 are someone’s story of actual events as told by the guy who was there
    i have always wanted to attend the turner classic movie festival but haven’t had the wherewithal. it’s on my list
    i imagine i average 4 in theater movies a month and 20 more on tv
    i piss my family off by going ahead and recording the upcoming good stuff on my dvr that comes with cable
    this pisses my don off because he does it only to record to watch his 15-20 shows a week at a time that’s convenient for him and i have too much space tied up.
    i have been to bogart tributes and sat through 5 or 6 films how can you leave? treasure of the sierra madre the big sleep casablanca the maltose falcon sabrina caine mutiny. and i do that in my head with marilyn jimmy stewart tom hanks greer garson meryl streep sophia loren paul muni kirk douglas gary cooper john wayne cary grant katherine and audrey hepburn peter o toole it does go on and on gene kelly fred astaire cyd chastise the marx brothers charlie chaplin busby birkley rita hayworth can be the lingering to the finish of my list i’d loved movie stars any time
    a documentary of how different it was vs is today would be interesting
    wouldn’t it

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There is a documentary called Northern Lights, about the socialist NPL party (Nonpartisan League) in ND in the early part of the 20th century. My paternal grandfather’s uncles were apparently leading lights in the organization. I think it won an Oscar or at least was nominated for one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Movies about music are favorites of mine, I saw a documentary called 20 Feet From Stardom at the Riverview a few years ago. It was about the careers of a handful of women backup singers of the 60’s and 70’s. Really enjoyed that one.

    Dylan’s Don’t Look Back is pretty fascinating, especially now that so many years have passed and everyone looks SO YOUNG.

    I’ve been intending to watch the Wilco movie <I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    And anything by Ken Burns is worth a look.

    Liked by 2 people

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