Duluth-Superior Film Festival opens today

Summer movie season has arrived, and if you’re like me you’ve noticed a sea of derivative retreads slated for our cinema multiplexes. “Blah Blah IV.” “Blah Blah: The Remake.” “Blah Blah: Based on the Popular Video Game.” The film industry has always balanced its urge for creativity with its need for money. It seems money is winning these days.

But creative filmmakers do exist, and they thrive far from Hollywood — even here in Northern Minnesota.

Today the Duluth-Superior Film Festival opens its five-day lineup of original feature films, documentaries and shorts. And, unique to this festival, admission is free.

Venues include Clyde Iron Works, Teatro Zuccone, Zinema, and the American Indian Community Housing Organization in Duluth. A special “road trip” screening will happen at the Comet Theater in Cook.

The film lineup includes:

RUMBLE: The Indians Who ​Rocked The World (MN Premiere!)
Wednesday, May 31
8pm @ Clyde Iron Works

“​RUMBLE will tell the story of a profound, essential, and, until now, missing chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, and others, RUMBLE will show how these talented Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives. Director: Catherine Bainbridge; Co-director: Alfonso Maiorana

“Girl Flu” is the centerpiece film of the 2017 Duluth-Superior Film Festival.

Girl Flu
*Writer/Director Dorie Barton in attendance!
Friday, June 2
7pm @ Zinema

“Bird, a thoughtful twelve-year-old, is becoming a woman whether she wants to or not. During the worst week of her life, she gets her first period (in front of her entire sixth grade class), is ditched by her impulsive, free-spirited mom, and learns that you can never really go back to the Valley. Devastated that her childhood is over and still reeling from a recent move to Echo Park from Reseda, Bird struggles through her new reality along with some helpful, and some not-so-helpful, friends and family.

“First-time writer/director Barton sets a lighthearted backdrop for this story of both a mother and daughter coming-of-age, offering a sweet perspective on a universal, yet underrepresented experience. We all have to grow up… and half of us do it by getting a case of the Girl Flu.
Writer/Director: Dorie Barton; With Jade Pettyjohn, Katee Sackhoff Jeremy Sisto, Heather Matarazzo

“Blood Strip” is the closing night feature of the 2017 Duluth-Superior Film Festival. Filmed on the Iron Range, it will be screened at the Comet Theater in Cook.

Blood Stripe
*Director Remy Auberjonois & star Kate Nowlin in attendance!
Sunday, June 4
2 screenings: 6pm & 8pm @ The Comet Theater in Cook, MN

“Our Sergeant returns home after a third tour with the Marines. Unable to sleep, wracked by paranoia and anxiety, it is clear that in addition to the scars she bears on her torso, Our Sergeant carries unseen wounds. When a boisterous homecoming party provokes an explosive outburst, Our Sergeant has nowhere to turn, and so she runs… deep into the North Woods. Discovering a picturesque summer camp on a lake, Our Sergeant seeks refuge and at first, finds solace. But she cannot outrun her own heart of darkness and the pristine wilderness becomes fraught with peril. As our Closing Presentation in Cook, MN, Blood Stripe returns to the Iron Range where it was filmed.”

Director: Remy ​Auberjonois; Writers: Remy Auberjonois & Kate Nowlin; With Kate Nowlin, Tom Lipinski, Chris Sullivan, Rusty Schwimmer, Rene Auberjonois

Other films include:

First Daughter & Black Snake (documentary) — “​Winona LaDuke believes Big Oil is the black snake predicted in indigenous prophecy to bring the earth’s destruction. When proposed new oil pipelines threaten sacred wild rice lakes, Winona dreams of organizing a spiritual ride, riding her horse against the current of oil ‘because a horse can kill a snake.’ Director: Keri Pickett”

The Bakken (documentary) — “On the heels of the Great Recession, fracking unlocks a sea of oil beneath rural North Dakota. This series of intimate and interconnected portraits tells the human story of an oil boom and bust.” ​Directors: James Christenson, Lewis Wilcox; Co-directors: Eliot Popko, Jonah Sargent

Twin Cities (feature film) — “Salvaging a marriage takes time and trust, two things that John and Emily no longer have. Emily is a writer with a career threatening case of writer’s block and deadlines approaching. The pressure to finish her novel grows when John sinks into depression and quits his job … right before their first baby is due. As they head toward a mutual meltdown, John is given a terminal diagnosis that forces him to reassess his life and attempt to save his marriage—before it’s too late. However, inner peace proves elusive, the marriage might be too far gone, and John’s life may not be what it seems.” Director: David Ash

The Scent of Rain & Lightning (feature film— “When a young woman (Maika Monroe, It Follows) in the Midwest learns her parents’ killer has been released from jail, rumblings in her small town suggest he may be innocent. She begins questioning the police investigation and witnesses, and uncovers her own family secrets to piece together the shocking truth. Based on the bestselling novel by Nancy Pickard. ​Director: Blake Robbins

The Missing Sun (feature film)– “After a solar flare powers down her remote community, Alma discovers her husband Terry comatose. Suspecting he is having an out-of-body affair with an ex-lover, Alma attempts to bring him back to reality with help from Terry’s estranged, drug-addled son and the leader of a new-age religion that specializes in astral travel. Director: Brennan Vance

Following Seas (documentary)– “​The dream: to be free—free from bosses, rent, and red tape. In 1960 Bob and Nancy Griffith set out on their 53-foot sailboat to chase that dream, literally to the ends of the earth. They spent decades navigating the relentless pull of family and adventure. Combining recent interviews with exquisitely textured archival 16-millimeter film—shot by Nancy in the 1960s and 1970s—Following Seas is not only a story of world records and sailing feats, but of a family who truly lived a self-determined life and made the sacrifices their dream demanded. ​Directors: Araby Kelley & Tyler J. Kelley​

Brew North: A Beer Story (documentary) — Brew North explores the rise, fall and rebirth of brewing in northern Minnesota. From historic breweries in Duluth, Virginia, and Tower to the craft beer revolution underway, discover the pioneering spirit and passion that connects the brewing community throughout time in this original documentary by WDSE-TV.
Featuring Fitger’s Brewing Co., Iron Range Brewing, Duluth Brewing & Malting Co., Virginia Brewing Co., People’s Brewing Co., Lake Superior Brewing, Fitger’s Brewhouse Brewery and Grille, Castle Danger Brewery, Bent Paddle Brewing Co. and Blacklist Beer.

Solatium (feature film) — “​John is recovering from a bipolar episode where he experienced a messiah complex. He witnesses Bill, a shipping magnate, commit a crime. This creates a chain reaction as John enters a “manic state”. John meets Elijah and Father Luke, while John’s ex–girlfriend and news reporter, Sandra, along with several of John’s friends become entangled in the action as John flees from enemies and himself. SOLATIUM is a story of redemption, a psychological thriller with themes of mental illness and spirituality. With 25 characters and 34 locations across Duluth, the making of this movie was as manic as the content. Director: Nick Hansen

Other movies include “Americana” and “Voice from the Stone,” along with dozens of short films. More events range from panel discussions to presentations and script readings.

You can read more at the Duluth-Superior Film Festival web page. The schedule follows:

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