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Central European Films coming to the 38th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

March 26, 2019

The 38th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) is coming in just a couple weeks from April 4th through April 20th.

MSPIFF is the largest spring arts event in our region, and one of the longest running international film festivals in the country. It premieres more than 250 of the best new international independent films from 70+ countries for our audience of some 50,000 invested attendees, bringing the world to your doorstep every April.

The following are just a few of the many films featured in the lineup, and are some of the films of interest to Central Europe and Austria. The full schedule and lineup is currently available at MSP Film Society.

MUG

Carefree metalhead Jacek is engaged to beautiful Dagmara and working construction on what is supposed to be the world's tallest statue of Jesus when a shocking accident completely changes his life. Malgorzata Szumowska provides another powerful indictment of provincial Poland's hypocrisy, prejudice and fear of difference in this tragicomedy, as a young man's face transplant brings out the worst in his small-town neighbors.

When Jacek returns home after his breakthrough surgery even some members of his own family don't know how to deal with his changed appearance; his elderly mother organizes an exorcism just in case he's possessed. Only Jacek's practical and loving older sister provides the support he needs. Working with her longtime collaborators behind the camera and on-screen, Szumowska brilliantly blends realism, streaks of fantasy and dark humor. Winner, Grand Jury Prize, 2018 Berlinale.

DUKLA 61

Director David Ondrícek (In The Shadow) uses the July 7, 1961 Dukla mine disaster as the backdrop for this taut family drama-cum-thriller. Here, the focus is on the Slachta family, highly respected members of the mining community near Ostrava. Burly Milan is a team leader below ground while his petite but commanding wife Marie runs their household with an iron hand. The drama starts as their eldest son Petr drops out of Mine Engineering college in Prague and moves back to the family home with a pregnant Jewish girlfriend in tow, much to his parents' disappointment. Unwilling to be a burden on his family, Petr decides to follow Milan underground, a choice that his father thinks he will soon come to regret. Meanwhile, at the mine, lax safety standards and an avalanche of critical errors pile up while pressure builds in the shafts and at home.

THE TOBACCONIST

This gripping coming-of-age drama is set against the backdrop of a seething, multicultural Vienna from 1937 through the "Anschluss," the annexation of Austria by Germany. At the center of the story is naïve 17- year-old Franz Huchel, sent by his single mother from the lakeside paradise of Attersee to apprentice with Otto Trsnjek, a kindly WWI veteran who runs a news and smokes shop on a central square. Despite Vienna's hothouse atmosphere and the Nazi-collaborator butcher next door, Otto welcomes all customers, including Jews and communists. Among them is Dr. Sigmund Freud, an avid cigar smoker, who winds up befriending Franz and advising him on love. Among the film's standout elements are the inclusion of Franz's fantasies and troubling nightmares. The fantasies mostly show what the good-hearted lad wished he could have done in difficult circumstances, meanwhile, the impressively shot, surreal nightmares, which play with Franz's memories and obsessions, also illustrate Freudian dream theory.

THE INTERPRETER

This poignant road movie about two older men coming to terms with the past stars the great Czech director Jirí Menzel (Closely Watched Trains) and Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann). Menzel plays 80-year-old Ali, a cranky Slovak interpreter who begrudgingly accompanies the 70-ish Austrian, Georg (Simonischek), so he can trace the war-time path of his father, a vicious Nazi commander, and a man from who he is estranged. Complicating matters are the two travellers vastly different temperaments and the fact that Georg's father was responsible for the death of Ali's parents. Although alcoholic bon-vivant Georg initially alienates Ali because of his interest in having a good time along the way, particularly when it comes to adventures with the opposite sex, eventually, the two begin to warm to each other. As they explore Slovakia together, they find a country that in many instances would prefer to forget about its past. Winner, Film Critics' Award, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival; Tobias Spencer Award, Haifa Film Festival.

NEUTRA - SURVIVAL THROUGH DESIGN

This insightful documentary feature from PJ Letofsky serves as a profile of iconic Austrian-American Architect Richard Neutra, whose work and legacy have helped shape the modern understanding of design, architecture and the interconnected fabric of nature. Today, Richard's legacy lives on through his son, Dion, who has taken up his father's mantle after nearly three-decades under his mentorship. An eye-opening exploration into the life and career of one of the design world's leading voices, the film is anchored by interviews from some of the field's brightest minds, who speak to Neutra's work, influence and philosophies. The film crosses geographical boundaries to tell Neutra's story, alternating between Germany, Switzerland, Los Angeles and other regions to fully illustrate the reach of Neutra's 125 year-old legacy.