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  • Jared Huizenga

TCFF Spotlight: Aquarians

Over the course of 11 days, October 18-28, film fans and filmmakers from across the country will descend upon the ShowPlace ICON Theatre at the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park for the 2017 Twin Cities Film Fest.

More than 120 films – including features, shorts, animation and documentaries – will screen over the course of the festival. In addition, a large number of directors, producers, and actors will walk the red carpet, present their films, attend the mixers and chat with fans about their work.

Over the course of TCFF 2017, we’ll be chatting with some of those filmmakers and stars to find out more about what they’re bringing to the TCFF screens.



Film: Aquarians

Screening: 6:30 p.m., Sunday October 22

Tickets/additional information:

In advance of walking the red carpet and debuting his film, “Aquarians,” to the Twin Cities Film Fest crowd, writer/director/producer Michael McGuire took some time to chat with us about the film and its inclusion at TCFF 2017.

Q: Tell us about “Aquarians.”

“Aquarians” is a character-driven, independent film set in a small Midwestern town that explores how two brothers on seemingly very different paths in life confront the past event that tore them apart.

Q: What was the inspiration for the film?

Years ago while on a summer acting gig at Vermont’s Dorset Theater Festival, I had a dream in which my younger brother appeared as a long-haired hippie priest throwing a party for a bunch of small town teenagers in a church. It got me thinking about what it would be like for a young man in today’s society to commit to the priesthood, and I started scribbling the first draft of what would become “Aquarians” in a notebook. I became interested in the emotional reasons an otherwise normal twenty-something guy would choose such a cloistered life. Some of the events and characters were extrapolated from my personal experiences and relationships growing up in a rural Midwestern town, as the oldest of three rambunctious boys.



Q: You're wearing multiple hats on this film – writer, director, producer. Do you have a role that's your favorite and one that's your least favorite?

Each role is very different from the others. I would say writing is the hardest, because no one is there to push you and it requires a great deal of discipline. But it can be satisfying to get into a groove and create scenes and characters that “click.”

Once the script was set, I put on the producing hat and worked for about two years to raise the funds and organize the production. And on the back end, you have to make sure taxes are paid and contracts are signed, and that can frankly be a drag – like being the host of a wild party where you have to clean up after everyone’s gone home.

But when we ramped up to the shoot, I got to be a director, and that was the reward for the years of hard work to get the film off the ground. It’s a stressful and demanding job, but it was incredibly rewarding to find myself on set, bringing this vision to life with a hundred folks from my hometown who showed up to be extras in the movie, along with all the actors and crew who assembled and contributed to the project. It is literally a dream come true, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone who supported and worked on the film.

Q: Where has the film screened and what has the audience reaction been like so far?

TCFF is our World Premiere, so we shall see!

Q: What was it that drew you to submit your film for the Twin Cities Film Fest?

I was born in Minneapolis, and spent a ton of time around Minnesota as a kid - my grandparents had an idyllic property in the hills outside Winona with 40 acres and a stream, and other relatives live near Rochester and in the Twin Cities. I knew TCFF would be a terrific place to premiere “Aquarians” because it was created to showcase the uniqueness of the culture of the Upper Midwest, and I think Minnesotans will find “Aquarians” relatable and entertaining, yet sophisticated enough to satisfy more urbane cinephiles.

Q: If someone is only going to see one or two films at the Twin Cities Film Fest, why should “Aquarians” be one of them?

“Aquarians” is a well-crafted film that captures the spirit of the Upper Midwest in a grounded, yet unique and entertaining way while connecting the old world with the new and showcasing great young talent, so I hope it becomes a “must see” as the Fest!

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