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  • Jared Huizenga

TCFF Day 1: These Boots are Made for Making Me Enjoy My Freedom

Zoey Deutch, Madelyn Deutch and Lea Thompson stop on the TCFF Red Carpet prior to the Night 1 screening of "The Year of Spectacular Men."


Knee high. Red. Pants tucked in. You smiled politely as I passed, patiently waiting for your call to connect. Perfectly pleasant, unspoken interaction between strangers.

Then it happened.

Your call connected. My elevator had yet to arrive. You asked one question and then – in less time than the person on the other end could possibly answer the yes/no query – you snapped. You yelled, you belittled, you screeched.

Then my elevator arrived.

As I ascended to my floor, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief that I was not on the receiving end of that tirade. I reflected on all of the times I’ve loathed being single, and quickly realized that it’s moments like this that make me relish the freedom my often-difficult-to-tolerate personality has afforded me.

And what do I do with said freedom?

Well, for yesterday, today and the nine days that will follow I will spend it in St. Louis Park alongside likeminded people who truly love films and hearing from filmmakers. Those who aren’t afraid to drink a beer on a school night and talk about movies. Those who care more about good storytelling than they do about big budgets or star power. Those not afraid to spend a ridiculous amount of time in a dark theater, sustaining themselves on movie theater popcorn, Dewskis, and whatever the restaurants of the West End can whip up for you in between screenings.

These are my people. My friends.

And how did we spend our first day at the 2017 Twin Cities Film Fest?

If you were with me, you spent it first getting punched in the gut – figuratively, of course – by director Sean Baker and A24 by the sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching “The Florida Project.”

My full review won’t run until the movie gets its Twin Cities release on Oct. 27, but let me assure you that any hype you’ve seen, read, or heard up to this point is legitimate. For a while it seems as vapid as its lead (adult) character, but then it kicks in and destroys you.

I’ve learned to not doubt the work of A24. And, more importantly, I’ve learned to not doubt TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia. He told me last year that “Moonlight” – months before its release and way before it was secured for last year’s festival – was a serious Best Picture Contender. This year, in roughly the same timeframe, he told me the same thing about this movie.

The night wrapped up with the indie comedy “The Year of Spectacular Men.”

The film, directed by Minnesota native Lea Thompson, written by her daughter Madelyn Deutch, and starring both, along with daughter/sister Zoey Deutch, follows a year in the life of Izzy (Madelyn) as she navigates her first year of post-college life, while searching for her place in the world.

The film is (at times) vulgar and (always) hilarious and (more often than not) full of heart. You connect with the characters and take an interest in how things play out for them – even the questionable “spectacular men” that Izzy encounters in year of drifting.

The trio capped off the evening with a memorable Q&A that included far more profanity than any I’ve encountered in my six years of covering TCFF and way more laughs than 90% that I’ve sat in on. There’s something to be said for the amount of good-natured ribbing that can be dished out between those with familial ties compared to those connected only in a professional sense. They were having fun and it was contagious with the audience.

Day 2 will see an uptick in the number of films showing. Highlights of today should be the “1 Roach, 10,000 Laughs” comedy shorts block; the documentary “Human Flow” that deals with the global refugee crisis; and a big screen adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” featuring Minnesota’s own Rachael Leigh Cook. The entire Day 2 schedule can be found here.

Between now and Oct. 28, I’ll be in attendance for 50+ short films and roughly 35 features. Freedom, for whatever that’s worth. So thank you, random angry stranger on your phone, for making me appreciate the things that I do have.

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