5th TC Film Fest to open in St. Louis Park; Cantus season starting with new program

The Weinstein Company
Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from "The Imitation Game."

The fifth annual Twin Cities Film Festival (TCFF) opens tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 16) at the state-of-the-art Showplace Icon in St. Louis Park. In case any clarification is needed, this is not the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF), which has been around a lot longer and happens in April at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. TCFF is more blockbuster, less art-house, though it also includes indies, documentaries, shorts and cause-based films. Most are Midwest or Minnesota premieres, and nearly half have Minnesota connections. TCFF also has its share of panels, workshops, parties, mixers and visiting actors and filmmakers.

The big names: Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game,” a World War II thriller about code-breaking gay scientist Alan Turing. Reese Witherspoon in “Wild,” based on the best-selling book by Cheryl Strayed. (Witherspoon has said this role was the hardest of her career.) Keira Knightley in the festival hit “Laggies.” Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children,” about families and the Internet, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner. “Time Lapse,” about three young roommates and a camera that takes pictures of their future. You think that’s a good idea? Not so much.

Films with Minnesota links: “Hunger in America,” (a documentary narrated by James Denton, who will be in attendance), “The Transylvania Television Real Meanin’ of Halloween Special Show” (a retro monster comedy, with puppets, but not for kids), “To Say Goodbye” (when a wife and mother commits suicide, her family struggles in the aftermath), “Solitude” (James, don’t open that storage locker), “The Control Group” (college students and bad scientists are trapped in an abandoned insane asylum, heh heh), “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter” (a Japanese woman searches for buried treasure in the Minnesota winter), and five blocks of shorts.

TCFF ends Sunday, Oct. 25. Festival passes are still available. FMI and tickets. You can reserve your seats online, and between screenings, you can wander the small-townish streets of the West End outdoor shopping mall.

Cantus, our acclaimed men’s vocal ensemble, opens its 2014–15 season tomorrow with a brand-new program and its 17th recording, adding to an already impressive discography. Founded in 1995 by college friends at St. Olaf, a school with a famously strong music program, it became a full-time professional vocal ensemble in 2000, one of only two in the U.S. (the other is Chanticleer). Their singing is exquisite, their live concerts warm and welcoming, with a real connection between the singers and the audience. If you haven’t yet seen them, their latest program, “Anthem,” is a fine place to start.

“Anthem” is built around a question: Why do we sing? The answers are found in the songs: a Hebrew burial Kaddish, an African-American work song, the Irish folksong “Danny Boy.” Two new commissioned pieces include “When We Sing” by Rosephanye Powell, which came out of the recent findings that our heartbeats start to sync when we sing together. Who knew? Then again, why not? When we sing, we breathe together. We share emotions. We feel the same rhythms. Why shouldn’t our heartbeats get in step? (Twice during each “Anthem” concert, the audience will have the chance to sing along with Cantus.) The other commission is an arrangement of “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Stephen Caracciolo, which also appears on Cantus’ new recording, “A Harvest Home,” a collection of songs for Thanksgiving.

The season starts Thursday, Oct. 16 with a 7:30 p.m. concert at the Cowles, then moves to Hamline’s Sundin Music Hall, Trinity Lutheran in Stillwater, Colonial Church of Edina, and Saint Bartholomew Catholic Church in Wayzata. All now have reserved seating. FMI and tickets ($30 adults and seniors, $10 students and children). If you want a peek at Cantus, here’s their NPR Tiny Desk Concert from February 2013.

The winners of the 10th Annual Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance were celebrated last night at the Goodale Theater in the Cowles Center, and homage was paid to their namesake, the late Sage Cowles. The Outstanding Dance Performance award (for the creator of a show, a work or a piece of choreography) went to Karen Sherman (for “One with Others”) and Maia Maiden (for “Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographer’s Evening”). Jesse Neumann-Peterson and Duncan Schultz took the Outstanding Dance Performer awards. Black Label Movement won Outstanding Dance Ensemble for “Wreck.” Rosy Simas and Mike Grogan took home the Outstanding Design award. Judith Howard was named Outstanding Dance Educator, and the Special Citation was given to Young Dance.

In June, the Knight Foundation opened its first-ever Green Line Challenge, a $1.5-million, three-year commitment to improve St. Paul neighborhoods along the new Green Line. Like the Knight Arts Challenge, whose winners were named in September, it invited ideas from everyone. Among the 16 winning Green Line ideas, announced Tuesday, are three with a strong arts focus. More Jazz on Selby will create a jazz cultural corridor along Selby between Dale and Lexington in the Rondo neighborhood. The Four Seasons Public Art Wayfinding Project will lead people from the Fairview Green Line station to neighboring areas. And the Victoria Theater Arts Initiative will work to transform the long-vacant Victoria Theater into a cultural destination. Read about all the winners here.

Book sales are under way at many area libraries. The books are ex-library and patron donations. Most are priced at $2 or less. Here’s a list of upcoming sales so you can plan accordingly.

The Picks

Tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 15) at Mixed Blood Theatre: “Colossal.” Jana Sackmeister of Theoroi, a young professionals group sponsored by the Schubert Club, wrote this preview for MinnPost: “Football is rarely the topic of a play, but it is at Mixed Blood, which worked with four other regional theaters (the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland, Dallas Theater Center, Company One Theatre in Boston, and Southern Rep Theatre in New Orleans) to create ‘Colossal,’ a play about a great American pastime. Drenched in the passion of the game, it tells the story of a star player whose life is changed by a spinal cord injury. He struggles to come to terms not only with his new normal, but with expectations of his own sexuality. We’ve heard that the cast performs with raw strength and masculinity, while tackling the emotional outcomes of injury, romance, and physical violence. The play is structured as four 15-minute acts with a halftime drum-line performance.” Written by Andrew Hinderaker, directed by Will Davis. FMI and tickets ($20). Also available: Mixed Blood’s Radical Hospitality program, where admission is free. Through Nov. 9.

Tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 16) at the Westminster Town Hall Forum: Bob Herbert: “Losing Our Way: Can We Restore the American Dream?” The former op-ed columnist for the New York Times presents stories of struggling Americans and challenges the shift in political influence from the working population of the 1960s to today’s corporate and financial elite. At Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. Noon. Free.

Thursday at the Groveland Gallery and the Burnet Gallery at the Chambers: Michael Kareken: “Parts.” Two galleries team up for a joint exhibition of Kareken’s work. See his charcoal and conté drawings at Groveland Annex and his large mixed-media paintings at Burnet. Kareken’s themes include automotive salvage yards, dismantled cars, parts and pieces, which to him symbolize society and the human condition, vulnerability and fragility. Opening receptions: 5 to 7 p.m. at Groveland, 6 to 9 p.m. at Burnet, with the artist present at both. Free. A free shuttle service will run between the galleries from 5 to 9.

Thursday at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley: Zacharias Plays Mozart. Celebrated pianist, master Mozart interpreter, and SPCO artistic partner Christian Zacharias performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17. Also on the program: two Haydn symphonies (nos. 40 and 87) and James Woolrich’s “Ulysses Awakes,” with soloist Maiya Papach, the orchestra’s principal violist. 7:30 p.m. Also Friday (morning and evening) at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Saturday evening at Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ in St. Paul. Tickets start at $12. FMI and tickets.

The Weekend

Saturday, Oct. 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center: Diwali. The Hindu Society of Minnesota (HSMN) celebrates the Festival of Lights with a gala cultural show that features music, Bollywood dance performances, a shopping bazaar, and lovely Indian food. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended. All ages. FMI and tickets ($20–$100).

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