Five films at Twin Cities Film Fest to spotlight animals; ‘Two Degrees’ at the Guthrie

“Life in the Doghouse”
Docutainment Films
“Life in the Doghouse” is an irresistible documentary about horse trainers turned dog rescuers.

The 2018 Twin Cities Film Fest doesn’t start until later this month – Wednesday, Oct. 17, to be precise – but it’s not too soon for animal lovers to stock up on pocket-sized packets of Kleenex. You’ll need them.

Each year, TCFF programs a Changemakers Series to raise awareness of a social cause. This year’s cause is animal humanity. Five films will spotlight animals and people who help them. Rachel Mairose of Secondhand Hounds is this year’s Changemaker Award Honoree. The rescue organization she leads and founded in 2009 has saved more than 16,000 dogs, cats and other critters at risk.

These are the films.

“Belong to Us.” A heartwarming family drama about an injured dog that escapes an underground dog-fighting ring and helps to heal the rift between a father and daughter. Kansas City filmmaker Patrick Rea (much of the film was shot there) has previously made horror films. This isn’t one of them.

“Chasing the Thunder.” In this high-seas feature documentary, a ship owned by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd pursues a notorious fish poacher across two seas and three oceans. It was the longest pursuit ever of a pirate fishing vessel, lasting 100 days and more than 10,000 miles before its dramatic conclusion. It will be shown with “Rhino Shield,” about VETPAW’s work on behalf of South Africa’s rhino populations.

“Life in the Doghouse.” An irresistible documentary about Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, founders of Danny and Ron’s Rescue. Horse trainers turned dog rescuers by Hurricane Katrina, they have saved 11,000 dogs. All of the dogs live with them first, before being adopted. When this film was made, they were sharing their home with 70 dogs. Ron Davis’s film captures the remarkable kindness of men who specialize in saving dogs who have been “red coded” – meaning they’re in kill shelters and their time is up.

“Saving Flora.” Jenna Ortega (“Jane the Virgin”), David Arquette, Tom Arnold and Rhea Perlman are in the cast of Mark Taylor’s family drama about a 14-year-old girl who saves an elephant named Flora. Once the star of a circus, Flora can no longer perform her tricks, and the ringleader decides to have her put down. But his daughter has other plans.

“The Eyes of Thailand.” More elephants! Windy Borman’s documentary tells the true story of one woman’s fight to help elephants injured by land mines – and save other elephants from suffering the same fate. Hint: It’s partly about the incredible feat of designing and creating elephant-sized prostheses. Narrated by Ashley Judd.

FMI including trailers, screening times and tickets.

The picks

Today (Friday, Oct. 5) through Sunday in Harris and Sunrise: Fall Pottery Sales. Three Minnesota potters of the upper St. Croix River will hold their fall sales as the leaves turn to flame all around. In Harris (2785 Stark Rd.), Matthew Krousey will host Robert Briscoe, Jo Severson, Adam Gruetzmacher and Hironobu “Nishi” Nishitateno. Important note: This will be Jo Severson’s final show. After 45 years of making quietly beautiful, eminently functional and utterly timeless pots, she’s throwing in the wheel, or the kiln, or whatever potters do when they retire. Noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. FMI. In Sunrise, (41421 Ferry Rd.), Will Swanson and Janel Jacobson will host Jeff Oestreich, Ernest Miller, Joe Singewald and Karin Kraemer. After 20 years of working in wood, carving small, exquisite sculptures, Jacobson has returned to clay, and her porcelain pots with their delicate carving and soft celadon glazes are remarkable. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. FMI.

A place setting by potter Jo Severson.
Courtesy of the artist
A place setting by potter Jo Severson.
Tonight at the Weisman: Preview party for “Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India.” A window into life and culture in contemporary India, the Weisman’s new exhibition includes 47 paintings by 24 artists from four major indigenous artistic traditions. At the preview party, Ragamala Dance will perform its original work “Sacred Earth,” DJ Chamun will keep the music going, and small bites will be served. 7-10 p.m. Free, but please register. FMI and registration.

Opens tonight at the Guthrie: “Two Degrees.” The Guthrie launches its Dowling Studio season with the Midwest premiere of a play about climate change and coping with personal tragedy. Called to Washington, D.C., to testify before a congressional committee, paleoclimatologist Emma Phelps carries both her grief about the planet and her anguish over the recent death of her husband. The play by Tira Palmquist is being presented by Prime Productions, a professional theater begun in 2016 to support women over 50 and their stories. Shelli Place directs a cast that includes Norah Long as Emma, with Joel Liestman, Touissant Morrison and Jennifer Whitlock. “Two Degrees” is part of the Guthrie’s Level Nine series and all tickets are $9. Mature language and content. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets. Ends Oct. 21.

Tonight at the Mall of America: 4th Annual Curated Style: Straight from the Runway Fashion Show. After 16 seasons, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are leaving “Project Runway.” The show will move to Bravo, and Klum and Gunn will work with Amazon on something new. Meanwhile, eight “Project Runway” designers will show off their Autumn/Winter 2018 collections in MOA’s rotunda, including Minnesota’s own Christopher Straub (Season 6), Justin LeBlanc (12), Mondo Guerra (8), Laurence Basse (15) and Candice Cuoco (14). General admission viewing from levels 2, 3 and 4. 8 p.m. FMI. Free.

Saturday at Macalester’s Mairs Concert Hall: The Singers in Concert: Shadows, Tears & Light. The acclaimed choral ensemble led by Matthew Culloton will open its 15th anniversary season with David Lang’s “little match girl passion,” winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna,” performed with chamber orchestra. In the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, 130 Macalester St. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($22-36; students free with ID at the door).

Kevin Jorgeson resting in a portaledge from “The Dawn Wall.”
Sender Films/Red Bull Media House
Kevin Jorgeson resting in a portaledge from “The Dawn Wall.”
Monday in metro movieplexes: “The Dawn Wall.” In January 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captured the world’s attention with the first free climb of El Capitan’s 3,000-foot Dawn Wall. But that’s not all this nail-biter is about. Caldwell had previously bested great personal obstacles. He was a wimpy kid whose father took him rock climbing to toughen him up. By 22, he was an elite climber on a trip to Kyrgyzstan when he and his companions were taken hostage. Back home in the U.S., he accidentally cut off one of his own fingers. Winner of the 2018 SXSW Audience Award, this is a riveting climbing movie and an affecting human story. Here’s the trailer. To find the nearest theater, go here and enter your city or ZIP.

Tuesday at Icehouse: Accordo. The top-tier string ensemble made up of present and former SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra principal string players will start its 10th season, “Schubertiade,” on Monday. But that concert – in the new Westminster Hall at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis – is sold out. On Tuesday, in the more casual environs of Icehouse, you can hear selections from the program (string quintets by Cherubini and Schubert). FMI and tickets ($24/12). So you know, Accordo’s Dec. 3 concert at Westminster Hall is also sold out. If you want to hear Accordo in its new space, a few tickets for Feb. 4 and March 11, 2019, are still available. For future reference, this looks like something to jump on as soon as the season is announced.

Hot ticket: Aby Wolf and Eric Mayson Work-in-Progress

With support from a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant, vocalist/composer Aby Wolf and keyboardist/composer Eric Mayson are creating “Champagne Confetti,” a new work based in improvisation. The performers are an assemblage of interesting musicians: vocalists Cameron Kinghorn (Nooky Jones), Amy Hager and Jacob Mullis (Fort Wilson Riot, Pomonono); violinist Sarah Pajunen and cellist Jonathan Kaiser (Dark, Dark, Dark); percussionists Joey Van Phillips (Dessa, Mystery Palace) and Heather Barringer (Zeitgeist); and bassist Ted Olsen. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Public Functionary, you can hear where they are so far. Doors at 6 p.m., music at 7. FMI and tickets ($10).

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