Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival kicks off in newly renovated theater

On Thursday the Minneapolis St. Paul Film Society kicking off the 2022 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival at their newly renovated, full-time home at The Main Cinema on St. Anthony Main. 

This is the first time the festival has been back in person since 2019. For about 10 years, the film society has been using the theater on St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis to host the festival, but starting this year, they’ll permanently take over the space. That takeover includes a full renovation of the theater, originally built in 1985. 

"I think seeing a film in a dark room, on a big screen, with other people around you, is what movies are all about and I believe and I think, we all believe here, that movies bring us together," Executive Director of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, Susan Smoluchowski, said. 

The festival features more than 200 films and shorts created by filmmakers from 70 different countries. They’re also featuring local filmmakers like Jessica Rae, a Minneapolis native and writer, producer and director of Raise Your Hand. The film is about two teenage girls growing up in an unnamed Midwestern city the 1990s while dealing with issues like sexual assault, police brutality and financial struggles. Rae says some of the situations in the film were inspired by her and her friends’ own experiences when they were teens. 

"Just to be blunt about it, I took some really honest, difficult situations that I experienced and I just put them into the movie because I didn’t really see a platform where those kinds of situations were talked about," Rae said. 

She says she hopes the film, shot in Los Angeles where she now lives, inspires other young women to use their voice to get through challenges in life. 

Rae says her former high school drama teacher told the MSP Film Society about Rae’s film and encouraged them to include it in the festival. Rae says, that teacher’s guidance when she was a teenager was monumental to her success as a filmmaker. She says a character in Raise Your Hand was inspired by this educator and the characters in the film thrive off of creative outlets, like she did as a teen. 

"These girls use art and creativity to be able to move forward and that was super important to me because I had that as a young person. I was given that gift from my professors and mentors and so I hope that this will share that with other people young people who can make their own art," Rae said. 

Raise Your Hand is screening at The Main on Friday. Rae will hold a question and answer session after the screening. 

MSP Film Society says they’re also offering virtual or streaming options this year, even though they’re back in person. See the schedule and learn more about the featured films here: