Minneapolis Underground Film Festival rides again

Greg Yolen (above) has a simple programming philosophy for the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival.

“The films just kind of programmed themselves,” he says

He put the MUFF’s address on the web site and received 45 films from nine countries.

“Everyone else can judge the work,” he says. “I just want to show it.”

All of them are in the 2009 festival which runs this weekend at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Audiences will be asked to vote on the films to decide prizewinners at the event.

He says he learned a lot last year.

“Basically I saw this real interest in films, not only local films, but international underground films, that I didn’t know existed,” he says.

He also learned about timing, and how an event in August, like the first MUFF has to compete with a lot of other distractions. Thus the new December date.

Yolen says the digital revolution has leveled the movie-making playing field, with people making quality flicks in their homes. He says the problem of independent film has usually been story, or lack of it. However he says this year’s entries show film makers are working hard to change that.

He has scored a coup in getting local director John Koch, of Cinema Revolution fame, to present the world premier of his just completed film “The Seducer.”

“He took the whole problem of story out of the equation,” Yolen says. “He’s goy the best writer in history. He shares a writing credit with Fyodor Dostoyevsky. So you’ve got a great story, just put it in a modern context.”

Yolen says he’s a huge fan of Koch’s film making and the special way he tells stories.

Another of his top picks is “Paddle to Seattle,” and adventure documentary made by two friends who built their own kayaks and paddle from Alaska through the inland passage to Seattle.

“It’s just beautiful,” Yolen says, who also recounts terrifying scenes of suddenly finding themselves in the midst of a school of humpback whales.

The MUFF also offers the opportunity to catch up on some locally made films which you may have missed earlier. Melody Gilbert’s “Disconnected” gets a screening, as does “Living Arrangements,” about a vegan couple in Minneapolis who find their deep committment to animal rights is tested when they discover a werewolf living in the attic of their new home. There is also a screening of James Vogel’s “The City.”

The festival is also showing a pile of short films, and some grittier material at its late night screenings.

The full schedule is here, including a number of trailers.

Yolen says he hopes the MUFF will grow and become an important event. He also hopes it will serve as an inspiration for local film makers. He says he’s already encouraging people to make piece for the 2010 festival. He sees it all as part of developing and maintaining a thriving film scene.

“I’m just trying to get through this weekend,” he laughs. “Then I’ll figure it out.”

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