ART BEAT // A moving portrait of Minneapolis

18 filmmakers, 25 short films, one city

Minneapolis, je t’aime.

Inspired by “Paris, je t’aime,” a group of 18 directors will do for The City of Lakes what that 2006 film did for The City of Light: assemble a collective portrait of the city they love, neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

Dubbed The Minneapolis Project 2010, the omnibus film includes 25 shorts, each no more than 5 minutes long and set in a different corner of the city. Southwest scenes with a supporting actor credit include Lake Calhoun, Whittier, The Wedge, Kenwood, Lakewood Cemetery and Uptown.

Since he assembled the project, Cinema Revolution Society Executive Director John Koch claimed dibs on Uptown, former home to his dearly departed video rental store. (The store may be gone, but Cinema Revolution Society lives on as an organization dedicated to the appreciation and creation of cinema.)

“I really wanted to document the place as it is now, plus the way I see myself in Uptown — which is kind of an alienated stance, just because of the way the demographic has changed so much,” Koch said.

The narrative hinges on a missed connection, but the backdrop is a neighborhood that has shed its scruffy image in an ongoing corporate makeover. For Koch, nothing symbolizes the change quite like the shiny new Apple Store standing where the Uptown Bar once rocked late into the night, so he gave the Hennepin Avenue storefront a cameo in “Tomorrow.”

The collection of shorts, set to screen together later this month at Riverview Theater as a feature-length film, are certain to give Minneapolis residents a new view of their surroundings. They might even see some neighbors up on the big screen.

Los Angelino Yoko Okumura flew back to her hometown to quickly film “The Rescue” in the Kenwood neighborhood this summer. Okumura used neighborhood connections to assemble her cast, which included several Kenwood residents.

“The actual filmmaking process definitely made me appreciate the close knit community there,” she said.

The plot of “The Rescue” revolves around the changing ownership of a gnome sculpture, so it was serendipitous, she said, that “a weird gnome fad” was in evidence in Kenwood’s yards when she arrived. Neighbors donated their lawn sculptures for film props.

Filmmaker Dave Deal shot on the fly around Lake Calhoun, and as Deal collected the images that would make “Loon Lake Dance,” he thought about the history of that much-loved lake. Once the site of a Native American encampment (a fact the film’s title alludes to), the popular recreation spot these days is burdened with the stereotype of a “roller rink meat market,” he said.

But while filming Deal saw more than toned bodies gliding by on Rollerblades. He saw families on picnics, dog walkers, sunbathers and hula-hoopers in a social environment he compared to an Italian piazza.

The experience led Deal to this truth: More than a collection of neighborhoods or landmarks, he said, “a city is the people.”

The Minneapolis Project 2010 screens 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Ave. S. 


Prints on the road

THE WEDGE — Kristin Makholm runs a museum without a home.

The former Minneapolis College of Art and Design gallery director was named executive director of Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA) in June 2009, several months after financial difficulties led the St. Paul institution to close galleries. At that time, Makholm was in charge of a museum whose 3,500 objects were in storage, not on display.

That hasn’t stopped her from showing pieces from that collection since in a kind of road show model that pulled into Highpoint Center for Printmaking earlier this month. Two dozen of the museum’s prints by American artists, including some prominent Minnesotans, give a glimpse into its diverse collection.

“[It is] a really great opportunity to bring the museum and its collection into a new sphere, into a new venue in front of new audiences,” Makholm said.

Highlights of the Highpoint show include a 1977 lithograph by Philip Guston featuring one of his favorite motifs, a pile of shoes, rendered in his moody, cartoony expressionism. Native American landscape painter George Morrison, a Minnesota native, and Hamline University professor Leonardo Lasansky are among the locals included in Makholm’s selections.

“Director’s Choice: Prints from the Minnesota Museum of American Art” runs through Oct. 5 at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St. 871-1326.