Film Fete

  • Article by: CHRISTY DESMITH , Special to the Star Tribume
  • Updated: August 2, 2008 - 3:33 PM

A questionable blue cocktail helped unite the crowd at a party celebrating 20 years of IFP Minnesota's support of local filmmaking.

At first, it looked to be the prelude to a battle between the funders and the funsters.

The scene was IFP Minnesota's 20th-anniversary party July 24 at the Varsity Theater, where the room was neatly divided in two: Up front near the stage, established filmmakers and financiers were seated around tables. These folks had plunked down $250 for tickets to an early-evening VIP dinner and panel discussion. At 8 p.m., they were still finishing their meals when a chatty group of hipsters who'd paid only $35 filtered into the back of the room and stood en masse near the bar.

Nothing could shush them.

As IFP executive director Jane Minton remarked on her 19 years with the organization, and even when Best Buy CEO and major IFP MN sponsor Brad Anderson took to the stage, a persistent hubbub emanated from the bar. Later, when restaurateur/raconteur Kieran Folliard began his gig as celebrity auctioneer, the young'uns only got louder.

But luckily, people were enjoying themselves on both sides of the aisle. And no wonder -- the IFPini, a concoction resembling antifreeze that was the evening's signature cocktail, was free from 8 to 9 p.m.

How did it taste? "That's a matter of opinion," said Marcia Stout, who attended with husband John Stout, a finance and entertainment lawyer at Fredrikson & Byron who also served as executive producer on the film "A Prairie Home Companion."

Local celebs on hand included KMSP-TV (Channel 9) news anchor Robyne Robinson, documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert and all three members of the band the New Standards. Local legend Al Milgrom, founder of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, wore an unlikely ensemble of short-sleeved plaid shirt and khaki shorts. For much of the evening, he carried a fishing hat in his hands.

Stillwater native Rich Sommer, the bowtie-and-specs guy on the hit AMC drama "Mad Men" who also played one of Anne Hathaway's gang in "The Devil Wears Prada," proved not to have lost his Minnesota nice-ness. He happily entertained questions about the Brave New Workshop, where he was an intern.

"They completely shaped my career," he said. "They taught me to do what I do and still be able to enjoy myself."

Actress Kimberly Elise, who hails from Minneapolis ("Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Beloved"), was hanging out with Robin Hickman, executive director of SoulTouch Productions and also a great-niece of Gordon Parks. Elise looked old-Hollywood glamorous (and rail-thin!) in a long white gown. But when asked about the origins of the dress, her behavior was classic Midwest. There was a long, awkward pause. "It was a gift," she finally said. "I'm not sure where it came from. ... I'm not a label girl."

Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.

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