Al Milgrom, photographed in 2006 in his office, is still making movies -- several of them -- at 95. /Elizabeth Flores
An Oscar nominee and the self-described "world's oldest emerging filmmaker" will be honored Thursday at the FilmNorth annual gala.
Debra Granik, who earned a 2011 screenwriting nomination for "Winter's Bone," will receive the FilmNorth Award for her achievements, which include this year's "Leave No Trace." Local film legend and founder of the U Film Society Al Milgrom will get the FilmNorth Legacy Award. The gala is at Sweet Chow and the $75 tickets are available at myfilmnorth.org.
Milgrom, "pushing 96," is now at work on documentaries about five subjects: a Czech polka band and others of Czech heritage in Minnesota, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Berryman (Milgrom was his teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota), a Minnesota group devoted to preserving the Yiddish language, a 1959 trip to Russia and the Transcarpathian community of northern Minnesota.
"I have to do these simultaneously or I won't be done until I'm about 120," jokes Milgrom, who founded U Film in 1962, as well as the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, bringing the world of foreign and independent film to Minnesota.
"There was nothing here in Minneapolis, or really the Midwest, so Film Quarterly and the Village Voice would arouse my curiosity and I'd think, 'Why should we go to San Francisco or New York to see these movies?'" recalls Milgrom, who programmed hundreds of films, including a run of the Italian "Tree of Wooden Clogs" that ended up lasting six months.
Milgrom brought movie greats such as Jean-Luc Godard, Milos Forman, Agnieszka Holland and Josef Von Sternberg to the Twin Cities, while also traveling to film festivals -- and sleeping on couches -- around the world (he met Granik in 2010, at the Berlin Film Festival).
Milgrom is not sure what he'll talk about when he accepts the award -- maybe the time the film society showed an Andrzej Wajda film in a blizzard and the theater was 3/4 full of people who had to get there on skis? -- but it's a good bet that, right after the event, he'll be back to work, making movies.