When: Ends Saturday.

Tickets: $14. mspfilm.org.

 

Minding the Gap

⋆⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars

7:05 p.m. Fri., 4:35 p.m. Sat., St. Anthony Main, 115 SE. Main St., Mpls. (U.S.)

 

Just outside Chicago, skateboarding friends Zack, Keire and Bing share personal stories through hours of video (shot by Bing). As their bond grows weaker, their lives change in complex, drastic and life-affirming ways, leaving each searching for answers through commitments and responsibilities with unexpected results. Shot over eight years, Bing Liu’s astonishing and heartbreaking debut documentary unfolds as a powerful saga of self-discovery, uncompromising dreams and finding a path toward survival and true happiness. (98 min.)

JIM BRUNZELL III

A Moment in the Reeds

⋆⋆½

7 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Sat., St. Anthony Main (Finland/U.K.)

 

College student Leevi returns to Helsinki to help his father renovate the family lake home. Another man, Tareq, is called in to help, though Leevi’s father is unsure of him because he doesn’t speak Finnish. When the father leaves for a few days, the two men have long conversations about life and their future, and strike up a romantic connection. First-time writer/director Mikko Makela doesn’t reinvent the wheel on brief encounters or first romances, but gets passionate performances from his actors, and the Finnish countryside is stunning. (107 min.) J.B

The Rider

⋆⋆⋆⋆

7 p.m. Sat., St. Anthony Main (U.S.)

 

It’s no surprise that Chloe Zhao’s warm drama — the festival’s closing-night film — took the top director’s prize in Cannes. Her lyrical look at Lakota life in modern cowboy country, shot entirely on location within South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, plunges you into a world of real people. The title character is a young rodeo star (played by real riding competitor Brady Jandreau) grappling with his future after a bucking horse badly damages his skull and right hand. A second concussion could be fatal. His never-say-die commitment to the sport moves his father to growl “Go ahead, kill yourself.” Yet he has few options beyond menial work at the local grocery and leaving his beloved horses would be almost sacrilegious. There is an understated suspense in whether he can parlay the bad hand that fate has dealt him into a meaningful victory. The usual dramatic devices of feature-film storytelling are substantially ignored here. They’re unnecessary. In this simple, handsomely shot, well constructed story, fiction never seems to take over. Zhao, a U.S.-based Chinese filmmaker, does more than draw sublime performances from her nonprofessional cast. She illuminates the divides of American life with a perspective rich in realism, naturalism and earthy poetry. (103 min.)

COLIN COVERT