A scene from "Dear White People," a movie shot in the Twin Cities that will screen at Sundance in early 2014.
Two indie films shot in Minnesota have been accepted by the 2014 Sundance Film Festival for screening in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, the prestigious fest's most prominent category.
The social satire "Dear White People," about a group of black students at an Ivy League school, and "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter," based on the true story of a Japanese woman who came to search for the money buried in snow by Steve Buscemi's character in the Coen Brothers' fictional "Fargo," will both be shown at the fest held each January in Park City, Utah.
"Kumiko," which one of its producers, Edina native Jim Burke, characterized as "a teeny-weeny little movie" before shooting began in late 2012, is already being buzzed about on film websites. It stars Rinko Kikuchi ("Pacific Rim," "Babel") and was made by another pair of writing/directing brothers, David and Nathan Zellner.
"Dear White People," directed by first-timer Justin Simien and starring Tessa Thompson and Tyler Williams, was shot just a few months ago at locations including the University of MInnesota, the Woman's Club of Minneapolis and Summit Ave. in St. Paul. It is the first film to have been certifed by the latest version of the Snowbate incentive intended to attract more moviemaking to the state. The Minnesota Film & TV Board got $10 million in Legacy funds for Snowbate earlier this year.
The two Minnesota-made movies will be keeping some lofty company. Stars featured in the 14 other films in the U.S. Dramatic category include Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart, Lena Dunham and Mark Ruffalo.
Out of more than 4,000 films submitted, 67 will be shown in Sundance's four competition categories, part of 117 to be screened overall. Sundance is drawing out the announcements of the rest of the films through Dec. 10, so there may be more with Minnesota connections to come.