The Minneapolis St. Paul Film Society is welcoming folks to its 41st annual festival (MSPIFF) and to its renamed venue, MSP Film at the Main.

The former St. Anthony Main theaters have been closed for remodeling, including projection and theater upgrades. Moving forward, MSP Film will program its five screens, focusing on international and independent programming.

The fest, which runs Thursday through May 19, features filmmaker appearances and about 200 movies from around the world, including the opener, "The Phantom of the Open," a golf-themed comedy starring Guthrie Theater fave and Oscar winner Mark Rylance. Some titles also are available to stream.

There's new work from top directors such as Terence Davies ("Benediction") and Ron Howard ("We Feed People"), as well as a tribute to former St. Paul resident Gordon Parks, including his gorgeous "Leadbelly." Or you can buy ticket packages and take a chance on the dozens of titles. To give you a head start, here are some I've seen, starting with my favorites.

'The Story of Film: A New Generation'

If the best thing a festival can do is make you want to see more movies, then "Generation" is this year's MSPIFF star. Mark Cousins surveys the greatest movies of the past 25 years, making astute observations, including a connection between "Mad Max: Fury Road" and Buster Keaton's "The General." (7 p.m. May 16 and 12:45 p.m. May 19)

'Fire of Love'

Last year's MSPIFF included Sundance hit "Summer of Soul," on its way to an Oscar. This year, it will take a remarkable doc to beat Sundance hit "Fire of Love," which is not just a portrait of married volcano researchers in the '70s and '80s but also an extraordinary piece of filmmaking (by director Sara Dosa) that blends animation, stunning nature footage and thoughtful essay. (4:45 p.m. May 6 and 4:20 p.m. May 10)

'Lost Illusions'

Winner of this year's Cesar (the French Oscar) for best picture, it wickedly satirizes Paris' 19th-century theater and publishing worlds. Expertly skewering class and hypocrisy, the Honoré de Balzac adaptation is witty, stylishly acted (the cast includes Gerard Depardieu) and, ultimately, sad. (6:50 p.m. May 14 and 6:45 p.m. May 18)


Want something wild? Rebecca Hall is incredible as a brisk professor, with a daughter about to head off to college, who is shadowed by a man from her past (Tim Roth, whose forced geniality is a sure sign he's bad news). Go ahead. Guess what event haunts them in this psychological thriller from Minnesota native Andrew Semans. I guarantee you'll be wrong. (7 p.m. May 13 and 9:30 p.m. May 14)

'Lo Invisible'

Something terrible seems imminent in every minute of the Ecuadorean drama about Luisa (magnetic Anahi Hoeneisen, who co-wrote the screenplay), who's recovering from postpartum depression. Hoeneisen burrows so deeply into Luisa, trapped in a modernist mansion perched on the edge of a mountain like a James Bond villains' lair, that it's only a matter of time before she descends into madness. (2 p.m. May 9 and 7:50 p.m. May 15)


Visually stunning, sensitively acted and devastatingly honest, this Dominican Republic/Argentina co-production explores privilege. Directors Ulises Porra and Silvina Schnicer use the trappings of a thriller to depict a teenager and her devoted nanny, whose bond is ripped apart by a car accident. Like a similar one in "The Great Gatsby," the crash reveals how carelessly some wealthy people trample on the less fortunate. (4:30 p.m. May 10 and 1:50 p.m. May 16)

'Sweet Disaster'

It's dangerous to hinge a comedy on its lead charming the pants off of us (see, for instance, Emilia Clarke failing to do that in "Last Christmas"). The German "Disaster" succeeds because Friederike Kempter is delightful as a bundle of energy who becomes pregnant by a louse of an ex but relieves her gloom in imaginatively shot fantasy sequences. (11 a.m. May 6, 7 p.m. May 8, 4:30 p.m. May 10 and 1:45 p.m. May 12)

'The Emigrants'

The sort of wide-screen epic that Hollywood rarely touches anymore, "The Emigrants" is based on the Swedish novels that inspired the Oscar-nominated, early-'70s movies of the same name. Unlike them, it wasn't filmed in Minnesota but the deeply moving drama is set near Taylors Falls. In one spectacular scene, protagonist Kristina has a frightening encounter with Indigenous people while giving birth. She also battles sexism, prejudice and mental illness in a vibrantly lensed film that is marred only by yammering narration. (6:40 p.m. May 8, 2 p.m. May 15 and 1 p.m. May 19)

'We Feed People'

There's nothing here that hasn't been in TV or magazine profiles but the message bears repeating: Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen are inspiring, world-changing forces for good. Director Howard follows them to disaster-hit locations including the Bahamas and Puerto Rico to do what the title says. (2:20 p.m. May 8 and 7:15 p.m. May 13)

'Free Renty: Lanier vs. Harvard'

It's a straightforward documentary with an explosive subject. We watch as attorneys debate how to proceed with Tamara Lanier's lawsuit, demanding that Harvard University return a daguerreotype that depicts her enslaved ancestor Renty. The debate broadens to include consent, reparations for descendants of enslaved people and the rights of corporations. (4 p.m. May 15 and 2 p.m. May 18)

'Move Me'

Kelsey Peterson has quite a story to tell. The Minneapolis dancer — who was paralyzed in a swimming accident — grapples with OK'ing a life-altering procedure, her father's illness and the creation of a piece called "The Cripple Dance." (7 p.m. May 12 and 4 p.m. May 18)

'Kendra and Beth'

Dean Peterson's Twin Cities-shot "Kendra" wraps up too tidily in search of a non-bleak ending. Before that, the comedy/drama is a bracing and unusual portrait of a woman realizing she's reached the end of one phase of her life but not sure what comes next. Beth (Kate Lyn Sheil, brilliant) is stuck when a chance encounter with free-spirited Kendra opens a new path. (7 p.m. Sun. and 9:30 p.m. May 18)

'Tigre Gente'

The Spanish-language doc's title refers to a legend about kids turning into jaguars. Our hero, a Bolivian park ranger, goes undercover to halt poaching of the beautiful animal that is vital to our ecosystem while a journalist investigates the Far East trade in exotic animals. Helicopter-shot visuals of beautiful Bolivia go a long way to showing what could be lost forever. (2 p.m. May 10 and 4:30 p.m. May 18)


Satire can get lost in translation but this one rings true. The target is a cult that's turning teenage girls into "Stepford Wife"-like automatons. The middle of the macabre Brazilian comedy bogs down but it scores with an ending that warns about bottling up one's emotions and needs. (9:40 p.m. May 6 and 1:45 p.m. May 9)

'Elektra, My Love'

Five women assemble in a bombed-out Beirut theater to chat, yell at one another and read scenes from Sophocles' "Electra." It's a drab, visually dull film, highlighted by tracking shots that show how beautiful the theater once was, but it feels like a project that's so personal that you must know the person (filmmaker Hisham Bizri) to appreciate it. (7:15 p.m. May 12 and 1:45 p.m. May 13)

41st Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

When: Thursday-May 19.

Where: MSP Film at the Main theaters, 125 SE. Main St., Mpls.

Tickets: $15, passes available,