Festival will have lots of MN-made films, a couple tributes – and virtual reality

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival will look at how virtual reality is transforming film.

Details about this year's Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival are trickling out and one of the things we now know about next month's event is that it will take an up-close look at a new playground for filmmakers: virtual reality.

The 2017 festival runs from April 13 through 29 in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester. While the full schedule of 250 films from 70 countries won't come out until later this month, festival organizers did release some tidbits on Tuesday.

And one of their revelations is that they'll feature 11 projects by filmmakers working in virtual reality or its cousin augmented reality.

"Virtual/Augmented Reality is radically transforming how we experience the medium of film," festival organizers say. Some of the same artists whose works are being featured will take part in a panel discussion, "VR/AR & the Future of Storytelling" on April 22.

If you want help warming up for the discussion, there's background on the intersection of virtual reality and cinema from Audio Network and from Hackastory. And at last year's Sundance Film Festival The Verge talked with some virtual reality filmmakers about their craft.

Minnesota films and 2 new awards

MSPIFF (that's short for Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival) says it's showing more than 80 locally made films.

Many of them are short films (there's a list here) but there are also documentaries on topics like May Day in Minneapolis, how the oil boom has transformed lives in western North Dakota, and Winona LaDuke's campaign against the Enbridge Pipeline in northern Minnesota.

There are also two new awards being presented this year. Director Frederick Wiseman will be honored with the Master Filmmaker Tribute. Wiseman's 50-year career as a documentary maker earned him a Governor's Award last fall from the same people who give out the Oscars.

Also, producer Sarah Pillsbury will receive the first Minnesota Cinematic Arts Award. Pillsbury, whose great-grandfather put the family name on a Minneapolis flour milling company, has been producing movies since moving to California in the 1970s, though MinnPost insists she's "once and always a Minnesotan."

MSPIFF will be spread across five venues this year: the Capri, Uptown, and St. Anthony Main theaters in Minneapolis, the Film Space at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, and the Marcus Wehrenberg 14 Theater in Rochester. Tickets and passes are available here.

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