Duluth theater, Minnesota Film Festival screen Bob Saget's last movie
The dark comedy “Daniel’s Gotta Die” leads the five-day event featuring international filmmakers, Q&As and even more movies.
DULUTH — It’s a big week for Matthew Dressel. His film is hitting the big screen, finally, after 12 years, “a million” rewrites and a pandemic.
“Daniel’s Gotta Die” leads the Minnesota Film Festival with screenings at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Zinema 2 in downtown Duluth.
“There’s nothing like a hometown premiere,” said the film’s screenwriter.
This marks the first big project for Dressel , and the final role for longtime actor Bob Saget , who died during post-production.
"Bob didn't want to see it until it was totally finished. So he never actually got to see the film, which is really heartbreaking for me because he loved the script, he loved working on it, he was such a champion for it,” said director Jeremy LaLonde in a 2022 News Tribune story .
In “Daniel’s Gotta Die,” Saget (“Full House”) joins Joel David Moore ("Avatar"), Jason Jones ("The Detour") and Mary Lynn Rajskub ("24") in a dark comedy about a family that aims to kill “the good son” in order to snag the family inheritance.
After the Wednesday night screening, Rajskub will perform a standup set at 10:30 p.m. in Teatro Zuccone.
The Minnesota Film Festival — formerly the North by North International Film Festival — runs Wednesday through Sunday at Zeitgeist Arts Center, 222 E. Superior St. A $75 badge covers all festival events.
Expect filmmakers from South Korea, Vancouver and Thunder Bay, many screenings, and filmmakers will be awarded $18,000 in grants during festival pitch competitions.
The latter is a unique opportunity for festival-goers, who can sit in on the sessions, and for new and emerging filmmakers looking for funding in any part of the production process.
We have a strong desire to see, hear and champion local voices, said festival director Matt Koshmrl.
The Minnesota Film Festival and Minnesota Media Arts School are among the latest in combined efforts from Zeitgeist, the Upper Midwest Film Office , Koshmrl, Dressel and many others to support regional filmmakers.
“We’re trying to create an independent film ecosystem,” added Koshmrl, who will see some of these efforts come full circle this week.
“Game of Stones,” one of last year’s winning pitches about the history of Chisholm’s curling club, is scheduled to premiere at 5 p.m Wednesday and noon Saturday. Mark Wangensteen, the director and a former film school student of Koshmrl, completed the 15-minute documentary with a $3,500 grant awarded during last year’s festival.
Participating in the film school has been a game changer for Wangensteen and his family. (“My son is now a film major at Augsburg University in Minneapolis," he said.)
This experience has allowed him to tell the stories of his community, stories that should be told by its members. “If somebody that didn’t live here did a documentary on the curling club, it wouldn’t have the same weight. It was the relationships I had, and access to the club. … I was the right person to tell the story,” he said.
Another goal of the film festival is to bring in films that will connect to and entertain the region’s audience.
Here are some highlights from this year’s lineup:
- “ Dairyland ," 5 p.m. Wednesday. A Wisconsin farmer aims to stay open through the rough realities of the industry.
- “ Swimming Through ," 5 p.m. Wednesday. Take a dip with a couple of Chicago’s avid open water swimmers, whose Lake Michigan dips propel them through snow, ice and a pandemic.
- “OKAY! The ASD Band Film ," 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Folks on the autism spectrum write and record their first album.
- “ Heart of Gartman ," 8 p.m. Thursday. A Duluth musician hits a crossroads of mental health and impending change. Includes interviews with Al Sparhawk, Dave Carroll, Brian "Lefty" Johnson.
- “ Alex’s Machine ," 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Biomechanics student Alex goes all in on her class project made from artificial flesh.
- “ Mother Dear ," 4:30 p.m. Friday. Language barriers loom as an ailing mother is reunited in Korea with the Minnesota-raised son she gave up for adoption 40 years prior.
- “Pancake’s Pasture ," 6:30 p.m. Friday. Strange memories and bedwetting plague rebellious teen Tyler in this dark comedy set in the 1990s.
- “Finding Her Beat ," 7 p.m. Friday. Talented female performers break barriers in Taiko drumming, a historically mens-only craft.
- “ The Egret River ," 11 a.m. Saturday. A guard meets an egret in a lush field known only to him. Part of family-friendly shorts block. 11 a.m. Saturday.
- " Extraction ," 2 p.m. Saturday. A surreal immersion into the literal and metaphorical forms of extraction as it affects Indigenous people. Animated by Duluth artist Moira Villiard. Part of Indigenous filmmakers shorts block.
- “Provo ," 3 p.m. Saturday. Drug addict Liz she sets out to confront her traumatic childhood in Utah.
- “ Sincerely, Black Women ," 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Twin Cities artists, authors, journalists discuss, “What does being a black woman mean to you?”
- “ Battleground ," 4 p.m. Sunday. Follow three women leading anti-abortion organizations as they witness the influence they wield — as well as those fighting to maintain access.
If you go
- What: Minnesota Film Festival
- When: Wednesday-Sunday
- Where: Zeitgeist Arts, 222 E. Superior St., Duluth
- Cost: $75 badge covers all events
- More info: zeitgeistarts.com/mff
- 4:30 p.m.: Opening ceremony, Zeitgeist Atrium
- 5 p.m.: Our Stories Shorts Block, Zinema 1
- 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.: “Daniel’s Gotta Die,” Zinema 1 and Zinema 2
- 9:30 p.m.: Champagne toast, Zeitgeist Atrium
- 10:30 p.m.: Mary Lynn Rasjkub LIVE, Teatro
- 3 p.m.: Pitch Competition, Teatro
- 5 p.m.: “Memory & Landscapes,” Zinema 1
- 5:30 p.m.: “Seeking Adulthood,” Zinema 2
- 7:30 p.m.: “OKAY! The ASD Band Film,” Zinema 1
- 8 p.m.: “Stories From Lake Superior,” Zinema 2
- 9:30 p.m.: Late Night Shorts Block, Zinema 1
- 1 p.m.: Pitch competition, Teatro
- 3 p.m.: UMFO Happy Hour, Blacklist Brewery
- 4:30 p.m.: “Mother Dear,” Zinema 2
- 5 p.m.: “Above & All Around,” Zinema 1
- 6:30 p.m.: “Life’s A…,” Zinema 2
- 7 p.m.: “Finding Her Beat,” Zinema 1
- 10 p.m.: Comedy Cinematheque, Teatro
- 10:30 a.m.: Filmmaker brunch, Restaurant & Bar
- 11 a.m.: Family friendly shorts, Zinema 1
- 12 p.m.: Sports shorts block, Zinema 2
- 1 p.m.: “Last Election & Other Love Stories,” Zinema 1
- 2 p.m.: Indigenous Filmmaker Shorts, Zinema 2
- 3 p.m.: “Provo,” Zinema 1
- 4 p.m.: “Her 5th Room,” Zinema 2
- 5 p.m.: “A Winter Love,” Zinema 1
- 7 p.m.: Awards ceremony, Greysolon
- 11:30 a.m.: “The Last Seed,” Zinema 1
- 12:30 p.m.: “In Search of Solid Ground,” Zinema 2
- 1:30 p.m.: “Truth to Power,” Zinema 1
- 3 p.m.: “Broken Angel,” Teatro
- 3:30 p.m.: “Small Town Life,” Zinema 2
- 4 p.m.: “Battleground,” Zinema 1
- 6:30 p.m.: “Bough Brothers,” Zinema 1
- 9 p.m.: Closing night party, Fitger’s Barrel Room