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Saturday, April 16, 2005

JAMIE HOOK: THE RIGHT PERSON TO HEAD MFA

Between a late night screening and the closing night party of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival I ran into Minnesota Film Arts Executive Director Jamie Hook. After asking him if he was about to embark on a much earned vacation after the festival end, he responded, "Watch the news, I may resign on Monday morning."

And he didn't say it with the same tone he announced on Opening Night at the Historic State Theater that Al Milgrom had announced his retirement only to reveal it was an April Fools gag.

Without much illumination, and sensing a hint of immediate frustration, Hook explained that he'd spent the last hour on the sidewalk in front of the Uptown Theater arguing with members of the Board of Directors of Minnesota Film Arts about its future.

Needless to say, M-SPIFF is at a cross-roads and the situation is probably loaded with emotion for a number of the past players and newly arrived employees. Bob Cowgill and Al Milgrom are a couple of passionate misfits and miscreants who boldly forged two film entities that, looking back, would be impossible to start during up or down times in the arts economy. Both men deserve high praise, yet, would genuinely bedevil anyone who step into fill their roles in the Minnesota film community.

I endorse Jamie Hook. He is an outsider who comes to Minnesota and can make a difference. Cowgil and Milgrom are starters, they have an eccentric, bold, and outrageous sense of egoism that is needed to strike out and found organizations like U Film Society and Oak Street Cinema. We love them for what they've done and for the unique personalities they bring as entrepreneurial founders. At times, the proprietary sense of founding an institution and the resentment toward new blood can cripple its future.

However, we are entering a new era and need new leaders. Minnesota can be very hard on outsiders. Everybody imagined that the job of Executive Director of Minnesota Film Arts could be the worse job anyone could possibly face, But Hook is the right man for the job. Hook needs the support of the Board of Directors and from the community. Jamie Hook uprooted his family to join our community.

I say, GIVE THE MAN A BREAK!

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