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Monday, April 03, 2006

MSPIFF: AL FRANKEN'S GOD SPOKE


AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE will open the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film festival on April 20. The normally intensive international festival will take on a decidedly local flavor this year due to radical cutbacks in administration and lack of scheduling from international festivals.

Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker, the makers of THE WAR ROOM and START-UP.COM turn their cinema verite cameras on the burgeoning political career of Minnesota's own comedian turned bull-dog Al Franken. Shot over the course of two years, the film follows the former SNL writer/producer turned hard-hitting commentarist from his highly publicized (and well-timed) feud with Bill O’Reilly over Franken’s best selling book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” to his tireless campaign against George Bush in the 2004 Presidential election.

“I take what they say and use it against them. What I do is jujitsu.” Al Franken describes his style of counter-punch politics.

From Franken's USO tour in Iraq, to the studios of liberal radio network Air America and on the campaign trail, filmmakers Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus were granted entre to one of the most effective political satirists of our time. Minnesotan's will recognize documentary footage shot in Minnesota, and Franken will make an appearance on the opening night of the MSPIFF.

Franken fearlessly confronts pundits and politicians, blurring boundaries between political satire and impassioned citizenry. Featuring a host of beltway big mouths including Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, Al Gore, John Kerry, Robert Kennedy Jr., Sean Hannity, William Safire, Karen Hughes and Henry Kissinger, the film is an hilarious look behind the front lines of the media wars during the most contentious election in recent history.

But ultimately, the film is a personal drama of transformation, as Al Franken leaves comedy behind and moves from his seat in the sidelines to become a contender inside the political ring. And it maybe a inside look at Franken's future aspirations that may include a run at one of his most sought after foes -- Senator Norm Coleman -- who first slighted Franken's friend Paul Wellstone and then went onto replace the Senator after the tragic air crash that killed him, Sheila Wellstone and their daughter Marsha.

In years past MSFIPP has had a strong relationship with the Norwegian consulate and northern European countries and audiences can expect to continue to see international films with a Scandinavian flavor. The festival is scheduled to close with the Minnesota-made Ali Selim's SWEET LAND based on Will Weaver's novel about a Norwegian mail order bride who took root in Minnesota's northwestern wheat fields.

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