This year, the Twin Cities Film Fest kicked off eight days of screening and streaming with sold-out in-person screenings at the ShowPlace ICON Theater in St. Louis Park, featuring special guests and programming highlighting the “Changemakers” of the festival. TCFF 2022 Opening Night Kicked Off With Climate Change Documentary Overheated follow-up to the social justice drama’s Twin Cities debut at a major studio Until; meanwhile in a second theater my policeman made its debut. Both Overheated and Until were attended by special guest speakers who touched on the issues raised by these films, and both were sure to engage their viewers with their passion and power.
Overheated (dir. Yassa Khan, 2022)
The 2022 iteration of TCFF opened with a free screening of Overheated, a climate change documentary directed by Yassa Khan and the first of approximately 80 in-person events scheduled at the West End ShowPlace ICON theatres.
Overheated Features Billie Eilish, Finneas, their mother Maggie Baird (she and Eilish are two of the film’s executive producers) and a host of influencers, personalities and indigenous people on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Bringing together voices from music, fashion, art and activism across the globe, the film speaks directly to climate anxiety – a real and palpable condition felt by many young people facing threats to their home, their culture and their livelihoods.
Khan’s approach in Overheated is fast and intensely visual and auditory. It’s not your data-driven approach to old-school charts and graphs, but rather one that taps into the passion of its speakers, illustrating their words with bold, heavily stylized visuals alongside the constant pulsation of the haunting score by Charlie Smith. Not all viewers will need to have every word of their speakers’ utterances illustrated with visuals (e.g. Baird noting that an instance was “eye opening” is accompanied by a visual of an eye , which opens), but the film’s pacing and style are aimed squarely at the young viewers it hopes to persuade into acting. At the end of the day, Overheated’s message is a message of hope, aimed at galvanizing change in response to our planet’s crisis.
After the film, Baird, star influencer Tori Tsui and several others addressed the assembled TCFF crowd directly. Both spoke passionately about the film’s bold use of style and fashion to speak to its audience and Tsui in particular about the value of story in turning climate anxiety into climate activism. Baird, alongside nationally acclaimed artist and local philanthropist Stephanie Dillon, is the recipient of the 2022 TCFF Changemaker Award in part for her work on Overheated and in part for his work with his non-profit organization Support and foodthe official TCFF Changemaker partner.
Overheated is actually available to watch on YouTube.
Until (dir. Chinonye Chukwu, 2022)
Following the screening of Overheated was the start of Twin Cities from the mighty Until, the story of Grandma Till Mobley seeking justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett, who was the victim of a heinous lynching while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. For this powerful and moving film, the house was packed and audiences were very attentive to Danielle Deadwyler’s performance as the grieving mother who turns her trauma into action.
Historical dramas and period pieces are never really just about the past; they are almost always about the present. It is only this year that the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act passed by Congress, aGenerations and nearly seven decades later, black men can still find themselves the target of white militias seeking to turn their racism into violence. Meanwhile, across the states, dozens of legislative bodies have sought to block schools from teaching stories like Grandma and Emmett Till. One might reasonably wonder how it is that the story of the Tills took so long to reach the screen. Besides his mention in Ava DuVernay’s captivating short film August 28: A day in the life of a people, it’s a vital and traumatic story of American racial injustice that has never been seen on screen.
Chinonye Chukwu’s film focuses less on the violent murder of charismatic youngster Emmett (Jalyn Hall) and more on the trauma suffered by his mother Mamie, who, after witnessing the mutilated corpse of her son, chooses an open-air funeral. open to show the public the violence. of the attack on his son. As Granny, Deadwyler delivers a performance second to none, channeling every conceivable ounce of grief, grief, rage and conviction as she bravely journeys from her Chicago home to the site of her son’s murder in Mississippi, where her killers are tried.
While Chukwu is quick to show the aftermath of Emmett’s lynching (confronting viewers with the ravages of the young boy’s corpse), the focus in Until relies almost entirely on Grandma’s grief and conviction. Until is a motherly melodrama — I don’t use that word pejoratively at all — of the highest order, carefully expressing a mother’s love and passion. I wish it was mandatory for all high school students in America. My colleague Don Shanahan has already provided Film Obsessive readers with a full review of Until; and I will add that Bobby Bukowski’s cinematography is impeccable, capturing Deadwyler’s emotions and performance with nuance and care. But so does almost every aspect of the film, except perhaps for a brief slowdown as the trial of Emmett’s murderers nears.
After the film, Emmett Till Legacy Foundation board members and Till family descendants Deborah and Teri Watts spoke to the audience about their work to enact laws and pursue justice. Not only were Emmett’s killers acquitted of their crime, but they were paid for a magazine interview in which they confessed and lived their entire lives as free men. the salesman who falsely accused Emmett was never charged. The two spoke about their efforts to seek justice and their own experience watching the film as they both received the TCFF Empower Award to a standing ovation.
Until is a film to remember, but its message is clear: we must transform mourning into action, injustice into justice. Knowing the history is necessary, but not sufficient. Change can only happen when people turn their passions into action. It’s a message made clear by both the opening documentary Overheated and the movie Until– and a theme of the festival to continue over its duration.