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John Lamb, Published March 04 2012

Picks of the flicks: We pick the 10 best events of this week’s Fargo Film Festival

FARGO – The Fargo Film Festival packs a lot into five days – almost too much to take in, really.

And while the annual spring festival will feature dozens of films and more than a few actors you’ll recognize from their various film and TV credits, the list of things to do at the festival can be a bit intimidating.

With the idea of making your life a little easier, we’ve highlighted 10 film festival events we think will be worth your time. They’re all happening at the Fargo Theatre, unless otherwise noted. And if you’d like to see what else the festival has to offer, see the full schedule online at www.fargofilmfestival.org.

Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes

8 p.m. Tuesday

Writer/director/actor Kevin Smith returns to town for another evening discussion, this time with his vocal on-screen partner, Jason Mewes. The pair will kick off the festival with this appearance, which will also serve as a recording opportunity for their popular podcast series.

Read more about Mewes as he talks about his two decades of work with Smith in Tuesday’s Forum.

‘The Power of Two’

10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday

It may be the Fargo Film Festival, but Moorhead is well-represented. Producer Andrew Byrnes, a Moorhead native, returns with this feature documentary about twins Anabel Stenzel and Isabel Stenzel Byrnes (the latter being Byrnes’ wife) who survived a double lung transplant in order to fight the fatal genetic disease cystic fibrosis. The sisters have not only survived, but thrived.

‘Age of Champions’

9:15 p.m. Wednesday and 3:15 p.m. Saturday

Director Christopher Rufo earned the festival’s Best Documentary Feature and The Bill Snyder Award for the touching and comic look at older athletes at the National Senior Games, including a 100-year-old tennis champ. If that doesn’t inspire you, wait until you see the 86-year-old pole vaulter.

‘Silver Tongues’

3:30 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday

This drama about a couple trying to put together a mystery got an honorable mention, but it also created a lot of buzz from the judges.

Don Hertzfeldt

7 p.m. Thursday

The Oscar-nominated animator earned the Fargo Film Festival’s Best Animation award for “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.” The short film will be screened with the previous two installments of the “Everything Will be OK” trilogy, about a stick figure named Bill who struggles with a mental disorder. Hertzfeldt’s stories and illustrations both seem simple at first but actually reveal more depth. The Austin, Texas,-based artist talks about the project and his work. “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” will be shown again Saturday at 1:35 p.m.

1st Annual Bunny Lebowski Pro-Am Invitational

9:30 p.m. Thursday

Take a break from the theater and get your bowl on at All Star Bowl, 309 17th St. N., Moorhead, to celebrate “The Big Lebowski.” There have been some good movies about bowling, but none with the range of characters like the Coen brothers’ “Lebowski.” Dress like your favorite for the costume contest, quote lines in the trivia challenge or just bowl frames while drinking White Russians. Tickets are $10 per person and available at the Fargo Theatre. Ticket price includes shoe rental and bowling. The event is for all ages.

Two Minute Movie Contest

9:30 p.m. Friday

Want to see what creative filmmakers do with a short amount of screen time? Check out the Two-Minute Movie Contest on Friday night. Good things don’t always take a lot of time. Or money – admission is only $2. The winner will be shown Saturday evening.

‘Don’t Be Nervous’

1:35 p.m. Saturday

Peter Gulsvig, another Moorhead native, takes center stage when his animated short, “Don’t be Nervous,” gets screened. It may only be four minutes long, but it’s huge for the New Yorker, who is returning for his first showing at the festival.

Oscar-nominated movies

Saturday

The festival has three films that were also nominated for Academy Awards, and all three play Saturday night, starting off with the animated short “A Morning Stroll” at 7:35 p.m. The festival winner of the Best Documentary Short, “Incident in New Baghdad,” U.S. Army Specialist Ethan McCord’s harrowing re-telling of the July 2007 slayings of two journalists and a number of other civilians by U.S. attack helicopters, follows at 8:05. The narrative short “Time Freak,” about the neurotic creator of a time machine who gets lost in time, screens at 8:45.

Matt Walsh and Rich Sommer

Saturday

Comic actor Matt Walsh makes two big appearances Saturday. First he screens “High Road,” which he made with Fargo-based producers Northern Lights Films, at 4 p.m. Saturday. Walsh sums up the comedy feature as “A road movie with the funniest people in the world you can imagine.” Those actors include Ed Helms, Rob Riggle, Kyle Gass, Lizzy Caplan and Joe Lo Truglio, who joins Walsh at the screening. The two take the stage at the end of the night for the game Celebrity, hosted by Concordia alum and “Mad Men” star Rich Sommer. Walsh and Lo Truglio will pull teammates from the crowd for a challenge “where knowing fame wins the game.” The contest starts at 9:15 and goes “far too long,” Walsh says with a laugh.

If you go

What: Fargo Film Festival

When: Tuesday-Saturday

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway

Info: Tickets range from $2 for the Two-Minute Movie Contest, $6 for a morning or afternoon pass, to $125 for an all-access festival pass. (701) 239-8385.

Tickets for Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are separate from festival admission at $35 or $45. (866) 300-8300.