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Remembering Cinephile Al Milgrom, 1922-2020

MOVIE CORNER

By HOWARD MCQUITTER II

Al Milgrom was a milestone for film in Minnesota, namely so-called art house films and foreign films. He established the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival in 1981 held every April. The Festival draws an amazing 50,000 or more, cur- rently centered at St. Anthony Main Theatre. Nobody fostered films the way he did leaving no doubt he was a true cinephile. Back in 1962, Mr. Milgrom founded the Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Society at the University of Minnesota where he started a curriculum for teaching film cinema. It was not long before he created the Rivertown Film Festival in Stillwater that in time would become the acclaimed Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

I considered him a mentor and an inspiration as a film critic. He loved conversation and many times I would see him mingling among the crowds at the MSP Film Festival and around St. Anthony Main. He didn’t let his age get in the way of moving around dialoguing with patrons, students, thespians, and directors. Milgrom was instrumental in bringing famous directors such as Werner Herzog (Cobra Verde, 1988), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, 1959), and Miles Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975) to town. When funding was short he managed to find a way to support local festivals.

“It’s a very difficult job to try to wrap up 98 years of life,” Graeme Stout said about Milgrom. Stout is currently Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Studies in Cinema and Media Culture Department at the University of Minnesota.

Milgrom made films of his own, usually documentaries, such as The Dinkytown Uprising (2015), Singin’ in the Grain (2015), and a full-length film in the Soviet Union (now Russia) in 1959.

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