Friday, April 02, 2010

Al Milgrom - Man or Myth?

One of my favorite people was on the radio today: Al Milgrom, the feisty octogenarian who has been THE MAN as far as foreign film is concerned in the Minnesota area. For nearly 50 years he has promoted, booked and shown thousands of movies from all over the world- films which otherwise wouldn't have had a chance of being seen here in "Flyoverland". Most of the Icelandic films I've seen on screen and championed on this blog have come through Al. The 2010 Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival will open in a few weeks; the link has the full line-up of films. Even if you can't attend, take a peek- if only to see what a wonderful thing this is. Now multiply this by 28 years and you will get some sense of what one man with a meager budget and a staff of volunteers has done over the years; bringing world culture to the prairie in this enduring festival. This isn't some pre-packaged offering, Al personally picks most of the films and his taste is impeccable.

On the radio, the host referred to Al as "Legendary", but Al was quick to object: "I'd rather be a myth than a legend, then no one would have to believe that I was real."

Now, I know for a fact that Al is truly real, but sometimes I can scarcely believe it. When I see him at the screenings, still taking pleasure in the palpable excitement of the crowds, describing him as a legend or a myth isn't quite right. I think the word treasure is the most appropriate.

P.S. Oskar Jonasson's Reykjavik-Rotterdam will be showing!

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Nicole said...

When I interned at a gallery, over a decade ago, I got to help hang some of Al's work for a show. He was one of the coolest people I have ever met. Ah, the stories he would tell...

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