The Cedar Presents
FIRST PERSON PLURAL: Special Preview Screening
Friday April 12th, 2019 / Doors: 7:00 PM / Show: 8:00 PM / Discussion: 9:40 PM
$12 General Admission
This is a seated show. General Admission tickets are available online, by phone, Electric Fetus, and The Cedar during shows.
FIRST PERSON PLURAL
written and directed by Eric Tretbar
USA 94 min, drama, color+b/w
Like the story it tells, First Person Plural brought together actors, artists, composers and musicians from the Twin Cities’ Somali, film, theater and music communities. Please join us for this special preview screening, and a chance to discuss the film’s timely issues with the film’s artistic collaborators.
Starring Faysal Ahmed (Sicario 2, Captain Phillips) and Amanda Day (The Seeker, The Lumber Baron). With Barkhad Abdirahman (Fargo, A Stray), Mikey Johnson (Supermoto), writer Ahmed Ismail Yusuf (A Crack in The Sky, The Lion’s Binding Oath), filmmaker and poet Fathia Absie (The Lobby), Pearce Bunting (Boardwalk Empire) and Guthrie Theater great, Michelle O'Neill. With soundtrack music by Somali pop stars Nimco Jamaac and Nibo Hudon, Ethiopian superstar Gizachew Ligabaw, traditional songs by Abdi Salam and Fathia Absie, sitar by Mark Ilaud, and score by Helsinki composer Alex Freeman.
With empathy and humor, First Person Plural shows two families grappling with doubt and imperfection to discover their common family conflicts of love and faith. Created before our eyes by its film making characters, First Person Plural takes us inside the creative process—of Cinema, belief, and love—showing how the images we create and consume can bring understanding, but also destruction. With a cautionary twist, First Person Plural expresses hope and tolerance at a time when we need them most.
When Faysal and Bettina meet in a camera store, their painful Thanksgiving plans are pleasantly interrupted by love at first sight. They dive into a lively discussion of life, love and their personal filmmaking styles. Both children of clergy, they’re consumed by questions of doubt and faith in their family traditions, and in their common, personal religion - Cinema.
As the lovers' plans converge, so do their Thanksgiving film projects, revealing unexpected truths as they remove their camera masks and step in front of each other's lenses. In filming each other, they see themselves. But the closer they become, the more their families begin to intervene. Their little brothers are spying on them, angered at their worldly ways and interaction with perceived enemies. Faysal is angry to be judged by his little brother whose condemnations rekindle his own self-judgement. Bettina also judges herself harshly, still anguished over the family and church she left long ago.
Faysal invites Bettina to dinner at his parents’ apartment, and she accepts. Little does she know her family has tracked her down, her mother intent on reuniting her estranged children. Soon, the two families are thrown together for an impromptu meeting of cultures and rituals that will test their love and belief. In the end, it is Cinema itself that expresses hope--that a story of sad love might begin again and go a different way, a better way.
Director, Eric Tretbar, met a number of the cast working on Musa Syeed’s A Stray. Faysal Ahmed and Barkhad Abdirahman signed on to play the male lead and his younger brother, then helped develop the script, along with other Stray actors Ifrah Mansour and Ahmed Yusuf who plays The Imam. Tretbar discusses the project’s process:
“Political extremism was on the rise as we developed the script, and I asked myself how we could counter the demogogues’ grim and violent caricatures. If ‘cinema makes visible the invisible,’ as a Japanese cinema master said, it was time for some serious uncloaking! Time to reveal the truth—of each other, in each other, for each other. We began with two families so often portrayed as enemies—one Muslim, one Christian. But before the families meet, their oldest children fall in love at first sight, an undeniable bond even a demagogue can’t question. Looking through their cameras into each other’s eyes, we participate in the birth of their love. Throughout the film, characters reveal their intimate selves and realities, encouraging viewers to see themselves in people who might at first look unfamiliar.”
“First Person Plural also documents the ever-changing realities of its setting. Physically, the action takes place in familiar Twin Cities locations, some of which are already gone, such as Intercontinental Video. Culturally, the story’s two families represent a new Minnesota that, in the last decade, has become home to the largest Somali community in North America. Set in this increasingly international Twin Cities, First Person Plural points beyond the Midwest toward the many conflicts now threatening to take shape around the world. While posing questions about interfaith understanding, gun control and the exploitation of vulnerable youth, it’s also a story of happy love that shows that love can conquer all. But there’s sad love, too, reminding us that love is fragile, and needs our care and courage.”
“Aesthetically, this project allowed us to explore the changing language of Cinema in a way central to creating empathy for its characters. The title, First Person Plural, alludes to the film’s visual and emotional strategy to create such empathy. As it moves from character to character, the film collects individual first-person points of view to build a plural portrait of each family, moving from ‘I’ to ‘We’. The lovers, their brothers and family members each use a specific image device that identifies them to viewers and shows not only what they see but how.”
“Through the images of these families and their film-making children, First Person Plural brings viewers inside the conflicts of desire and belief common to all families. What it ultimately expresses are the many paradoxes of love.”