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How does a scrappy little film festival become a regional tradition in less than a decade?

The seven-year-old Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF), an annual October gala in St. Louis Park’s Showplace Icon multiplex, expects about 15,000 attendees over the next 11 days. Executive Director Jatin Setia credits the success to innovative programming, a solid grasp on local film lovers’ tastes and a certain amount of gambler’s luck.

“It’s a roll of the dice because you never know what you’re going to end up getting from those big studios,” he said.

Those star-filled major releases are some of the event’s key offerings, alongside a diverse lineup of shorts, indie discoveries, fright films and social documentaries. Showing upcoming films benefits the studios by creating word-of-mouth buzz among the community’s opinion leaders — but only if the films fit into precisely timed marketing plans.

So far, the dice have rolled in TCFF’s favor, debuting films including “Room,” “Brooklyn” and “The Imitation Game” before theatrical release and Academy Awards acclaim.

“They have a very good group of choices” during the 11-day run, said longtime attendee Nan Loucks of St. Paul, a senior court clerk in the city’s criminal division. “I have come to see lots of types of films I might not have seen otherwise because they helped expand beyond seeing mainstream movies.”

Read the full post in the Star Tribune here