A guide to the 2017 Cinetopia Film Festival

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Though most of us don’t sense a strong link between the auto and film industries, Michigan Theater executive director and CEO Russ Collins pointed out that the two essentially grew up together.

“In 1922, when Hollywood was deciding whether it would be based in New York or California, Ford Motor Company became one of the largest distributors of movies of anywhere in the world,” said Collins, at a recent press conference for the sixth annual Cinetopia Film Festival, which happens June 1-11 in various Ann Arbor and Detroit locales.

“Ford distributed so many educational films and newsreels that Detroit was second only to Hollywood in terms of the amount of film shot and processed. So it’s an art form that Detroit has long held dear," Collins said, "and it’s deeply built into this community, which is why we’re so happy to bring the world’s cinema passion back here to Detroit.”

Motion Lights: UMMA's "Moving Image: Performance"

FILM & VIDEO VISUAL ART

Presence

Universal Everything, Presence 4; 2013, two-channel video, stereo sound; running time 2 minutes; edition 1/6. Courtesy of Borusan Contemporary.

The art of motion is currently on display in the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s spirited Moving Images: Performance.

The second of UMMA's three presentations drawn from Istanbul, Turkey's Borusan Contemporary museum, Moving Images: Performance illustrates the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) relationship of performance and moving-image media that’s been fostered by the advent of the portable video camera.

The exhibit complements the concurrent UMMA installation Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Wavefunction, Subsculpture 9, which is a subject we’ll get to in a forthcoming review. But for the time being, the four short videos in this exhibit stand as prime examples of experimental filmmaking.

A journey through the 2017 Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival

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Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival

Some of the selections from this year's Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival.

The 16th annual Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival opens Sunday, May 7, and runs through Thursday, May 11. Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor, planning for the five-day festival began in November 2016.

“We have a committee of 23 individuals who help decide on the films,” said Karen Freedland, the JCC’s cultural arts director and festival coordinator. “We start with a list of over 95 titles and whittle it down to 40 films we think look the strongest. From there we try to get from the distributors as many of those 40 films to screen, and we narrow it down to the 13 we have chosen.”

Save for one, the films in this year’s festival are very recent, most from 2016. "We try to get the most current releases available and that sets us apart from some other festivals who will show films that we had shown the year before," Freedland said. "We are lucky that we work with Brian Hunter from the Michigan Theater. He helps us source out some of the latest films that are geared for a Jewish film festival.”

Rave On: FoolMoon 2017 in moving pictures

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It's hard to believe FoolMoon 2017 took place a few weeks ago; we're still glowing from the April 7 event and it has nothing to do with the neon paint we still can't get off our bodies.

To keep the FoolMoon vibes illuminated a bit longer, our talented photographer and videographer Tom Smith combined some images from the event with the techno track "bland western charm" from the album chromedecay tracks pt. 2: 2001-2005 by Bill Van Loo. (The Ypsilanti-based Van Loo also did one of our Tools Crew Live performances; check out the videos here.)

As the FoolMoon afterglow begins to fade, keep this page bookmarked for emergency illumination.


Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.

Terence Davies' film "A Quiet Passion" covers the life of poet Emily Dickinson

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At first listen, Terence Davies' voice seemingly betrays his 71 years. Even with his charming British accent, the Englishman sounds gravelly, like he can't get as much air into his lungs as he might like. But then it takes about 30 seconds of hearing his words to understand age might not explain this condition as well as a literally breathless enthusiasm for whatever topic he's discussing.

I spoke with Davies about his latest film, A Quiet Passion, a biopic about Emily Dickinson that details her complicated family relationships, her unconventional religious beliefs, and her own self-esteem issues in order to celebrate a unique life and illuminate her poetry. The film opens at the Michigan Theater on Friday, April 21.

Michigan native and "Narcos" co-creator Doug Miro talks about the art of screenwriting

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Doug Miro, Narcos

Michigan native Doug Miro is more than happy to come home to talk about his hit Netflix series, Narcos.

When I talked to him on the phone recently, Michigan native Doug Miro was driving around Bogotá, Colombia, looking for a good coffee shop. He was shooting a few episodes for season three of the Netflix show Narcos, which he and collaborator Carlo Bernard created along with their partner and showrunner Eric Newman. Miro and Bernard, along with a team of writers, pen the scripts, and the two take turns filming episodes in Colombia and California.

Miro and Bernard have worked together for years now, writing screenplays for Steven Spielberg, Harvey Weinstein, and Jerry Bruckheimer, scripting films such as Prince of Persia (which starred Jake Gyllenhaal), The Wall (starring Matt Damon), Tintin, The Uninvited, and the television series Narcos, which Miro describes as more of a “20-hour movie."

Miro will give a free talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) on Wednesday, April 19, at 7 pm. The event is co-presented by the MOCAD and the University of Michigan's Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series.

The Great Eight: Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Michigan Theater

FILM & VIDEO REVIEW

It’s been over 20 years since the Banff Mountain Film Festival launched its “world tour,” bringing various films from the competition to over 40 countries and hundreds of cities around the world. Ann Arbor has been lucky enough to be a stop on the tour for more than a decade.

The film festival, which takes place at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada each fall, features short films and documentaries about outdoor recreation of all sorts. Eight of the best films from the festival were shown at the Michigan Theater this past Tuesday evening.

This year’s selections offered a refreshing dose of unusual sports and unique humor. The festival opened with Metronomic, a 5-minute film from France about a team of “flying musicians.” The stuntmen swing off of tight-ropes and parachute off of cliffs, all while playing their respective instruments. Most amazing was the drummer, Freddy Montigny, who flew with his entire drum set.

Next was a film about canine sports, Dog Power, that covered much more than dog sledding. Focusing on the lasting relationships that form between athletes and their dogs in dog-powered sports, the film showed canicross (running with dogs), bikjoring (biking with dogs), skijoring (skiing behind a team of dogs), and various distances and team sizes of sled-dog racing. It was fascinating to learn about the breeding and care that goes into making dogs into athletes. One racer emphasized that the dogs are just as important a part of the team as the human. Banff Film Festival’s films often focus on skiing and snowboarding, climbing or mountain biking, so it was exciting and heartwarming to see a film like Dog Power.

Another feel-good film from the show was Four Mums in a Boat, the amazing story of four middle-aged British mothers who decide to compete in a race rowing a boat across the Atlantic Ocean. They all met one another while dropping their kids off at school, and took up rowing on the local river. After learning about the 3,000-mile race across the Atlantic, one of the mothers convinced the other three to sign up for it with her. The film showcases the trials and tribulations that the women undergo as they spend almost 70 days (20 more than planned) rowing across the ocean. From a loss of power (meaning they had to spend 10 hours a day hand-pumping ocean water through a filter to make it potable) and a broken rudder to rowing into Hurricane Alex, the women demonstrate admirable strength, endurance, and determination, and a great deal of humor.

Young Guns is a 30-minute film about two young rock climbers, was also a crowd-favorite. Kai Lightner was 15 years old when the film was made and Ashima Shiraishi was just 14. The two are gaining worldwide notoriety as the film opens, winning national championships and beating climbers much older than them. Friends both at the climbing gym and outside of it, they spend their spring break traveling together with their families to Norway, where extra challenging rocks put their skills to the test. Their quiet maturity and amazing climbing skills had the audience gasping with delight, especially when Shiraishi becomes both the youngest person ever and the first woman to climb a V15 boulder in Japan at the film’s conclusion.

Other films shown on Tuesday were Being Hear, a brief film about the importance of listening to nature, The Perfect Flight, a five-minute film about falconry, The Super Salmon, about the fight by many Alaskans to protect the Susitna River from being dammed, and Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out, a charming, amusing film about one man’s day mountain biking through rural Ireland. Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is locally sponsored by U-M’s Recreational Sports association, Moosejaw, and Bivouac, is a special treat each year. The films offer viewers the chance to see aspects of outdoor sports and life that often aren’t captured at the Olympics or other major televised sporting events, and the unique perspective that each filmmaker brings to his or her work casts each movie in a different emotional light. This year’s distinctiveness, with its focus on sports like falconry, rowing, and canicross, made for an extra special experience. Luckily for anyone who missed the festival -- or for anyone who is excited to see more outdoor films -- Banff Mountain Film Festival will be back in 2018.


Elizabeth Pearce is a Library Technician at the Ann Arbor District Library.


The Banff Mountain Film Festival world tour stops in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater every April.

Tusk Talk: Catching up with the Bristle Mammoth at U-M Museum of Natural History

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There was a lot of media coverage on the Bristle Mammoth when its remains were found on Lima Township farm in October 2015 and when the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History opened its exhibit in November 2016. But we were curious if there were any developments since the hoopla died down -- plus, we had a few questions of our own -- so we talked to Dr. Daniel Fisher, who led the excavation and heads the research team. Check out our interview in the video above.

More videos about the mammoth excavation:

All the Way In: Diving into the Ann Arbor Film Festival for the first time

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hashtag by Sherlonya Turner

Confession: Despite living in the greater Ann Arbor area for nearly 20 years, I have never attended any part of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

The poster caught my attention. I’m a sucker for bright colors.

Seduced by the orange, pink, and yellow in this year's AAFF poster, I thought, "Wouldn’t it be funny if I watched as many episodes of Dallas as I can before the film festival and then went to the screening of Hotel Dallas?," which documents Romania's strange fascination with the TV show that ran from 1978 to 1991.

An experience was born, but instead of diving into Dallas, I decided to steep myself in the Ann Arbor Film Festival experience.

First, I had to learn about the thing, so I did some light research on the festival’s founder, George Manupelli. I stumbled upon a memorial blog for him and read the whole thing click-after-click on my phone. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to create for myself the experience that this man would have appreciated.

I like to imagine that he’d approve of my plan to jump right in.

AAFF 2017 | A Guide to the 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival

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When the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) put together the printed edition of its 2017 program, the organization did it the usual way: listing the dates and the movies underneath. Throw in the "Off the Screen" events and after parties, et voila: the program calendar for the 55th edition of this Ann Arbor mainstay.

But when AAFF was putting together its website, the staff noticed a theme -- or several.

"We did set the [film] programs first," said Executive Director Leslie Raymond to Pulp in this recent interview. "Later when we looked back at them, we recognized some recurring themes and some things people would be interested in that we could pull together -- a few different film programs. People have told us that it's great and it can really help them to figure out what they want to do at the festival."

It made a lot of sense to us, too. Film festivals often group their movies by themes, which helps viewers hone in on their primary interests rather than root through a calendar to see what movies match their tastes on a specific day.

With Raymond's guidance, we identified the 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival's major film tracks as listed on its website, reviewed the primary movies or collections within them, and previewed the rest of the screenings or events in the series. Below is a list of our theme-based coverage for AAFF 2017: