I saw nine films over four days at Southeast Michigan's annual Cinetopia film festival, beating my record of eight last year. While I enjoyed many of movies, the one I truly loved was opening night’s Eighth Grade.
The film follows 13-year-old Kayla during her final week of middle school as she tries to overcome her classmate’s perception of her as shy. The film won the Grand Jury Prize for Drama at Sundance and is Bo Burnham’s directorial debut. If you recognize that name, it may be from Burnham’s early 2000s YouTube videos, successful comedy specials, or supporting roles in recent films including The Big Sick and Rough Night.
Cinetopia's website states that its film festival, which features acclaimed movies from Sundance, Cannes, and more, was "created for the people of southeastern Michigan."
That's cool, but for our Pulp preview, we're keeping it strictly provincial and have highlighted films playing in Ann Arbor at the Michigan and State theaters. (Click here for the full Cinetopia schedule.)
We've also embedded the fifth episode of the Michigan Theater and AADL podcast Behind the Marquee, which features hosts Nick, Caitlin, and Brian talking about all things Cinetopia, including some of their favorite films arriving this year.
Get out your calendars and plan your May 31 to June 10 cinematic experiences.
“Trust me when I tell you this isn’t a white savior story. This is a white nightmare story.”
If I were a moth, the story of white men reckoning with race in America would singe my wings every time. With that in mind, I was not disappointed when I went to see Travis Wilkerson’s Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? on March 24 as part of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. In fact, there are about eight pieces I could write about this film, which was one of the 10 features in competition at the year's fest and ended up winning the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film.
“The diaspora is a cultural continuum. An ever-evolving consideration of Blackness is its vehicle.”
--Ashley Stull Meyers
The United Re: Public of the African Diaspora Television (URe:Ad TV) special program at the Ann Arbor Film Festival was an experience.
URe:AD TV is a network of creators who make print and audiovisual work by and for the African diaspora. Curated by Shani Peters and Sharita Towne, the works grapple with the meaning(s) of black representation. By "grapple," it could be said that these works record meaning, and make meaning.
The first time that I really thought about the African diaspora was in college. During a Caribbean literature class, the concept of diaspora was ever present. Despite having taken several American history classes, considering the Caribbean diaspora is what led me to attempt to understand myself as a part of the African diaspora.
Ephraim Asili’s Diaspora Suite -- shown March 22 at the Michigan Theater as part of the Ann Arbor Film Festival -- presented an excellent opportunity to examine someone else’s take on the topic. This collection of five films explores the interaction of past, present, and place it relates to the African diaspora. The films were shot in a variety of locations, among them Ethiopia, Harlem, Ghana, Philadelphia, Brazil, and Detroit.
The best thing a film about languages can do is let the speakers speak for themselves.
Those Who Come, Will Hear, a Canadian documentary that shines a spotlight on several indigenous languages of Quebec, not only gives voice to languages that are endangered (such as Innu-aimun and Inuttitut) but also deftly illustrates how language is so tightly woven to culture and tradition. (The film is one of the 10 features in competition at this year's Ann Arbor Film Festival.)
Vicki Honeyman knows a thing or two about film.
As executive director of the Ann Arbor Film Fest from 1988-2002, Honeyman nurtured and expanded the event by acquiring sponsorships, personally screening films for the festival, and much more.
Honeyman is now the owner of the hand-crafted jewelry store Heavenly Metal at 208 N. Fourth Ave. in Kerrytown, but she's been invited to use her cinematic curatorial skills once again for AAFF's 56th anniversary, March 20-25. "Vick’s Picks," shown March 24 at 9:15 in the Michigan Theater, features 13 films from Honeyman's 15-year tenure as AAFF's leader.
We chatted with Honeyman at Heavenly Metal about her picks for this year's AAFF.
If you don't yet know the work of Yvonne Rainer, after the 56th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, you most certainly will.
The post-modern dance maverick and her work will be highlighted during AAFF, which runs Tuesday, March 20 to Sunday, March 25. Rainer, who is known for her provocative style of dance and fragmented narrative style of film, began her career in the 1960s as a founder of the Judson Dance Theater. She then transitioned to film-making in the mid-'70s. After making seven experimental feature-length films, Rainer returned to choreography in 2000 when she choreographed After Many A Summer Dies a Swan for the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation. Currently, Rainer works with a troupe of talented people who take her dance to Europe and across the United States.
Rainer will present her essay-turned-lecture "A Truncated History of the Universe for Dummies: A Rant Dance" at the Michigan Theater on March 22 at 5:10 p.m. as part of the Penny Stamps Speakers series. (The documentary Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer screened at UMMA on March 7.)
On March 23 at 7 pm, Rainer's sixth feature film, Privilege, will be shown at the Michigan Theater screening room. Privilege is a pioneering take on menopause and was called her "most accessible film" by the Village Voice. Five Easy Pieces, her collection of short films made 1966-1969, screens Saturday, March 24, 4 pm at the Michigan Theater.
We chatted with Rainer about Privilege, Five Easy Pieces, filmmaking, and dance.
From Feb. 5 to April 16, the Michigan and State Theaters will be under the blade. Many blades, actually, as two film series exploring Japan’s historic warrior class will take over the screens.
Save for Kenji Mizoguchi's The 47 Ronin, all the films in the Enter the Samurai series at the Michigan Theater were written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, the most celebrated moviemaker in Japanese history. Every film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, screened at the State, is based on the epic manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
Enter the Samurai will occur weekly on Mondays except for March 26. Skipping a week gives viewers' sword scars a chance to heel since the Lone Wolf and Cub series will screen nightly between March 20-25. That’s hella consecutive days of samurai swords slicing up the cinema.
All 17 movies in both series are presented in Japanese with English subtitles. Written previews of each film are below courtesy of the Michigan and State, along with trailers and a link to the Samurai cinema in AADL's collection.
The Korean Cinema Now festival, sponsored by the Nam Center for Korean Studies, returns for its annual occupancy in the Michigan Theater’s 200-seat Screening Room theater. This year’s screenings are two Saturdays per month at 1 pm from Jan. 20 through April 21.
South Korea is known for its robust film industry, and the eight feature-length movies being shown at the Michigan Theater represent many high points from the peninsula's 2016-2017 movie scene.
But the best part of Korean Cinema Now? It's free.
Check out the trailers, dates, and synopses below: