Me, the "Other" is a documentary that explores the ways race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender have impacted 12 Washtenaw County college students. The film makes its world premiere on Monday, Jan. 15, at the Michigan Theater.
"'Otherness' is never one thing" is the doc's guiding light as the filmmakers allow the students to tell their disparate tales in full so viewers can understand and appreciate their humanity. “I’ve come to see our differences in beauty like different flowers in one garden," said Shahrzad Mirafzali, co-producer of Me, the "Other" and University of Michigan School of Dentistry faculty member.
The list below is a collection of books, music, movies, and more that made an impression on our eyes and ears in 2017.
The March 17, 1942, edition of The Ann Arbor News was mental about the State. The paper’s entire second section was dedicated to the first movie theater to open in Ann Arbor since the Michigan Theater flung open its doors Jan. 5, 1928. “ABLAZE WITH RADIANT BEAUTY” trumpeted the all-caps headline above a glowing black-and-white photo of the State Theatre’s gorgeous marquee. At least 18 stories were published about the State (“New Local Theater Most Modern Found in Michigan”), its owners (“Butterfield Theaters, Inc. Now Operating 114 Houses”), and other film-related tales, including “Opening Of New Theater Revives Memories Here Of Student Riot In 1908,” which destroyed Ann Arbor’s original movie house, The Star. And the section was filled with congratulatory advertising, including one headlined “The New Pride of Ann Arbor,” purchased by the George W. Auch Co., the State Theatre’s general contractor, though 35 different firms worked on the build. That edition of the newspaper was a full-on love letter to the State Theatre, and The Michigan Daily was similarly smitten, dedicating six pages to movie-house-related stories. There’s akin ardor in today’s digital-media realm about the venerated movie house’s latest reinvention, which opens its doors to members on Friday, Dec. 8 and to the public on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Michigan native and U-M grad Councilman Jamm -- nee Jon Glaser -- sat down with us to discuss his television and comedy career on Nov. 26 at AADL's downtown branch. He created, starred in, and co-wrote the TV shows Neon Joe Werewolf Hunter, Jon Glaser Loves Gear, and Delocated. He is perhaps best known as the aforementioned Councilman Jamm on Parks and Recreation and and Laird on HBO's Girls. Other TV credits include Inside Amy Schumer, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Wonder Showzen.
When Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox walked out onto the Rackham stage, my immediate thought is that she is even more beautiful in person than on screen or in photos, and I don’t exactly understand how this is possible. She looks as though the sun is shining directly on her. I think maybe this is what actually mastering the art of highlighting looks like, but I’m also sure I could put on all the makeup in the world and I would still never look like that.
I’d like to say that as soon as she started speaking, all such frivolous thoughts left my head, but frankly, that would be a lie. I did settle in with the rest of the sold-out crowd that has come to see her as the keynote speaker on Nov. 15 for the 2017 CEW Spectrum of Advocacy & Activism Symposium put on by the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan, and for the next hour and a half, listened to a great (if slightly scattered) talk that encompassed gender and race theory, her life story, and how the Ann Arbor community should respond should white supremacist Richard Spencer come to campus.
Cox opened her speech with an emotional acknowledgment of the standing ovation she was met with when she walked out on stage: "To see a whole room of people standing, applauding for a black transgender woman? I don't know, it still feels revolutionary." And it did to me, too, to see a whole room of people react to her speech as though they were in church, clapping and snapping along to her powerful words. The crowd was extremely diverse and I was moved to see so many folks of all ages, races, and genders listen so intently to Cox without questioning her right to speak.
Cox titled her talk “Ain’t I a Woman,” after Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech at the Women’s Rights Convention. White Americans have manipulated, exploited, and questioned the womanhood of black women since the day our country was founded, and now cis Americans do the same to trans women. Cox described how she, like Sojourner Truth before her, has been told that she isn’t really a woman, then executes a perfect hair flip and asked, “And ain’t I a woman?” The crowd went wild. The applause kept coming as Cox seamlessly transitioned from bell hooks to Cornel West to Judith Butler. I was trying to keep a list of every academic she mentioned and I wrote so fast that my hand cramped. I also had to ask my seatmate to borrow extra paper.
In recounting her life’s story, Cox told one particularly disturbing tale of her third-grade year, in which her teacher warned her mother that if she didn’t act soon, Cox would “end up in New Orleans wearing a dress.” Following this, Cox was forced to see a therapist who suggested injecting her prepubescent body with testosterone to make her more masculine. Luckily for Cox, her mother rejected this proposal, but that didn’t stop her childhood from being riddled with bullying, a church that branded her a sinner, and a suicide attempt at only 11 years old. Cox said she was lucky to get an excellent education and escape the violence of her youth. This is not, however, the experience of most trans women of color, a point that Cox was quick to make. She reminded the audience that 2017 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, and trans women of color are hit the hardest by this violence.
Despite this upsetting truth, Cox seemed genuinely hopeful about the future. She argued for bringing people into conversations rather than calling them out. Cox truly seems to believe in finding the humanity in everyone, although when asked about Richard Spencer’s possible visit to the University of Michigan campus, she was clear that certain beliefs and behaviors couldn't be tolerated. She stated that her current focus is on voting rights and working against gerrymandering. She implored the audience to “vote, vote, vote,” and she left us with the advice, “Stay woke and stay strong!” At that, the crowd rose as one to clap. Cox did one more hair flip, then turned and walked off stage, leaving behind some of the sunshine that she brought in.
A (partial) list of the scholars, artists, and activists Cox referenced in her speech:
Simone de Beauvoir
Evelyn Hollenshead is a Youth Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.
Casablanca is 75 years old.
I was invited to see the film at Saline's extra fancy Emagine movie theater, with its leather recliners and cafeteria-style concessions. Casablanca is a beloved favorite of the person who invited me, and despite watching it numerous times, he was looking forward to seeing the film on the big screen.
I, on the other hand, was embarrassed by my reaction to his invitation. A normal person, a person with better manners would have answered the invitation with a polite "yes" or a polite "no." Instead, I said, “I bet I could write about it from the perspective of a first-time viewer.”
Adam and Zach Khalil’s INAATE/SE is not a film to view if you’re looking for escapism. INAATE/SE is about the Ojibway community in Sault Ste. Marie and the movie bends and flexes filmmaking conventions and linear storytelling in order to tell about this tribe’s past and present as well as ask questions about its future. This film will make you think about our relationship to time and history, about the stories we tell, and the stories that are silenced.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Ypsilanti Experimental Space (YES) screened followed INAATE/SE, followed by a Q&A with Adam Khalil. The day before, Khalil was generous enough to meet me at Henry Ford Museum and spend a portion of his afternoon talking with me about his film and his process, opening himself up to an organic and wide-ranging conversation centered in this work. He allowed us to think together for a moment. We talked about survival, representation, what it meant for him and his brother to create this work and how, in some ways, both the past and the future live within us in the present.
This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
In the '30s and '40s, the most horrific words in Hollywood were "Dracula," "Frankenstein," "Mummy," and the names of the iconic creatures that implanted themselves into the popular culture.
For people who love cinema, an even more horrific word reigns supreme in Hollywood's marketing lexicon today: universe. This is the idea that several movies can be grouped together in order to manipulate ticket buyers into seeing films they might otherwise skip. We have the Marvel Universe (Avengers, Iron Man, Thor) at Disney and the DC Universe (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman) at Warner Brothers, and Universal attempted to launch their "Dark Universe" last summer with the Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy. Yes, Universal plans to make a series of films connecting their classic monsters.
Thankfully, the Michigan Theater comes to the rescue every Monday in October by offering up the Classic Monsters series featuring the Universal originals: 1931's Dracula (Oct. 2, 7 pm) and Frankenstein (Oct. 9, 7 pm), 1935's Bride of Frankenstein (Oct. 9:45 pm), 1932's The Mummy (Oct. 16, 7 pm), and 1941's The Wolf Man (Oct. 23, 7 pm).
If you don’t live in New York City or London, and perhaps don’t have the money to go to The Metropolitan Opera or the National Theatre on a regular basis, you might feel like you’re missing out on some amazing arts events.
But HD broadcasts of productions from these venues to movie theatres around the world are a way for people all around the world to see legendary works like La Bohéme, Hamlet, Everyman,Der Rosenkavalier, and more, performed by legendary performers such as Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Plácido Domingo, Vittorio Grigolo, and Renée Fleming. NT Live has been broadcasting shows from the National and other theaters in London to movie theaters since 2009, and The Met: Live in HD has been broadcasting operas since 2006.
Many filmmakers have tackled the true crime saga of the Zodiac Killer, who stalked Northern California and stole national headlines in the late '60s, but only one has been brave enough to try to face the murderer himself. That distinction belongs to Tom Hanson, an L.A. fast-food-magnate-turned-amateur-director who made his 1971 debut, The Zodiac Killer, with the express purpose of catching the actual Zodiac.