Cinetopia Film Festival founder Russ Collins voices nothing less than satisfaction as he talks about the event’s growth in its six years.
The first Cinetopia, in 2012, drew about 5,000 attendees to Ann Arbor. Last year, expanded to include Dearborn and Bloomfield Township, the festival brought out 22,000, and Collins is confident this year’s Cinetopia — June 1-11 — will approach if not surpass the 30,000 mark.
“This is a film festival that’s about cinema passion,” Collins says — and, he adds, appropriate since southeastern Michigan, by virtue of the auto industry, was the leading maker of movies in the world early in the 20th century, and ranked second only to Hollywood through the 1960s.
With new venues (including Cornman Farms in Dexter) and continuing partnerships with the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and the Maple Theatre in Bloomfield, Cinetopia 2017 has a bigger footprint than ever. And that will make it more challenging for movie lovers as they navigate more than 110 screenings of 65 features and shorts from around the world.
To make it easier, here are baker’s dozen not to miss over the course of this year’s Cinetopia run.
• “Detroit Voices”: A compendium of short films by aspiring Detroit directors, 7:30 p.m. June 11 at the Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit. A “Detroit Voices Retrospective” featuring past works and commentary by Cinetopia Senior Curator Sultan Sharrief is at 3:15 p.m. June 4 in the Michigan Theater annex, Ann Arbor.
• “Destined”: A Detroit-filmed drama by Ann Arbor native Qasim Basir about a young man facing two possible life outcomes, 9:15 p.m. June 2 at the Michigan Theater Annex; 9:30 p.m. June 9 at the College For Creative Studies, Detroit.
• “The Hero”: Sam Elliott, Nick Offerman and Laura Prepon star in this feature about an aging Western actor and his drug dealer buddy, 7:30 p.m. June 1 at the Michigan Theater; 7:30 p.m. June 4 at the Maple Theater, Bloomfield; 4:45 p.m. June 11 at the Henry Ford Giant Screen Experience, Dearborn.
• “McLaren”: U.S. premiere of the documentary about Bruce McLaren’s rise to racing prominence, 8 p.m. June 2 at the Henry Ford Giant Screen Experience, Dearborn.
• “Menashe”: Michigan premiere of American-Israeli film about a grocery store clerk’s struggle between faith and secular life, 8 p.m. June 4, Michigan Theater Screening Room, Ann Arbor; 7:30 p.m. June 7, Maple Theater.
• “Once Upon A Time In America”: Four hour director’s cut, 1 p.m. June 11 at the Detroit Film Theatre as part of the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival-within-the-festival.
• “Patti Cake$”: U-M alumnus Noah Stahl-produced feature about an aspiring New Jersey rapper who hopes to leave a stultifying home life, 9 p.m. June 3, Michigan Theater Screening Room, Ann Arbor; 4 p.m. June 10, College For Creative Studies, Detroit.
• “Sex, Lies and Videotape”: Daytime symposium with independent film mogul Ira Deutchman sheds new light on the 1989 landmark drama screening that evening, June 5 at the Michigan Theater.
• “Symphony in D”: Michigan premiere of the chronicle about composer Tod Machover’s multimedia piece debuted last year with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m. June 10 at Detroit Film Theatre.
• “Tribal Justice”: Director Annie Makepeace’s arresting examination of Native American justice outside the American courts screens four times during the festival.
• “Uncle Jessie White: Portrait of a Delta Bluesman in Detroit”: Hourlong examination of White and the Detroit blues scene after the Great Migration, 3:30 p.m. June 4, Michigan Theater Screening Room.
• “The Vietnam War”: An early look at the upcoming Ken Burns documentary series coming to PBS in fall, with an hourlong sample and a talk by co-director Lynn Novick, 7 p.m. Friday, June 9, Detroit Film Theatre.
• Just for fun, “Don Giovanni & the Rocky Horror Picture show,” 8 p.m. June 9 at Cinema Detroit, pairs the films and includes goody bags and costume contests.
• If you go: Cinetopia Film Festival runs June 1-11 in Detroit, Bloomfield Township, Dearborn and Ann Arbor. Tickets $9 for individual screenings to $150 for full-festival passes. Visit cinetopiafestival.org.
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