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Emagine Royal Oak bucking restrictions, opening for Juneteenth film festival

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Emagine Entertainment is opening one of its theaters this weekend -- for a blockbuster issue rather than blockbuster films.

Though the state of Michigan hasn't green-lighted the opening of indoor movie theaters yet, Emagine's Royal Oak theater will host a Juneteenth Film Festival starting Friday, June 19, hosting socially conscious movies by black filmmakers and actors to honor the 155th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the American Confederacy.

The festival will also raise money for the United Negro College Fund.

"We didn't seek permission, per se," acknowledges Paul Glantz, Emagine's chairman and CEO. "If we have to ask, it'll be for forgiveness. I think in all candor it's time to open theaters, anyway. We might be jumping the gun a little bit, but it's in good faith."

Glantz -- who headed a task force that created protocols for theater reopenings -- says the Emagine Royal Oak will have a full array of Covid-19 measures in place, included reduced capacity, social distancing contactless purchases, deep cleaning, hand sanitizer stations and more. No other films will be running in the theater during the festival.

The festival is currently slated to run for a week, but Glantz says it could be extended if demand dictates.

"When you look at what's going on in virtually every other business in the economy that's been opened, it's time for us (to open), too," he says. "I think we're on the cusp of it, anyway." In the midst of daily protests for social justice and reform, authorities will also have to juggle the potentially bad optics of shutting down such a timely and topical -- and charitable -- festival, even if it's pushing the current policies.

Royal Oak Mayor Michal Fournier, in fact, has endorsed the festival, saying in a statement that, "We are so appreciative to have Emagine as a partner in this community spearheading positivity and education through this film festival."

"It's really designed to honor the emancipation of slaves and to concurrently raise money for a good cause," Glantz notes.

The Juneteenth Film Festival will include about a dozen films, including "Do the Right Thing," "The Color Purple," "If Beale Street Could Talk" and "I Am Not Your Negro." Admission will be $10. 248.414.1000 or emagine-entertainment.com for more details and film schedules.

Web Site: www.emagine-entertainment.com

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