Cinema Chat: Ann Arbor Film Festival Special Edition

Mar 19, 2015

This week's Cinema Chat is an extended length "special edition" focusing on this year's Ann Arbor Film Festival.  Patrick Campion talks with Russ Collins and Leslie Raymond. 

The 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival

Opening on Tuesday, March 24, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America.  Special programs include a tribute to AAFF Founder George Manupelli, who passed away late last year. Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for experimental filmmaking and films by artist-filmmakers, the 53rd Festival will feature more than 200 films, videos (many of the films/videos in short format) and live performances. There will be over 30 world, North American and U.S. premieres. The 53rd AAFF takes place at the Michigan Theater, State Theatre and Performance Network Theater, March 24-29. 

The Freep Film Festival

Presented by the Detroit Free Press, the Freep Film Festival showcases films that are about or relevant to Detroit, the region and Michigan in the hopes of fostering engagement and discussion what makes the Detroit area unique.  Among the films playing this year is "Let's Have Some Church Detroit Style," a 90-minute documentary made by Chelsea resident Andrew Sacks that will premiere March 22 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It tells the story of the all-star choir led by Dr. E. LaQuant Weaver, their personal challenges and love of music, and chronicles their trip to a competition in Birmingham, AL. The Freep Film Festival takes place March 19-22. 

Don’t forget the Cinetopia Festival, June 5-14. Cinetopia brings the best films from the world’s best film festivals, to Ann Arbor and Detroit.  Festivals are great for both cinematic and personal discovery.  Set aside some time and make sure you attend one or more of these wonderful film festivals -- right in your backyard.

Opening Downtown

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. The film takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation.  Artfully combining dramatizations, performance and archival imagery, the film recounts the stories of women who fought for their own equality, and in the process created a world-wide revolution.  “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” plays March 22-23 at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the Multiplex

In “The Gunman,” Sean Penn stars as former special-ops agent James Terrier, who is suddenly targeted by some of the world’s best hitmen.  Terrier must dig into his top-secret past to figure out who wants him dead, and why.  Also starring Javier Bardem and Idris Elba, “The Gunman” opens Friday.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent” raises the stakes for Tris (Shailene Woodley) as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris and Four (Theo James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.  “Insurgent” opensFriday.

Special Screenings Downtown

By amplifying Palestinian voices through the screen arts, the Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival brings to the Ann Arbor community the arts, culture, politics, and history of Palestine.  Opening night of the 4th annual Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival takes place Thursday March 19at the Michigan Theater, with screenings of “Ismail” and “Mars at Sunrise.”

Ismail Short - Official Trailer (2013) from Ismail Film on Vimeo.

The Road to Fame” tells a unique story of coming-of-age with Chinese characteristics. The film chronicles the staging of the American musical Fame–China’s first official collaboration with Broadway–by the senior class at China’s top drama academy as their graduation showcase. During the 8-month process, 5 students compete for roles, struggle with pressure from family and authority, and confront complex social realities and their own anxieties.  Featuring a post-screening Q&A with director Hao Wu.   Admission is free!  “The Road to Fame” plays Friday March 20 at 2 PM at the Michigan Theater. Presented by the Confucius Institute at U-M

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” revolves around the Battle of Myeongnyang circa 1597, regarded as one of legendary Joseon admiral Yi Sun-sin's most remarkable naval victories, in which he led the only 12 ships remaining in his command to a heroic victory against an invading Japanese fleet numbering 330 vessels. “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” plays Saturday, March 21 at 2 PM at the Michigan Theater. Admission is free and sponsored by the Nam Center for Korean Studies as part of the Korean Cinema Now film series.

“They Live By Night” is this week’s Noir film. Director Nicholas Ray’s first feature stars Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell as a fugitive couple who, despite their criminal activities, are hopelessly naïve, fabricating their own idyllic dream world as the authorities close in. “They Live By Night” plays Monday, March 23 at 7 PM.

See you at the movies!

Credit courtesy photo / michtheater.org