2017 Film Selection
12th and Clairmount
Metro Detroiters’ vintage home movie footage provides the heart of 12th and Clairmount, a documentary looking back at the cause, duration, and aftermath of the 1967 Detroit riot/rebellion. Those five days in July were among the most pivotal – and divisive – in the city’s history, with the turmoil leaving 43 dead. While the impending 50th anniversary of the summer of ’67 was the impetus for the film, the found footage in 12th and Clairmount captures a wide spectrum of Detroit life.
ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. Layal (MAISA ABD ELHADI), a young, newly-married Palestinian schoolteacher, receives an eight-year sentence for a crime she didn’t commit. After being transferred to a high-security women’s prison, she is drawn into a tense, diametrically-opposed underworld of Palestinian political radicals and Israeli criminals. As Layal attempts to navigate fraught relationships with her fellow inmates, she discovers that she’s pregnant – and is forced into a series of choices that will change her life forever.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. 44 Pages is a portrait of an American icon – the venerable Highlights magazine, family-owned since its inception in 1946. This charming documentary follows the creation of the magazine’s 70th anniversary issue, from the first editorial meeting to its arrival in homes nine months later. The Highlights staff works tirelessly each month to produce a packed magazine, free of advertisements, for the world’s most important people: children.
AANM Reel Stories Shorts
ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. Join us for a free screening of two short films (made by students in Detroit and Palestine) before the official Arab Shorts: A Cinematic Tour Through the Arab World program.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. In 1948, Polish artist WLADYSLAW STRZEMINSKI, co-founder and lecturer at the Lódz State Art School (later renamed the Strzeminski Academy of Art Lódz), begins his work as a champion for modern art. Amid a surge of Stalinism, Strzeminski’s students and daughter watch as the Polish government puts his art and livelihood in danger. The final work from legendary filmmaker ANDRZEJ WAJDA, Afterimage is a defiant look at artistic freedom, an autumnal portrait of artist and theorist, and a recognition of service, from one Polish master to another.
Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim
ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. US PREMIERE! Ali has a close relationship with Nada, a goat that just might be the reincarnated soul of his deceased girlfriend. Although Ali doesn’t see any problem with this, his mother encourages him to see a healer to help with his issues. When Ali meets Ibrahim at the healer’s clinic, they (and Nada) embark on a journey of friendship, self-discovery, and acceptance.
Arab Shorts - A Cinematic Tour through the Arab World
The Arab American National Museum is proud to present six contemporary Arabic-language film shorts in an assortment of genres and mediums. From a garbage crisis to identity politics and agoraphobia to musical instruments, these shorts encompass a variety of realities and points of view as diverse as the Middle East itself. The official program is immediately preceded by two shorts directed by student groups in Detroit and Palestine. All films are shown with English-language subtitles.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Tired of having the same fights over and over again, a struggling married couple (writer-director ZOE LISTER-JONES and ADAM PALLY) decide to turn their anger and dissatisfaction with each other into something more fun and productive: a rock band. Soon they’re clearing out their Los Angeles garage for rehearsal space and enlisting the help of their neighbor, Weird Dave? (FRED ARMISEN), on drums.
Black Women in Medicine
Prepare to feel uplifted. Black Women in Medicine honors contemporary black women around the country who work diligently in all facets of medicine. Through first-hand accounts from a cross-section of black female pioneers in healthcare – including DR. CLAUDIA THOMAS, the first black female orthopaedic surgeon, and DR. JOCELYN ELDERS, the first black woman to hold the position of United States Surgeon General – the film details the challenges black women have experienced and continue to face today in their drive to practice medicine. You’ll hear from women young and old, and see their unique perspectives as they navigate a landscape where they are few and far between.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. “We need to find new ways of growing food,” declared the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation in 2013, addressing the projected need of feeding 9 billion people by the year 2050. Since then, a team from the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen has taken on researching the viability of insects as a primary food source—and it’s more appealing than you might think. Filmmaker ANDREAS JOHNSEN follows these chefs and scientists on a globe-trotting culinary investigation to Europe, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, and Japan, treating the subject of insect-eating with respect rather than shock and disgust.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. In this real, relatable, and truly unforgettable documentary, a Washington, D.C.-area negotiator urges an LGBTQIA gang to fight for their voices and identities instead of fighting back against their rivals. Directors TOBY OPPENHEIMER (an Emmy award-winner for Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and The End: Inside the Last Days of the Obama White House) and DANA FLOR (The Nine Lives of Marion Barry) follow these violent, vibrant youth as they work through family turmoil, personal strife, community discourse, and forced rewiring of their damaged upbringing.
ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. MICHIGAN PREMIERE! Shot entirely in the back of a police truck shortly after the overthrow of President Morsi, Clash follows supporters and opponents of the fallen president as they express their emotions on the streets of Cairo through protests and parades. As members of both sides are rounded up and thrown into a police van, the politically divided group must try to overcome their differences if they are to stand a chance of survival.
MIDWEST PREMIERE. After his estranged scholar father falls into a coma, Jin (JOHN CHO) reluctantly comes to a small Midwestern college town to be with him. What he finds there is a surprising city full of modernist architecture – and Casey (HALEY LU RICHARDSON), a thoughtful girl stuck in a holding pattern after graduating from high school. Casey loves her hometown and is reluctant to leave her simple life with her mother, a recovering drug addict. She instead spends her days studying the history of the stunning buildings around her and shelving books at the local library. Jin and Casey strike up casual conversations on a few lazy, lovely days, surrounded by the haze and pause of a late Indiana summer. The first feature film from renowned film editor and essayist KOGONADA, Columbus is a moving tale of the connection we feel to the structures that surround us and to the people we meet during times of change.
The Dark Wind
MIDWEST PREMIERE. ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. Reko and Pero are a young Yazidi couple preparing for marriage when their Iraqi village is attacked by ISIS militants. Many of the Yazidi girls, including Pero, are sold into slavery, tortured, and raped. Reko, who was at work during the attack, frantically searches for Pero amid the chaos. Will their true love be able to overcome life-altering trauma? Winner of the DUBAI FILM FESTIVAL MUHR AWARD FOR BEST FICTION FEATURE.
Filmed in Detroit by writer/director – and native son – QASIM BASIR (Mooz-Lum), Destined tells the story of Rasheed (played, in a breakout performance, by CORY HARDRICT), a young Detroit man whose life splits off into two possible outcomes. In one, he’s an up-and-coming architect being used by cynical real estate developers to gentrify his old neighborhood; in the other, he’s a powerful drug lord who rules his surroundings but may regret what he’s built. As his everyday choices begin to create life-changing consequences, Rasheed discovers that his two disparate worlds face similar dilemmas. Also featuring JESSE METCALFE, LA LA ANTHONY, JASON DOHRING, and HILL HARPER.
This year’s program of Michigan-made short films is easily our strongest ever, with local talent that has gone to the next level. Period pieces show both the distant past and possible future, a beautifully animated tale gives the history of the legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and junkyard art becomes a tool for overcoming trauma. These rising filmmakers are competing for a total of $6,000 in prizes in the categories of Knight Foundation Grand Jury Prize, Audience Choice Award, Honorable Mention, and Best High School Film.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Dina is a modern woman living on the autism spectrum who loves both her independent life and her fiancé Scott, a Walmart greeter with Asperger syndrome. Framed through a cinema vérité lens, Dina and Scott navigate the usual troubles that all couples face, from moving in together to planning a wedding, with charm and warmth. They have different ideas of what a “last night of freedom” should entail – Dina opts for raunchy male strippers while Scott chooses a quiet night of bowling with the guys – but both want a fresh start together, equally devoted to each other and their relationship. Winner of the U.S. GRAND JURY PRIZE – DOCUMENTARY at the 2017 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, this unconventional love story takes an intimate, tender look at a couple that is not seen often on the big screen.
Based on an autobiographical novel by FANNY BEN-AMI, Fanny’s Journey is a coming-of-age drama about a 13-year-old Jewish girl who fights for her family’s survival while the Nazis overtake France and Italy. After the arrest of their father in Paris, Fanny and her younger sisters are sent from their home in France to an Italian foster home for Jewish children, led by a tough but kindhearted woman, Madame Forman (César-winning actress CECILE DE FRANCE). Their life is scarcely settled when the Nazis arrive, forcing Fanny and the other ten children to flee yet again. Madame Forman organizes their departure to Switzerland, but when she doesn’t arrive to take them to their next checkpoint, Fanny must step up to lead everyone to safety.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Sifting through one average family’s seemingly banal, iPhone-recorded, YouTube-uploaded home movies, director DEAN FLEISCHER-CAMP (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On) pieces together a darker tale of criminal activity and deliberate deception. Mixing cinema vérité with a morality play, Fraud evokes much broader conversations about American materialism, consumerism, and capitalism. More importantly, it speaks to the “truthiness” of information on the web. In other words, what you see isn’t always what you get.
Free and Easy
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. A dash of dark Coen Brothers-esque humor, a smidgen of creeping post-apocalyptic dread, and a few ounces of post-industrial China are the elements that comprise the cinematic cocktail that is director JUN GENG’s Free and Easy. Don’t let the film’s slow-burn pace fool you – if the beautiful shots of snowy desolation don’t draw you into this tale of thieves, liars, and con men, its quirky and offbeat characters will. Shot in a series of loose vignettes, the film begins with a traveling soap salesman and quickly expands to a bumbling police duo, a monk, and a forester – none of whom may be what they seem at first glance. It’s an undiscovered gem that feels just right for this often absurd post-election world we currently find ourselves navigating. Winner of the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR WORLD CINEMA – DRAMATIC.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. An examination of lives in stasis, with characters suffocated by the ennui of Brooklyn life, Golden Exits is an unhurried study of loosely-connected stories, with an incredibly beautiful score lingering just beneath the surface. Naomi (EMILY BROWNING) arrives in Brooklyn to assist archivist Nick (ADAM HOROWITZ) as he catalogs the estate of his father-in-law, a late magazine publisher. As Naomi shimmers with youth, Alyssa (CHLOË SEVIGNY), Nick’s wife, reminds him of his long-ago indiscretions, returning again and again to puncture any shred of happiness for the long-married couple. Shot on the gorgeous grain of 16mm film, the pent-up frustration and subtle tensions simmer beneath wordy dialogue and persistent close-ups, never quite reaching their boiling point. The cast also includes JASON SCHWARTZMAN, LILY RABE, and MARY LOUISE PARKER. From writer-director ALEX ROSS PERRY, Golden Exits follows his previous work, Queen of Earth, Listen Up Philip, and The Color Wheel.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. Hedi is a simple young man, following the path that has been carved out for him by his overbearing and controlling mother, brother, and boss. When Hedi is sent out of town for work, he meets Rim, a free-spirited lover of life who works at the resort where he’s staying. Hedi throws all his worries out the window as he and Rim begin a passionate love affair. But while Hedi begins to find his carefree self, his responsibilities back home begin to pile up. Can he continue to live his double life, or will everything come crashing down around him? Winner of the BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL BEST FIRST FEATURE and SILVER BEAR (BEST ACTOR) AWARDS.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Western star of yesteryear Lee Hayden (SAM ELLIOTT) likes to reminisce with his drug dealer buddy Jeremy (NICK OFFERMAN) about the good times gone by. But when Lee runs into a roadblock, he gets a fresh chance to reclaim the spotlight with the help of his new lover Charlotte (LAURA PREPON) and an industry award for his work. Director BRETT HALEY (I’ll See You in My Dreams) gives a strong, funny, and touching take on a man in his later years making the best of being in the moment.
IRA DEUTCHMAN SYMPOSIUM SELECTION. Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominately white suburban school well-known for the excellence of its basketball program. Gates and Agee dream of NBA stardom, and with the support of their close-knit families, they battle the social and physical obstacles that stand in their way. This acclaimed documentary was shot over the course of five years. Winner of the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARD.
I Am Not Madame Bovery
When Li (BINGBING FAN, winner of the ASIAN FILM AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS) realizes that her divorce has become a sham, she decides to take on the Chinese bureaucracy. A series of personal battles with community officials provokes a tireless ten-year fight, ultimately taking her one-woman war for justice to Beijing and back. Enlisting the help of her potential new husband and the self-serving authorities who spar with her along the way, Li finds a surprising and poignant outcome. This smart, visually stunning, and insightful slice-of-life look at China won the TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL CRITICS’ AWARD.
I Am Not Your Negro
“The history of America is the history of the Negro in America. And it’s not a pretty picture.” Before he passed in 1987, famed American author JAMES BALDWIN began writing about the deaths of his friends, Civil Rights icons Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The book was never finished but the text still remains. Using Baldwin’s own words, read aloud by narrator SAMUEL L. JACKSON, I Am Not Your Negro explores the history of race, class, and diversity in America, with themes that challenge and inspire. Director RAOUL PECK’s use of archival footage combined with current news clips shows how the teachings of Baldwin have not lost their relevance over the years. As Baldwin states, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed if it is not faced.” Winner of the TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD.
I Dream In Another Language
MIDWEST PREMIERE. Deep in the Vera Cruz province of Mexico, university philologist Martin (FERNANDO ÁLVAREZ REBEIL) searches for the dying indigenous language of Zikril. When he locates two surviving speakers, he also discovers a bitter feud that may silence Zikril forever. As Martin chases language and history in a desperate attempt to preserve both, he uncovers a supernatural, ancestral tale of unrequited and pure love. Director ERNESTO CONTRERAS delivers a beguiling tale of relationships and the communication that can tear or bind them for eternity. Winner of the SUNDANCE AUDIENCE AWARD FOR WORLD CINEMA – DRAMATIC.
I Knew Her Well
Adriana (STEFANIA SANDRELLI) is immersed in the pop culture, music, sexual freedom, and obsession with celebrity that is Rome in the La Dolce Vita era. I Knew Her Well has never received American distribution until now, and its freshness, honesty and knockout central performance reveal it to be a precious, nearly-lost gem of Italian ‘60s cinema.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Layla, Salma, and Nour are three Palestinian roommates trying to find a balance between traditional and modern culture in Tel Aviv. Layla, a fabulously stylish and confident lawyer, lives in the moment. When she meets Ziad, she thinks she has found a progressive, modern man with whom she could potentially settle down. Salma, a lesbian DJ and bartender, drifts aimlessly through life, tethered only by her friendship with Layla. Devout Muslim Nour moves into their shared apartment when she comes to the city to study computer science. Her engagement to Hissam becomes increasingly contentious when she discovers their courtship is not based on mutual love and respect. The trials and tribulations of these women show the challenges of navigating a patriarchal society, but still maintain a sense of optimism at the boundless potential of sisterhood.
ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. As the Syrian conflict rages around her – and swallows up every aspect of her life – Oum struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy. Can she keep her family safe from a constant barrage of bombs, snipers, and thugs in these dark and uncertain times? Paired with Mare Nostrum, a short film about a Syrian father who makes a decision that puts his daughter’s life at risk.
It's Only The End Of The World
When a successful writer (GASPARD ULLIEL) returns to his hometown after years away, he faces the power plays and full-grown pains of his dysfunctional family. With NATHALIE BAYE, LÉA SEYDOUX, MARION COTILLARD, and VINCENT CASSEL.
The Legacies Project
FREE SCREENING. Everyone, regardless of their background, has a story worth sharing. But as community elders pass away, their individual experiences and perspectives pass with them. The goal of The Legacies Project is to preserve older generations’ stories and, in the process, remind ourselves that our seniors are cherished sources of cultural wisdom and first-hand witnesses to history. Through a constantly-expanding, publicly-accessible online video archive, The Legacies Project provides an engaging way to teach and learn history. Stories are recorded, students find new mentors and friends, relatives see new sides of their family members, communities grow closer together, and public screenings cap off the experience around the Project’s essential core: the sharing of stories.
The Little Hours
MIDWEST PREMIERE. In a peaceful medieval convent, three nuns (AUBREY PLAZA, ALISON BRIE, and KATE MICUCCI) live a simple, if boring, life under the watchful eye of Father Tommasso (JOHN C. REILLY). When Massetto (DAVE FRANCO), a sexy young servant, is hired to help out on the convent grounds, their quiet existence is disrupted. To avoid tempting the deprived nuns, Massetto is introduced to them as a deaf-mute – but it’s not long before debauchery runs rampant, with the nuns-gone-wild basking in the sinful joys of witchcraft, sex, and experimental drugs. Instead of mocking religion itself, director JEFF BAENA (Life After Beth, Joshy) has succeeded in making an irreverent, witty comedy that lampoons our basic instincts. Also starring MOLLY SHANNON, NICK OFFFERMAN, FRED ARMISEN, JEMIMA KIRKE, PAUL REISER, and ADAM PALLY.
Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry
MIDWEST PREMIERE. CORNMAN FARMS SPECIAL SCREENING. Told through the lens of writer, environmentalist, and farmer WENDELL BERRY, Look & See takes you on a journey that challenges how you think about land. This meditative look at the culturally- and physically-changing landscape explores the ideological struggle between the deeply ingrained values of local farmers and the growth of industrial agriculture. Directors LAURA DUNN and JEF SEWELL delicately blend interviews with residents of Henry County, Kentucky (Berry’s birthplace) with stunning images of the landscape through all four seasons of the farming cycle.
U.S. PREMIERE. Born 80 years ago in New Zealand, BRUCE MCLAREN overcame a childhood illness to realize his dream of becoming a racecar driver. Ultimately, his unfaltering commitment to himself, his family, and the art of racing has inspired generations of sports fans around the world. Acclaimed director ROGER DONALDSON (Thirteen Days, The World’s Fastest Indian) punctuates this fascinating story with first-hand accounts from racing luminaries EMERSON FITTIPALDI, ALASTAIR CALDWELL, MARIO ANDRETTI, DAN GURNEY, and SIR JACKIE STEWART, along with an unprecedented look into the McLaren family archives. The “favourite son” of two nations and one of motor racing’s greatest icons is a shining example of the human spirit.
Sergio (SERGIO CORRIERI), a young bourgeois, chooses to stay in Havana after Castro seizes power, even though most of his family and friends have fled. His unpredictable and vaguely surreal mindset is mirrored by director TOMÁS GUTIÉRREZ ALEA’S innovative cinematic style.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Menashe, a kind grocery store clerk, walks a difficult tightrope of faith, tradition, and staying true to himself. His philosophical struggles manifest in the real world as he longs to parent his young son, who he’s prohibited from raising alone after his wife’s death. As the anniversary of his wife’s passing approaches, Menashe is given an opportunity to show his ultra-orthodox Jewish community that he’s not an outsider. MENASHE LUSTIG stars as the title character and bursts off the screen with a performance that’s equally filled with heart and pathos; his face alone can tell his story. Performed entirely in Yiddish under the direction of JOSHUA Z WEINSTEIN, the film skillfully opens the door to a world that is seldom seen by strangers.
A radical student is adopted by a group of young New Yorkers, which serves as a catalyst to alter his and their lives. Gathering in a Manhattan apartment, the group of friends meet to discuss social mobility, Fourier’s socialism and play bridge in their cocoon of upper-class society – until they are joined by a man with a critical view of their way of life.
FREE SCREENING! MIDWEST PREMIERE. Teenage Kokone should be studying for her university entrance exams, but she just can’t stay awake. She dreams about a strange world filled with magic, monsters, city-stomping robots, and a trapped princess whose only companion is an enchanted doll. What do these strange dreams mean? And how do they connect to her talented but enigmatic father, her virtual reality-loving cousin, and her tech-obsessed friends? As she tries to navigate her waking and dreaming worlds, Kokone unlocks an adventure for the whole family.
The Night of Counting the Years (AKA The Mummy)
The Night of Counting the Years, acknowledged as one of the greatest Egyptian films ever made, is based on an incident from 1881, when it was discovered that a tribe had been secretly raiding the tombs of the Pharaohs in Thebes. The drama’s carefully measured pace, almost ceremonial movement of the camera, and unsettling score all work in perfect harmony.
Once Upon a Time in America
EXTENDED DIRECTOR’S CUT. Presented with one intermission. Director SERGIO LEONE’s operatic portrait of four decades in the lives of a group of New York gangsters was cut by 90 minutes for its brief U.S. release. This edition was re-assembled using the original 35mm camera negative to create a frame-by-frame, 4K digital restoration with full color correction. Featuring ROBERT DE NIRO, JAMES WOODS, TUESDAY WELD, JOE PESCI and ELIZABETH MCGOVERN, and a masterful score by ENNIO MORRICONE.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Down in her mother’s basement, Patricia Dombrowski (DANIELLE MACDONALD), a.k.a. “Killa P” and “Patti Cake$,” dreams of escaping dirty New Jersey on the coattails of her rhymes. Stuck working in a hole-in-the-wall bar, under the weight of her beloved Nana’s medical bills and her alcoholic mother’s struggles, Patti finds solace and purpose in her music. Unable to find a producer with “fire beats,” Patti and her best friend Jheri (SIDDARTH DHANANJAY) join forces with goth-metal musician Basterd (MAMOUDOU ATHIE) in the hopes of achieving hip-hop superstardom. Nominated for the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE, Patti Cake$ is a must see for hip-hop and film fans alike.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. When Thana, a celebrated architect, is forced out of his firm in favor of younger talent, he realizes the life he so carefully built is beginning to crumble. As he sinks deeper into existential crisis – fueled in part by a souring relationship with his wife and the demolition of the building that marked the crowning achievement of his career – Thana is unexpectedly rescued by Pop Aye, an elephant from his childhood. As they saunter through crowded city streets, neon-lit roadside bars, and strikingly beautiful countryside in an effort to reach the village where Thana grew up, they encounter an eclectic cast of lost souls and vagabonds. Pop Aye – the brilliant debut feature from director KIRSTEN TAN – is a poignant and often humorous reminder that the past still gently pulls on us and can appear in the most unexpected of ways.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Meet the Raineys – dad Christopher (a.k.a. Quest), mom Christine’a (a.k.a. Ma Quest), son William, and daughter Patricia (a.k.a. P.J.). Photographer-turned-filmmaker JONATHAN OLSHEFSKI followed this working-class family through eight years of their lives in inner-city Philadelphia, capturing every challenge and triumph in true cinema vérité style. The Raineys are a unique American household, with Quest juggling two jobs to support his recording studio-slash-home for wayward artists and Ma working at a domestic violence shelter while caring for her daughter, son, and grandson, but they could also be anyone. What’s shared onscreen is stunning in its simplicity, addressing broader cultural conversations (drugs, violence, illness, and politics) through the lens of one loving, determined family and the community they influence.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. National coverage of a gruesome double murder leaves Japanese citizens reeling in fear and suspicion. The killer is nowhere to be found – until he begins traveling the country, swapping identities to stay one step ahead of the police. Now, everyone’s a suspect: the mysterious young man dating a vulnerable daughter; the stranger-turned-lover picked up from the sauna; the drifter living alone on a remote island. Are these three enigmatic newcomers innocent, or are they connected to the crime (and each other)? Based on the acclaimed novel from SHÛICHI YOSHIDA, Rage features a dynamic cast, including KEN WATANABE.
One of the most breathtaking and visionary experimental works in film history, Rapsodia Satanica – restored here to its original rich color palette – is a Faustian tale about an old woman (LYDA BORELLI) who makes a pact with Mephisto to regain her youth; in return, she must stay away from love. The great score, newly recorded by opera composer PIETRO MASCAGNI, is a treasure unto itself. Four other shorts are also included in this program: Monumental Bologna (1912), a priceless, five-minute tour of Bologna’s parks, basilicas, fountains, and people; A Day With Puccini (Un Giorno con Puccini), an eight-minute gem shot at the composer’s villa in Torre del Lago; and two extremely rare, restored documentary shorts, Ford and Fiat, depicting the Ford Motor Company and the Fiat factory, both filmed in 1910.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. The life and death of the brown rat. Those who keep them as pets and those who kill them for fun. Systemic disenfranchisement and economic inequality in the city of Baltimore. Street view computer simulations and their glitches. Crime scene investigations, both big and small. An eminently likeable exterminator. These disparate subjects and more are woven together into the kaleidoscopic and elliptical documentary Rat Film. Writer/director THEO ANTHONY wrings his subjects, studying them from all possible angles until they bleed into a single entity. A calm, detached narrator guides us through the mass, an anthropologist of our near-past and present day. Part ethnographic study, part nature documentary, part overwhelming polemic, Rat Film is an experimental look at Baltimore’s four-legged denizens and our human nature.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. In director AMANDA KERNELL’s stunning debut film, strong-willed Elle-Marja, a teenage Sami girl growing up in 1930s Sweden, struggles to reconcile her reindeer-breeding culture with her desire to have the same opportunities and privileges as her Swedish peers. Elle-Marja is resourceful, resilient, and unwavering in achieving her modern ambitions, but she must make a choice between her Sami heritage and the life she wants to lead. Told in beautiful coming-of-age fashion, Sami Blood is poignant and unsentimental in its attempt to make sense of Sweden’s complex history of indigenous oppression, leaving the audience affected long after the conclusion. Winner of the VENICE FILM FESTIVAL FEDEORA AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG DIRECTOR.
MIDWEST PREMIERE. Set in the verdant countryside of Kells, Ireland, School Life follows two remarkable teachers and their pupils at the only primary-age boarding school in the country. John and Amanda Leyden have been at Headfort, an 18th century home-turned-school, for nearly half a century, teaching kids through rock bands, books, and respect. This year, however, their feelings are bittersweet as they contemplate retirement and what it would mean to leave their idyllic life.
Sex, Lies and Videotape
IRA DEUTCHMAN SYMPOSIUM SELECTION. Ann (ANDIE MACDOWELL) is trapped in a sexually and emotionally unfulfilled relationship with her husband, John (PETER GALLAGHER), a successful but unpleasant lawyer who is sleeping with her sister, Cynthia (LAURA SAN GIACOMO). The underlying tensions in the couple’s marriage rise to the surface when Graham (JAMES SPADER), a friend of John’s from college who’s been drifting for nine years, returns to town and videotapes Cynthia and Ann as they talk about their sexual desires. Writer/director STEVEN SODERBERGH won the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL PALME D’OR for this, his first feature film.
MIDWEST PREMIERE. ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. Therese, married to the mayor of a small Lebanese village, is highly anticipating the overnight visit of her daughter’s new suitor and his family. As she frantically prepares her house for the guests, Therese keeps a running one-sided dialogue with framed photos of her deceased brother, who was killed 20 years ago by a Syrian bomb. By the time the doorbell rings, everything is just perfect – until Therese discovers that her soon-to-be in-laws are Syrian.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women aspires to send every single one of its students to college, despite whatever obstacles stand in their way. Step follows three BLSYW students and step dance team members as they enter their senior year, tackle college applications, and nurture their collective love of art. These “Lethal Ladies” have a constant support team by their side to help them navigate the tricky relationship between growing up and the dreams of youth. Directed by AMANDA LIPITZ, this documentary isn’t just a story about these young women, but the story of all our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and daughters. Winner of the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL U.S. DOCUMENTARY SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR INSPIRATIONAL FILMMAKING.
Symphony in D
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. In 2015, Pulitzer Prize-nominated composer TOD MACHOVER began an ambitious project commissioned by the Knight Foundation: To bring more than 15,000 individual contributions of music and sound together with a performance by the DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. “We’re going to show the world what Detroit sounds like,” he said. Two years later, not only does this lyrical piece turn a cacophony of voices, sounds, and images into a concise narrative, it manages to capture the personalities, locations, artists, and even machines of Detroit. Don’t miss this story behind Machover’s “Symphony in D,” a highly nusual—but totally captivating—modern day visual overture.
The Vietnam War with Filmmakers Lynn Novick & Sarah Botstein
DPTV, Cinetopia Film Festival and the Detroit Film Theatre are proud to screen highlights from director KEN BURNS’s new project, The Vietnam War. The full ten-part, 18-hour series, airing on PBS later this fall, delivers testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including those who fought in the war, those who opposed it, and in-depth looks from both the winning and losing sides. Be part of this episodic journey with digitally re-mastered global archival footage, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, plus more than 100 iconic musical recordings of the era.
MIDWEST PREMIERE. Tribal courts number in the hundreds throughout the United States. They offer a traditional, communal justice system for Native Americans and have become beacons of criminal justice reform due to their emphasis on restoration and rehabilitation instead of punishment and incarceration. Tribal Justice focuses on two Chief Judges, the HONORABLE ABBY ABINANTI and the HONORABLE CLAUDETTE WHITE, of the Yurok and Quechan Tribal Courts, respectively. Over a period of four years, cameras document their attempts at rehabilitating tribal members such as Taos, an excitable and sweet repeat offender, and Isaac, Judge White’s bored teenage nephew. With attention, kindness, and sovereignty, these judges attempt to raise their constituents out of inequality and hardship. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said tribal courts have “much to teach the other court systems operating in the United States,” and Tribal Justice is a heartfelt testament to that.
Uncle Jesse White: Portrait of a Delta Bluesman in Detroit
Filled with as much love for the music as it is for its subject, this project – 20 years in the making – isn’t just the story of Detroit’s blues scene after the Great Migration, but a history of a man, a people, a city, and the intersection of race, art, and labor. JESSIE WHITE left the Jim Crow South in 1950 and helped to shape Detroit’s blues scene with his captivating personality during some of the city’s darkest days. With his own brand of Delta blues, White continued the tradition of Southern house parties where everyone, white or black, from assembly plant workers to blues luminaries such as such as JOHN LEE HOOKER, THE BUTLER TWINS, EDDIE BURNS, and JOHNNIE BASSET, JR., would “sit in” all night and weekend long to share their love of music.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Set at the intersection of faith and mysticism, director HONG-JIN NA’s modern take on supernatural mystery takes the viewer on an unforgettable trip through the dizzying and twisty mountains of Korea. A stranger’s arrival in a remote town precedes the spread of a disease that causes a viciousness to spread through the infected. The police officer who is sent to investigate winds up dealing with more than he bargained for when the disease infects his daughter. Tonally at home with the best European crime thrillers, George Romero’s zombie films, and the darkest corners of Hitchcock’s canon, The Wailing is a visceral mystery interested in exploring the familial bonds that are tested when a father is at his most desperate.
White Colour Black
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. This film will give you another lens through which to view the complex world of Africa. Leke (played by supermodel DUDLEY O’SHAUGHNESSY), a successful young London-based photographer, travels to Senegal to bury his estranged father. This beautifully shot film doesn’t waste time explaining the complicated backstory of how the biracial Leke ended up in London, but instead focuses on his attempt to reconcile his feelings as he tries to relate to the land of his father and the culture he left behind. Through dynamic cinematography and a patient pace that gives the film a voyeuristic quality, we get to know Leke as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, finding himself in others and places he thought were long forgotten.
MICHIGAN PREMIERE. Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising as told by the citizens and activists who were there. After 18-year-old MICHAEL BROWN is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, the city of Ferguson, MO, stares years of police brutality and institutional racism in the face and doesn’t blink. And as the National Guard descends on the city with military-grade weaponry, a new resistance is born. Whose Streets? is a moving testament to a new generation of people fighting, not only for their civil rights, but simply for the right to live. This documentary offers more than just questions – it offers a powerful way forward.
MIDWEST PREMIERE. Rosie Ming is a Canadian Francophile and poet. The only child of an Iranian father and Chinese mother, Rosie has been raised by her grandparents since the age of seven. Now in her twenties, she surprises her grandparents with a self-published volume of poems, My Eye Full: Poems by a Person Who Has Never Been to France. When she attends a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran, Rosie finds herself in the company of older, more experienced poets – some of whom remember her father. Window Horses is an earnest and lush exploration of family, poetry, imagination, and culture from writer/director/illustrator ANN MARIE FLEMING, and an all-ages treat for the senses. Featuring the voices of SANDRA OH, SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO, and ELLEN PAGE. Winner of the VANCOUVER FILM FESTIVAL BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM AWARD.
U.S. PREMIERE. ARAB FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION. In a dark, post-apocalyptic future, where the world has all but come to an end, a group of unlikely survivors band together and take refuge in an abandoned hangar. They struggle to stay alive and protect one of the last remaining sources of uncontaminated water. When the group is attacked by thieves, two strangers come to their aid. The leader of the group allows the strangers to stay as long as they follow the camp’s rules. But when one of the strangers betrays the group, things begin to unravel even further and faster into chaos and madness.
MIDWEST PREMIERE. Xolani is a lonely factory-worker in Queenstown, South Africa, who spends his days keeping to himself while going through the mindless motions of work. He patiently waits every year for the annual ukwaluka, a secret ritual in the hills where young boys undergo the brutal but important act of becoming men. Xolani is a khaukatha, or mentor, to these boys along with his childhood friend, Vija. Vija, a popular married man with children, seems to lead the life that ukwaluka promises the young boys, a life full of power and masculinity. But when Xolani’s young charge, a Westernized young boy from Johannesburg, sees more into the relationship between the two men than they would wish, Xolani’s carefully held secrets began to slip away from him. The Wound is a harsh exploration of black masculinity, homosexuality, and tradition in modern South Africa, a tale of the choices we make when the secret identities we cling to begin to unravel.