Ah, Cinetopia! This year’s lineup makes me so so proud. The films are a dynamic mix of the humorous and the tense, the avant-garde & the classic styles of filmmaking and the big names playing side by side with the up-and coming wunderkinds. My picks are but a brief glance into what Cinetopia has to offer this year.

  • WHITE SHADOWTo think that a part of what makes you, uniquely you, could be thought of by others as a lucrative commodity. A commodity that makes you hunted, persecuted, desecrated. White Shadow takes a chilling look at the ‘albino trade’ happening in Tanzania, one of the oldest known areas on the planet. Rich cultural heritage jutted against urban sprawl: area gangs seek out albinos like our central character, Alias, to make it rich on the folklore of their healing medicinal properties. As Alias navigates the terrain to his survival, every move could be his last. We are proud to be welcoming this film’s lead actors, Hamisi Bazili and James Gayo for their first-ever US appearance for these premiere screenings at Cinetopia.
  • TOM AT THE FARM Xavier Dolan as a one-man force of filmmaking has delivered year-upon-year some of the most visually stunning, mentally provoking films of Northern America in the past decade. Tom At The Farm is Dolan’s first film where the plot is taken from a source other than his own delightfully twisted, neurotic takes of love/loss in a modern world. The original play gives a comedic look at a homecoming gone terribly wrong. Dolan gets into the crevices of the story and pushes out the chilling reality of what a person pushed to their limits of fear is capable of; perfect for a late-night screening.
  • RICH HILL & HELLIONThis is a two-fer that should be viewed from both sides of the art of filmmaking. The first, a documentary that takes an unflinching look at the lives of three down-and-out teenagers coping with angst and grief. The second, a narrative … takes an unflinching look at the trials of a down-and-out teenager riddled with angst and grief. Both are powerful and hit a nerve that reverberates too close to most. Make sure you take notice of what is happening to our disconnected young teens of today.
  • A TOUCH OF SIN: Working with the University Of Michigan Confucius Institute and the Center for Chinese Studies, we are proud to be able to bring A Touch of Sin to the state; a must-see of the festival from filmmaker Jia Zhangke. Four people put in circumstances that are at once the everyday and at the same time unimaginable. Hyper-violent, but understandably so, set against the sprawling, beautiful landscape of China, it is a touching and divisive film that will keep you thinking and talking for days, weeks, months to come.
  • THE CASE AGAINST 8 Following this roller coaster of a legal battle in the media is nothing compared to seeing it through the eyes of the people who lived the case first-hand. This documentary calls to attention our inherent right for equality across all aspects of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the United States. Namely, the right to marry and the belief that two people who commit themselves to each other, regardless of gender, deserve all civil liberties, those given to all. Cinetopia is pleased to have the Michigan ACLU as a community partner for these special screenings to deliver a dynamic post-show discussion with the audience.

And a BONUS pick

  •  ATTILA MARCEL: At the innocent, colorful heart of Attila Marcel is the longing for more: knowing more, loving more, being more. Sylvain Chomet delivers all of that and then some in his first-ever live-action film, following the dreamy animated features The Illusionist and The Triplets Of Belleville. Escapism at its finest and done so in the way it always should be: presented across the expanse of a silver screen. This is a delicious blend of eye-catching visual layers, subtle notes of existentialism and a parade of characters that make you want the head trip to go on and on.

I’m sure you will enjoy these films as much as I did. Catch you at Cinetopia!

Drew Waller – Director, Sponsorship & Talent Acquisition