There’s a lot going on this Cinetopia & we at the Detroit Film Theatre are very, very pleased to be bringing this truly international film festival to Southeast Michigan. It’s been almost impossible to choose just 5 films, but here goes!
- 1982: This story of a working-class father (Hill Harper) trying to keep his family together despite his wife’s drug relapse is both, a superbly acted ensemble drama and an elegantly crafted directorial debut from Tommy Oliver. A major find at the “Discovery” program of the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, 1982 is heartfelt, involving and deeply human: a prime example of truly independent filmmaking at its best.
- THE DOG: For most moviegoers, John Wojtowicz – whose botched 1972 Brooklyn bank robbery was dramatized in Dog Day Afternoon – will always be Al Pacino. But there was a real Wojtowicz, and this documentary portrait reveals him in all his amped-up, foul-mouthed, must-see-him-to-believe-him glory. The Dog brought the house down when I caught it at the 2013 New York Film Festival.
- THE GREAT FLOOD: In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded nearly 30,000 miles of the south, causing what became essentially a mass migration of displaced Americans to northern cities such as Chicago and Detroit. Filmmaker Bill Morrison has assembled rare archival footage of this event into a stunning and innovative documentary, featuring an original score by the legendary Bill Frisell.
- A TOUCH OF SIN: Jia Zhang-ke proved with his The World that he’s one of China’s most innovative and insightful contemporary directors. His new film is a stunningly woven and visually magnificent quilt of four separate stories – all based on real-life incidents – that combine to give us a sweeping, impressionistic vision of a society undergoing enormous social and political changes, while never losing sight of the human beings at the movie’s core.
- ELLIOT’S DPTV SURPRISE SCREENING: On Friday, June 6th at the Detroit Film Theatre, I’ll be presenting a special, one-time-only showing of a film that’s extraordinary and memorable on many levels. We were able to obtain this “sneak” screening for Cinetopia only by keeping the title under wraps until the moment the lights go down. I can tell you only this: be there!
Elliot Wilhelm, Curator of Film & Video, Detroit Institute of Arts