Winners Announced!

2017 Detroit Voices Competition

A continuing force in the Cinetopia Film Festival mission, Detroit Voices provides the opportunity for local filmmakers to showcase their creative spirit and Michigan perspective with a larger audience. The competition was open to all Michigan filmmakers with an additional category awarding a high school filmmaker. Cash awards are made possible by sponsors John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

Knight Jury Prize – $3,000 cash award
Scrap Dolls. Dir. Aude Cuenod 13 mins
On the east side of Detroit an 11-year-old boy, grieving over the loss of his best friend, encounters an artist who makes art out of abandoned objects.

Michigan Film & Digital Media Audience Choice Award – $1,500 cash award
Model No. Human. Dir. Adam Cooper 11 mins
A man with a mechanical brain believes he once lived as a human. When he meets a familiar young girl, memories of his past are triggered and he fights for her life.

Best High School Film Award – $1,000 cash award
#Biodiversity is Unity. Dir. Dy’Shauna Rutherford 3 mins
An exploration of the innate diversity of biology and how its reflected in our community and environment

Honorable Mention – $500 cash award
Mosquito, The Bite Of Passage. Dir. Brian Vincent Rhodes & Eric Cheng 6 mins
A mother and daughter mosquito go hunting together for the first time, and the daughter is desperately trying to confess that she doesn’t like blood.

For the first year, the Arab Film Festival at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn awarded a winner for the Arab Shorts: A Cinematic Tour Through the Arab
World program that screened on Saturday, June 10. Ayny, a stop-motion animated film directed by Ahmad Saleh about two boys dodging their overprotective mother in a seemingly innocent money-making scheme to purchase a classical musical instrument, took the honor.

Audiences who missed the award-winning films may have a chance to screen them in the near future at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor—an encore screening of the Detroit Voices competition is planned for the near future.

Mission and Objective

Detroit Voices is a local short film competition that champions Michigan filmmakers by showcasing the talent and creative spirit of our state.

General Rules

Detroit Voices 2017 Rules and Regulations:

  1. Films must be made by Michigan Filmmakers
  2. Films must either be shot in southeast Michigan OR feature a story about Michigan or Michigan characters
  3. Films are not required to come exclusively from Detroit, though films from Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb counties will be given priority.
  4. All submissions must only contain content owned by the submitting team.
  5. Films with unlicensed music or visuals cannot be played at the festival.
  6. Cinetopia reserves the right to use clips from the film and images submitted with the film for marketing and promotional purposes.
  7. The filmmaker or a representative for the filmmaking team must be in attendance at the festival to be considered for the awards.
  8. Detroit Voices is primarily a shorts program though feature films may be submitted and will be reviewed if time and resources allow. Feature films are not in competition for the prizes but could receive a screening honorarium if chosen.
  9. Films more than 30 minutes in length will not be considered for the shorts program.
  10. Cinetopia reserves the right to reject any material that is discriminatory in nature.

2017 Selections

Films are listed in order they were shown

2017 Selections
Biodiversity is Unity. Dir. DyShauna Rutherford 3 mins

An exploration of the innate diversity of biology and how it’s reflected in our community and environment

About DyShauna Rutherford

DyShauna Rutherford, a 17-year-old film maker from Northern Michigan, has been making videos for four years. Filmmaking hasn’t been a passion for long but it has helped her grow closer to my family (my actors) and grow more artistically.

 

The Phoenix Dir. Bushra Varachia 4 mins

An aspiring photographer sets off on a journey through Detroit to return a golden, car-shaped clock to a mysterious woman in a red coat.

About Bushra Varachia

A third year Cinema Studies student at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. After graduation, she aspires to be a film editor. 

Bombs Over the Undergrad Dir. Mirna Aziz 3 mins

The struggle of a Middle Eastern student arriving in the USA.

About Mirna Aziz

Mirna was born in Baghdad, Iraq. She began singing at age 3, and acting later at 10. In 2009, she moved to the United States with her family. Participating in music and filmmaking activities during her high school years helped furthered her career. She started pursuing music and film at 17 years old.

Makwa  Dir. Stephenie Kandes 3 mins

A 2D animated film based on the Native American legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan about a mother and her two children whose island is destroyed by a forest fire.

About Stephenie Kandes

Stephenie Kandes is a twenty-two old Michigan native and a recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. She just completed her B.F.A in Animation with a minor in storyboarding, specializing particularly in 2D and puppet animation. Stephenie is very active; she enjoys playing soccer and volleyball as well as performing through community theater. She has participated in over eighteen productions and has played roles such as Mrs. Potts (Beauty and the Beast), Mme. Thernardier (Les Miserables), and Ursula the Sea Witch (The Little Mermaid Jr.). Other things that she enjoys are writing, reading, and walking on the beach looking for petosky stones and beach glass.

Scrap Dolls. Dir. Aude Cuenod 13 mins

On the east side of Detroit an 11-year-old boy, grieving over the loss of his best friend, encounters an artist who makes art out of abandoned objects.

Black Trust Fund Baby vs Remote Therapy Dir. Josh Gibert 5 mins

A bratty college drop-out distracts himself from his woes with technology but an encounter with his step-sister triggers a supernatural revelation.

About Josh Gibert

Josh Gibert is a 24-year-old, local actor/director and University of Michigan alum. In 2015, he was chosen to participate in the prestigious Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter’s Intensive: Detroit. Josh is currently producing and starring in his own web series, is developing a Detroit-set pilot, and is working to bring challenging narratives and compelling characters to the screen.

Raghad. Dir. Hadeel Hadidi  11 mins

As a little girl starts kindergarten, she realizes she is perceived as different by the other children and must find a way to hold on to her identity whilst trying to fit in.

About Hadeel Hadidi

Hadeel Hadidi is a writer/director and Michigan native. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of Michigan. She continued her education and received her MFA in Screenwriting & Directing from Columbia College Chicago. In the last four years, she has worked on numerous commercials, music videos and feature films with many esteemed directors, including The Wachowskis, Michael Bay, Damien Chazelle, Nicolas Winding Refn and Mark Romanek. She currently works in digital at Rhett & Link, Inc and has also produced a segment  for the YouTube duo for VidCon Europe 2017. She is also writing her first feature film, Alaa & the Jinn.

Alter Road. Dir. Julian Carmona 12 mins

We investigate the eponymous road that stands between the Detroit and Grosse Pointe communities, as both a literal and an emotional divide.

About Julian Carmona

Born in Detroit, Julian Carmona began his filmmaking career during his time at the University of Michigan. There, he co-directed his first documentary film, Alter Road. Since then, he has worked on sports and reality shows, all in the Metro Detroit area. His most recent work (in- progress) is a documentary on Detroit’s Mexican Town community.

 

Cherish. Dir.  Adam Hirzel 2 mins

From a distance, anyone can seem charming. However, opinions may change upon closer inspection.

The Detroit Sonnets: # 65. Dir. Aaron Martin 2 mins

A dramatization of Shakespeare’s 65th sonnet, focusing on time, decay and preservation – with a Detroit twist. Produced in cooperation with Shakespeare in Detroit.

About Aaron Martin

Aaron Martin is a producer/director of narrative and documentary films. In the last year, Aaron produced The Ethanol Effect, an hour-long documentary for national PBS examining the political and economic effects of making fuel from corn, and was the producer/director of Beyond the Tap, a half-hour special on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan for PBS WORLD Channel. Aaron has also produced segments for the PBS NewsHour, SciTech Now and Local USA on subjects ranging from a deadly disease affecting bats to underwater archaeology. Aaron is dedicated to telling stories on film, using vintage 35mm and 16mm equipment that dates from the early 1920’s to the late 1960’s. He is currently at work on three short documentaries – one on the artist Scott Hocking, one on an ancient archaeological site in Ohio, and Better Things, a silent city symphony about the revival of Detroit – and The Detroit Sonnets, a series of short films produced in partnership with Shakespeare in Detroit that dramatize William Shakespeare’s poetry in modern-day Detroit. 

Akoma, Dir. Alex Gasparetto 12 mins

a post Civil War Era drama surrounding two courageous young women in a fight for love and freedom that could cost them their lives.

Alex Gasparetto

While attending The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, writer Lucie Gillespie met director Alex Gasparetto. Their mission as creative partners became to tell powerful, (and at times controversial) female-driven stories. WDIVs Local 4 Second Annual Film Challenge winner, Akomat; is no exception. Shot in the rural woods of Goodells, MI and The Henry Fords Greenfield Village with a diverse group of local talent and crew, Akoma; sparked the interest of Arab American News for a special featured article during its production phase. The film is a reminder to anyone whose faith in humanity is currently being challenged that love can most certainly drive out hate.

 

A Poem Of Glass & Steel, Dir. Ryan Clancy 5 mins

The intimate documentation of the architecture and culture of an iconic Detroit neighborhood.

About Ryan Clancy

Director Ryan Clancy is a Detroit based filmmaker and M.A. candidate in media studies at Wayne State University. His work examines how modern changes affect established cultures. 

 

The Ones Who Loved Me Are Gone. Dir. Parisa Ghaderi 1 min

Looking back at my mom’s wedding tape, I noticed how all of these people are gone for different reasons, having left a physical or emotional absence in my life.

About Parisa Ghaderi

Parisa Ghaderi (b.1983, Tehran, Iran) is a visual artist/ filmmaker; earned her MFA in Art and Design from the University of Michigan (USA) in 2014. She moved to the U.S. in 2009. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including South Asian Women Collective (Shirin Gallery, NY), the 6th International Media Arts Award (Queensland, Australia), ExperimentoBio, (Spain), A Woman house or a Roaming House? (A.I.R. Gallery, NY), Fadjr International Visual Arts Festival (Tehran, Iran), and the Red bull House of Art (Detroit, MI). Her work is featured in The Huffington Post, The Brooklyn Rail, Video Focus (France), Nineteen Sixty Nine (University of California, Berkeley), the Michigan Daily, Unite Women (online), and the Visual ARTBEAT Magazine (Austria). Ghaderi has made four short films: “Still”, “Broken Glass”, “The ones who loved me are gone”, and “One way”. Her short film “Still” has been screened at Women’s Independent Film Festival, Santa Monica, California, The International Film Festival for Documentary, Short, and Comedy, Indonesia, and CINEWEST, Sydney, Australia. “Still” won the International Award of Merit Winners, from the International Film Festival for Documentary, Short, and Comedy, Indonesia. “Broken Glass” was screened at Lady’s First International Film Festival, Cork city, Ireland. “The ones who loved me are gone” was the winner of The Berlin Flash Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, in 2017. Her films attempt to transform a painful human odyssey into a visceral experience, highlighting the gap between immigration as a set of policies and as a human condition.

 

Model No Human. Dir. Adam Cooper 11 mins

A man with a mechanical brain believes he once lived as a human. When he meets a familiar young girl, memories of his past are triggered and he fights for her life.

About Adam Cooper

Adam has been interested in filmmaking since the womb. He and his brother were given a camcorder at a young age and they never put it down. Since then, they’ve made a whole ‘lotta shorts that had good festival runs taking them to TIFF, Cannes, the Hamptons and back home to Detroit where they make their films. Model No. Human is one of those films, and was inspired by Adam’s fear of robots and artificial intelligence. When he saw the opportunity to do a “Cyberpunk Sci-Fi project with heart,” he viewed it as a way to project his paranoia onto others and make them suffer with him. In addition to suffering, Adam hopes the viewers will have an enjoyable experience and come out with a new perspective on AI. The brothers are currently developing their first feature, a Sci-Fi thriller, and are stoked to kick that into motion in the near future!

 

Road Salt, Street to Stream. Dir. Nick Hayes 6 mins

Tells the story of road salts’ massive expansion in America and how it has become one of the great threats to our fresh water systems and the great lakes.

About Nick Hayes

Nick currently lives in Detroit as a full-time producer and director. He has worked for commercial clients including GM, Google, and AAA. Beginning his career in camera, he worked in New Orleans under Michael Lohmann for 3 months, the current DP of “Nashville” on ABC. Nick has also worked under Oscar-nominated documentary director Stephen Kessler. While living in Chicago, Nick had the privilege of working under Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Cam Be during production on his upcoming documentary about renowned International artist Hebru Brantley. Nick is passionate about film as a tool to create empathy, inform, and engage people politically within their community. Road Salt | Street to Stream was the culmination of years of research by Nick Hayes into the topic and was made by possible by a partnership with Detroit Public Television.

 

Toussaint (A Short). Dir. Naeemah Stewart 9 mins

Toussaint is a young artist who fails to overcome his greatest loss and finds new meaning in his life through art.

 

Mosquito, The Bite Of Passage. Dir. Brian Vincent Rhodes & Eric Cheng 6 mins

A mother and daughter mosquito go hunting together for the first time, and the daughter is desperately trying to confess that she doesn’t like blood.

About Brian Vincent Rhodes & Eric Cheng

Brian Vincent Rhodes grew up in the industrial city of Detroit, Michigan, affectionately known as “The Motor City”. Although an acclaimed youth artist and obsessed fan of animation, Rhodes did not see an immediate future in art. Pursuing other interests, he went on to study mechanical engineering and industrial design at the University of Michigan, and designed for companies and organizations such as Apple, Chrysler and NASA. After winning a film competition while working at Apple, Rhodes pursued his first love of cinema. Rhodes now works as a storyboard, character designer and previs artist. His recent projects include storyboarding a feature film for Netflix called True Memoirs of an International Assassin starring Kevin James, lead storyboard and character designer for The Leviathan Project, a virtual reality experience that premiered at the 2016 Sundance New Frontiers Festival, and previs artist for first ever live music video “Make Me Like You” by Gwen Stefani, that premiere at the 2016 Grammys. Rhodes also is an improv actor and a 2016 Diversity Fellow of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade comedy theatre. His dream is to write and direct commercials, feature films, television and virtual reality experiences, as well as occasionally perform in them.

 

Eric Cheng was born and raised in Beijing, China. In 2009, He made his first 2D animated short The Red in the Communication University of China (CUC) . The Red gained huge popularity on the Internet due to its innovative idea and fine quality. One year later, Eric created his second animated short Happy Anniversary as his graduation project in CUC, which won the Special Award at the 2012 TOKYO Anime Award and several others. Upon his graduation from CUC, Eric was admitted to the University of Southern California (USC), School of Cinematic Art in 2012, where he completed his third animation, Higher Sky. In Higher Sky, Eric demonstrated a deep understanding of the Chinese aesthetics, as well as a unique perspective of the Chinese cultural heritage. Shortly after the release of the animation, he earned an international name through the Student Academy Award.

2016 Competition

Films are listed in order they were shown
2016 Winners

Cinetopia International Film Festival’s second Detroit Voices short film competition announced the three winning films at the close of the festival on Sunday, June 14. The brainchild of local filmmaker Sultan Sharrif and launched in 2014, Detroit Voices has helped to recognize many talented artists. In addition to the recognition from the festival, the winners also receive cash prizes made possible by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

“We know that Southeast Michigan is rich with talented directors, writers, actors and artists, each with their unique take on life in our area,” said Cinetopia Artistic Director and Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins.  “We were thrilled to be able to offer not only an outlet for those voices but also some reward for all their hard work.”

Knight Jury Prize

Five Windows

Director: Daniel and Adam Cooper

Michigan Film & Digital Media Audience Choice Award

The Supplier

Director: Brian Knight

Honorable Mention

Solitude

Writer, Producer and Actor:  Tristin Taylor

Best High School Film Award

Girls Don’t Cry Wolf

Filmmaker: John Chigas and Anna Kotzya

2016 Selections
Can’t Stop Beach Punx Directed by John Brock, short film selection, 2 minutes 10 seconds, Music Video

Puppets and classic Detroit fun punk electrify this energetic and one-of-a-kind music video from the Detroit foursome, Cabbageheads.

 Painting the Town: The Street Art of Detroit (High School Selection) Directed by William Higbie, High School selection, University Liggett Prep School, 2 min 25 sec, Documentary

Artists in Detroit are discovering new canvasses, as they work to beautify the streets through unique and exciting street art.

Foreign Film Directed by Bri Yaroch, short film selection, 2 minutes 23 seconds, Horror

A young woman’s night of studying in the library turns sinister when she begins to hear an ominous noise.

Hysteria Directed by Nicole Bowers Wallace, short film selection, 14 min 50 sec, Drama

After a tour in Iraq, Jack must face someone he suspects to be a terrorist, without allowing his traumatic memories to muddle reality.

Panthalassa Directed by Casey Follen, short film selection, 2 min 42 sec, Animated

In this beautiful and surrealistic animation, the goddess Panthalassa dives below the surface of Earth and begins a journey of magical discoveries.

1% (High School Selection) Directed by Griffin Olis, High School selection, Troy Athens High School, 6 minutes and 50 seconds, Documentary

The Great Lakes are one of Michigan’s greatest resources and beauties but as the threat against them increases, some dedicated individuals amp up their fight to save Michigan’s water.

Five Windows WINNER OF THE 1st PLACE JURY AWARD! Directed by Daniel and Adam Cooper, short film selection, 9 min 12 sec, Drama

An assassin methodically sets up his next hit, but all may not be as it seems in this nail biting thriller.

#Foodtodiefor (High School selection)

Directed by Cole WiandHigh School selection, Detroit Country Day School, 1 min 43 sec, Comedy

This dark comedy asks the question: in a world of cell phones and Instagram posts, what are we sacrificing in order to be consumed by social media?

Limbs (High School Selection)

Directed by Richie Unger, High School selection, Seaholm High School, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, Drama/Stop Motion

Inclusion and exclusion is explored in a highly unique fashion: via stop-motion Barbie dolls.

Girls Don’t Cry Wolf (High School Selection) WINNER OF THE MOST PROMISING STUDENT AWARD!

Directed by Madison Douglas, High School selection, Interlochen Arts Academy, 4 minutes and 12 seconds, Music Video

This triumphant music video will leave you singing the message of female empowerment as it shines the light on the issues of young women and sexual assault.

Moving Pictures (High School Selection)

Directed by Brendan Streelman, High School selection, Byron Center High School, 2 min 25 seconds, Experimental

The subtle tapestry of the Michigan landscape is explored and showcased in this simple yet profound experimental film.

The Supplier

Directed by Brian Knight, short film selection, 21 min 14 sec, Drama

Straight-laced law student Taylor must reconsider her beliefs on the drug war when she is faced with an old flame.

2016 Rules & Regulations

Detroit Voices 2016 Rules and Regulations:

  1. Films must be made by Michigan Filmmakers
  2. Films must either be shot in southeast Michigan OR feature a story about Michigan and/or Michigan and/or Michigan characters
  3. Films are not required to come exclusively from Detroit, though films from Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb counties will be given priority.
  4. All submissions must only contain content owned by the submitting team.
  5. Films with unlicensed music or visuals cannot be played at the festival.
  6. Cinetopia reserves the right to use clips from the film and images submitted with the film for marketing and promotional purposes.
  7. The filmmaker or a representative for the filmmaking team must be in attendance at the festival to be considered for the awards.
  8. Detroit Voices is primarily a shorts program though feature films may be submitted and will be reviewed if time and resources allow. Feature films are not in competition for the prizes but could receive a screening honorarium if chosen.
  9. Films more than 30 minutes in length will not be considered for the shorts program.
  10. Cinetopia reserves the right to reject any material that is discriminatory in nature.

2015 Competition

Films are listed in order they were shown
2015 Winners

Cinetopia International Film Festival’s second Detroit Voices short film competition announced the three winning films at the close of the festival on Sunday, June 14. The brainchild of local filmmaker Sultan Sharrif and launched in 2014, Detroit Voices has helped to recognize many talented artists. In addition to the recognition from the festival, the winners also receive cash prizes made possible by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Pure Michigan Film Office.

“We know that Southeast Michigan is rich with talented directors, writers, actors and artists, each with their unique take on life in our area,” said Cinetopia Artistic Director and Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins.  “We were thrilled to be able to offer not only an outlet for those voices but also some reward for all their hard work.”

Knight Jury Prize
Wait ’til the Wolves Make Nice
Director: Jess Dela Merced

Michigan Film & Digital Media Audience Choice Award
Within
Director: Robert Joseph Butler

Honorable Mention
Solitude
Writer, Producer and Actor:  Tristin Taylor

Best High School Film Award
The Joan Rose Foundation; Moving to Haiti
Filmmaker: Griffin Olis

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the entry fee?
$25.
Will I get the DVDs or Blu-Rays back?
Unfortunately no, DVDs or Blu-Rays will not be returned.
Can I send a copy of my film?

Yes. After submitting online through Withoutabox, you can mail us your DVDs or Blu-Rays as soon as possible to:

Cinetopia International Film Festival
Attn: Selection Committee
1401 Vermont
Detroit, MI  48216 #196

If my film is selected for exhibition, what formats must my film be available in?
All feature films submitted must be available for exhibition in one of the following formats: DCP (preferably unencrypted) or as an approved ProRes digital file. The Cinetopia staff will format the films to fit these requirements.
How and when will I be notified if my film was accepted?
You will be notified by email whether your film has been selected for exhibition at Cinetopia International Film Festival. We will try to let you know as soon as possible whether your film made it or not, but please be patient as our selection process does take time.
Can I get feedback about my film?
Yes! Each Selection Committee member offers comments about every film they watch. If you would like to see your comments, please wait until after our festival ends (June 11, 2017) and contact our Detroit Voices Coordinator, Jamila Taylor, at detroitvoices@cinetopiafestival.org.
How do I know that you received my submission?

If submitting through Withoutabox, please check your account after submitting to make sure that your submission meets our requirements and has been accepted for consideration.

If your Withoutabox submission has a BLUE dot with a checkmark: We have received your online submission, your DVD or Blu-ray, and your submission has met all our requirements.

If your Withoutabox submission has a YELLOW dot: Your submission has only partially met our requirements and is considered an INCOMPLETE SUBMISSION. We may have received your online submission but no payment. Please contact our Detroit Voices Coordinator, Jamila Taylor, at detroitvoices@cinetopiafestival.org to see what is needed to move your submission into consideration.

If your Withoutabox submission has a RED circle: We have not successfully received your submission. If you submitted online and it’s been more than 10 days, please contact us.

Can I get the submission fee waived?
The Cinetopia International Film Festival is a program within the nonprofit Michigan Theater Foundation. Fees collected through the Call for Entries process assist in our operations. Entry fee payment is required; exceptions will NOT be made, so please, do not request a waiver.
What genres do you accept?
All genres! Narrative, Documentary, Animation, and even New Media content!

The sixth annual Cinetopia Film Festival was made possible with the generous support of title sponsors Michigan Medicine and the Knight Foundation and presenting sponsors the Ford Motor Company Fund, Comerica Bank, and Masco Foundation.

Media support was made possible by Detroit Public Television, WXYZ Detroit, WDET, WEMU, Metro Times, Hour Detroit, ann arbor’s 107one, MLive/Ann Arbor News, Detroit Jewish News, Michigan Public Radio, Pride Source, and the Ann Arbor Observer.

Further important support of the Festival was provided by Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Dickinson Wright, the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, Domino’s, Whole Foods Market, Sesi Lincoln, Stroh’s, Kerrytown District Association, State Street District, and these departments at the University of Michigan: Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Center for Japanese Studies, International Institute, the Confucius Institute.