The best thing about attending a film festival is that, in a relatively short space of time, you can immerse yourself in the cultures and viewpoints of people from all around the world. Whether it’s a narrative or documentary film, you can laugh, cry, and gasp along with people you will probably never meet, but share their experiences and come out of the darkened theater more knowledgeable and, ideally, entertained.

Cinetopia’s goal each year is to bring the best films from the world’s best film festivals back to Ann Arbor and the Detroit area. Attending Cinetopia should be like attending Cannes, Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca, all without leaving southeastern Michigan. This year we have more than 60 films, from countries as diverse as Serbia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia, and Vietnam.

Opening night on Friday, May 10th at the Michigan Theater will feature Before You Know It, a comedy written and directed by (and also starring) Hannah Pearl Utt, who will be in attendance alongside co-star and co-writer Jen Tullock. The film concerns two sisters living with their eccentric father (Mandy Patinkin) above the tiny theater they own and operate, who find out that their presumed-deceased mother is alive and well and starring in a soap opera. Cinetopia lead programmer Nick Alderink calls the film “A compelling and original comedy about family, connection, maturation and grief.”

Our Opening Night Party will take place before the film, and is available for purchase along with the film admission, but is always free to VIP, Festival, and 1st Weekend passholders. After the film, Hannah Pearl Utt and Jen Tullock will take part in a Q&A and will take questions from the audience.

Screenshot from Autonomy - view from within an autonomous car

Closing the festival on Sunday, May 19th in Ann Arbor will be a Midwest premiere of the documentary Autonomy, a cinematic exploration of the world of automated vehicles. The film examines the present and future of autonomous technology and its place in modern society, featuring interviews with industry pioneers and narrated by Malcolm Gladwell. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Eddie Alterman, Chief Brand Office of Hearst Autos, and director Alex Horwitz.

After the Q&A, the Closing Night Party will take place off-site at Mcity, the world’s first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that are expected to lead the way to mass-market driver-less cars. You can purchase tickets just for the party, or for the film and party combined, and as always it is free for VIP, Festival, and 2nd Weekend passholders.

In between, get ready for ten days of drama, action, romance, and ideas. Perhaps you’d be interested in Bite Me, a subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her? Or maybe you like the look of The Map To Paradise, a documentary about the birth of the movement to protect the ocean. There’s Well Groomed, about the world of competitive dog grooming; Them That Follow, which takes place inside a snake-handling church deep in Appalachia and stars Oscar-winner Olivia Colman; Mr Jimmy, a documentary about a Japanese guitarist who dedicates his life to honoring rock musician Jimmy Page; or perhaps Complicity, wherein a Chinese illegal immigrant in Japan fakes his identity and lands an apprenticeship with a master soba chef.

Cinetopia is also partnering this year with the Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival, which will feature such films as Budapest Noir, a detective thriller set in 1930s Hungary; Remember Baghdad, an unmissable insight into how Iraq developed through the eyes of the Jews; Shoelaces, which tells the story of a complicated relationship between an aging father and his special-needs son; and The Ancient Law, a new digital restoration of this lost gem from the silent era with a live accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Alicia Svigals.

With other special events throughout the festival—the Detroit Voices short film competition on May 16th at the Senate Theater; a special Arab American Film Festival screening of Dayla’s Other Country and Iftar dinner on May 11th in Dearborn—this year’s Cinetopia festival has something for everyone.

If you want to immerse yourself in the full festival, we have a selection of passes that give you access to a range of events, plus all the films you can watch. If you’d rather pick and choose, maybe browse the film lineup and then buy a 4-pack of ticket vouchers that can be redeemed across the 10 days.