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Cinema Chat: 'Wilson,' 'Neruda,' 'Rings,' 'The Comedian' And More

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WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater executive director and CEO Russ Collins discuss this weekend's feature movie offerings.  Additionally, listen for announcement of of a significant award presentation given the leader of Ann Arbor's movie palace! 

Leaders in Indie Cinema Exhibition Honored at Art House Convergence

The Art House Convergence, presented in participation with the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival, celebrated its 10th anniversary by bestowing for two prestigious awards at its annual conference in Midway, Utah.  Founding Director Russ Collins was honored with the newly established Founders Award.  Indie film icon Ira Deutchman received the inaugural Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Russ Collins Distinguished Service Award recognizes an outstanding individual working in community-based, mission driven cinema exhibition who has contributed to their local community and/or to the national Art House community in significant and innovative ways. 

The intent of the award is to highlight and celebrate the impact of individuals who have effectively bolstered their local community’s film culture and contributed to the growth of the national community of independent cinema exhibitors.  Russ Collins was the surprised first recipient of what will be an annual award named in his honor. 

Collins was praised for his vision as the key founder of the Art House Convergence and his dedicated work to promote its growth.  Additionally, he was recognized for his long serving and effective career in theatrical cinema exhibition.  For over 30 years, Collins has been the Executive Director of the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

Ira Deutchman Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award

Indie films icon Ira Deutchman received the inaugural Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his service and accomplishments in a 40-years-plus career devoted to making, distributing, and exhibiting independent films.  The award was created by Spotlight Cinema Networks in partnership with the Art House Convergence.

Movies with which Deutchman is inextricably associated include Gus van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho,” Robert Altman’s “The Player,” Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense,” Steve James’ “Hoop Dreams,” and Sarah Kernochan’s “All I Wanna Do;” these a mere few of the nearly 100 films he has produced, acquired and released as a marketing and distribution executive.

About the Art House Convergence

The Art House Convergence began in 2006 when the Sundance Institute invited 14 Art House theaters to the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. By 2008, the theaters decided to meet annually in Utah. Since then this annual conference, held annually in Utah, just before the start of the Sundance Film Festival, has grown to serve over 600 conference attendees and expanded its programs to include regional seminars, industry events, and other programs throughout the year.

"Wilson" Comes Direct from Sundance to Ann Arbor!

The Michigan Theater and Cinetopia are thrilled to carry on the tradition of “Direct from Sundance” with an exclusive Midwest premiere of "Wilson," selected from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival!  Woody Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic, and hilariously honest misanthropic dog lover who reunites with his estranged wife (Laura Dern) and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter he’s never met.  In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, Wilson sets out to connect with her in what could be his last chance at having a family.  "Wilson" plays Friday, February 3 at 8 PM.  Get your tickets now!

Opening Downtown


An inspector (Gael Garcia Bernal) hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his home country in the late 1940s for joining the Communist Party.  A.O. Scott of the New York Times writes “For anyone who believes that poetry and democracy spring from the same source and provoke the same enemies, 'Neruda' provides both encouragement and warning.”  “Neruda” opens Sunday.

Continuing Downtown

"La La Land"

This film tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.  “La La Land” is nominated for 14 Academy Awards.

"Manchester by the Sea"

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised.  "Manchester by the Sea" is nominated for six Academy Awards.


This is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman).  The film places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination.  Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband's legacy and the world of "Camelot" that they created and loved so well.  Also starring Peter SarsgaardGreta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup.  "Jackie" is nominated for three Academy Awards.

Special Screenings Downtown

"A Colt is My Passport"

A hitman’s work is never done.  Joe Shishido stars as a hard-boiled yakuza caught between rival gangs.  With his trusty sidekick in tow, the two must shoot their way out if they want to live to fight another day.  Complete with a stunning spaghetti western-influenced soundtrack, director Takashi Nomura’s film has been hailed as one of “Japanese cinema’s supreme emulations of American noir.”  "A Colt Is My Passport" plays Monday at 7 PM.  Part of the Kuro: The Dark Edge of Filmmaking film series.

Opening at the Multiplex

"The Comedian"

A rom/com about an aging comic icon, Jackie (Robert De Niro) who has seen better days.  Despite his efforts to reinvent himself and his comic genius, the audience only wants to know him as the former television character he once played.  Already a strain on his younger brother (Danny DeVito) and his wife (Patti LuPone), Jackie is forced to serve out a sentence doing community service for accosting an audience member.  While there, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), the daughter of a sleazy Florida real estate mogul (Harvey Keitel), and the two find inspiration in one another resulting in surprising consequences.


This film marks a new chapter in the beloved RING horror franchise.  A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it.  She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery:  there is a "movie within the movie" that no one has ever seen before...  “Rings” opens Friday.

"The Space Between Us"

In the interplanetary adventure, shortly after arriving to help colonize Mars, an astronaut dies while giving birth to the first human born on the red planet - never revealing who the father is.  Thus begins the extraordinary life of Gardner Elliot - an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who reaches the age of 16 having only met 14 people in his very unconventional upbringing.  “The Space Between Us” opens Friday.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

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