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Cinema Chat: 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 'The Red Turtle,' 'Breathless,' 'Power Rangers,' And More

WEMU's Spring Pledge Drive ended with a bang, so let's celebrate with some movies!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and the films available to you this weekend.  

The 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival

The 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival continues!  The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America, founded by George Manupelli in 1963.  Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for independent filmmakers and artists, the 55th Festival will feature more than 180 films, videos (many of the films/videos in short format) and live performances.  Weekend highlights include animated films in competition; films by Jay Rosenblatt and Thorsten Trimpop; live performances by Pat Oleszko and Simon Tarr; and many more.  The 55th AAFF continues through March 26.  Visit www.aafilmfest.org for details.

Opening Downtown

"The Red Turtle"

This film recounts the milestones in the life of a human being through the story of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds.  Joe McGovern of Entertainment Weekly writes “the story charts nothing less than the circle of life.  And it invites us — as in, anyone who’s ever felt stranded — to consider our little spot in the world.  Lavish with stunning imagery, the experience will ripple into your dreams.”  “The Red Turtle” opens Monday, March 27.

Special Screenings Downtown


This spring, Cinetopia Film Festival and Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater will celebrate the glory days of Art House cinemas with a new film series: Cinema Revolution: Independent Films That Defined a Genre.  The eleven film series captures the spirit of cinematic revolution—a revolution that disrupted the Hollywood Studio system, created contemporary foreign film culture and brought to light visionary American directors and new generations of cinematic voices.  The series kicks off with Jean-LucGodard’s French New Wave classic, “Breathless.”  A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.  “Breathless” was Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature-length work (with a screenplay written from an original treatment by Francois Truffaut) and represented Jean-PaulBelmondo’s breakthrough as an actor.  “Breathless” plays Monday, March 27 at 7 PM.



4/3 - 7:00 – Fellini’s Satyricon(1969 – Italian Art House classic)

4/10 - 7:00 – Putney Swope (1969 – seminal American underground film)


4/17 - 4:30 – Citizen Kane (1941 – Art cinema icon of Hollywood days)

4/17 - 7:00 – Day For Night (1973 – Nouvelle Vauge’s influences & influence)

4/24 - 7:00 – A Woman Under The Influence (1974 - John Cassavetes, American’s seminal Independent)

5/1 - 7:00 – Harlan County, USA (1976 Barbara Kopple’s documentaries your parents wouldn’t see – but should have!)


5/8 - 7:00 – The Brother from Another Planet(1984 – John Sayles; connection to the Archive – Art House shining moment)

5/15 - 7:00 –A Room with a View (1985 – James Ivory – Ideal Art House shining moment)

5/22 - 7:00 – My Own Private Idaho  (1991 - Gus Van Sant – youth oriented Art House shining moment)

5/29 - 7:00 – The Player (1993 - Robert Altman; Archive connection– Hollywood’s shallow side and Art House shining moment)

"The Red Violin"

The Science on Screen series is back.  The intricate history of a beautiful antique violin is traced from its creation in Cremona, Italy, in 1681, to an auction house in modern-day Montreal, where it draws the eye of an expert appraiser (Samuel L. Jackson).  The film will be followed by a brief presentation by Sile O’Modhrian, Professor of Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. “The Red Violin” plays Tuesday, March 28 at 7 PM.

Continuing Downtown


The documentary explores the lives of hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats, who roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely.  For thousands of years, they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame — and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could.  “Kedi” continues at the Michigan.

"I Am Not Your Negro"

A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.  In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House.  The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript.  Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.  The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and flood of rich archival material.  “I Am Not Your Negro” continues at the Michigan.

Opening at the Multiplex


This tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars.  As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.  Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, “Life” opens Friday.


Dax Shepard and Michael Pena star in the action comedy based on the popular ‘70s television series.  Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Pena) have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) but for very different reasons.  The inexperienced rookie and the hardened pro are teamed together but clash more than click, so kickstarting a partnership is easier said than done.  But with Baker’s bike skills combined with Ponch’s street savvy, it just might work… if they don’t drive each other crazy along the way.  “CHiPs” opens Friday.

"Power Rangers"

A modern reinvention of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a group of ordinary high school kids who find themselves infused with extraterrestrial powers and must harness those powers as a team to save the world.  “Power Rangers” opens Friday.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU todayto keep your community NPR station thriving.

— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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