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Cinema Chat: 'The Mindfulness Movement,' 'The Motions Of Stillness,' 'Abe,' And More

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater

Movie theaters across the land are getting closer to reopening, but you still enjoy a good flick at home.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks with Russ Collins about the newest films and special online events coming your way from the Michigan Theater's Virtual Online Palace. 


Order online and get your favorite Michigan Theater concessions safely via curbside pick-up under the marquee!  Orders must be submitted before 3:00 PM the day of pick-up.  Go to “michtheater.org


"The Mindfulness Movement"

How mindfulness – the state of focusing on the present moment without judgment – is the key to creating a healthier and happier world.

This is a feature documentary that examines the growing number of people throughout society who believe mindfulness – a peaceful quality of attention anyone can develop by simply focusing on the present moment in a non-judgmental way – is the key to creating a healthier, happier world.  Filmmaker Rob Beemer examines this practice provide a way for anyone to make more moments matter in their lives and to help create a more compassionate, caring, and ethical society.  The film follows the emotionally compelling stories of four main characters (Jewel, Dan Harris, Sharon Salzberg, and George Mumford), who reveal their personal hardships and explain how mindfulness transformed their lives.

The Mindfulness Movement Q&A – Join us for a LIVE Q&A on Zoom with filmmaker Rob Beemer on June 4 at 7:00 PM.  Go to the Michigan Theater website for the Q&A.

"The Motions of Stillness" -- AN MTF ORIGINAL

Friday, May 29, 7:00 PM, Sunday, May 31, 3:00 PM, Thursday, June 4, 7:00 PM

Watch this original film from Jared Van Eck, Michigan Theater Technical Director, and local musician.  Inspired by the snowfall in March and isolation due to the pandemic, this film aims to encourage the viewer to still themselves, focus on deep breaths, and reflect on the simple beauty of falling snow.

All footage was shot on April 15, 2020, in a downtown nature preserve on a cold snowy day in Ann Arbor, MI – 24 days into our COVID-19 stay-at-home order.  During this time in which our old normal continues to disappear and we must all embrace this current unknown. The filmmaker hopes this film brings its viewers a peaceful meditation space.  By slowing down shots and blending in an original electronic score with nature’s natural sounds, my aim is to encourage the viewer to equally still them self, focus on deep breaths, and reflect on the simple beauty of falling snow.

Meet the Artist

Jared Van Eck is an electronic musician in Ann Arbor, MI, who creates under the name microluv.  From an early age, Jared’s interest in the organic and human produced sounds of the world around him developed an unwavering curiosity for synthesizers and synthesizer-like instruments.  Currently, his iPad and hardware and software instruments such as Elektron, Roland, and Moog, serve as his main composing tools. His ever-growing collection of vinyl, especially titles from the obscure world of Italian library music of the 70s, fuel his experimentation and creativity.  In 2017, Jared debuted an original electronic score to the 1927 German silent science-fiction film "Metropolis" at the Michigan Theater.  This performance marked one of the first times that a MIDI controller was used in conjunction with a Barton organ (considered a “Heritage Instrument” by the American Theatre Organ Society).  The soundtrack for his most recent project, "The Motions of Stillness," was created entirely on his iPad using the apps Cubasis and Korg Gadget. “I think it is amazing how polished the sound quality is out of the iPad software.  I was able to produce sounds that were not possible from computers 20 years ago!  Plus, it’s portable, which really makes me feel like my creative space is unlimited.  Amazing!”

When not composing, record digging, or sampling sounds of the outdoors, Jared works as the Technical Director for the Michigan Theater Foundation and is a member of IATSE Local 395.


Presented by the Cinetopia Film Festival, Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival & Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center

Twelve-year-old Abe is an aspiring chef, but his family–half-Israeli, half-Palestinian–have never had a meal together without a fight.  But when Abe ditches his traditional summer camp to spend time with radical street chef Chico, his mentor’s fusion cuisine inspires him to unite his family through food.  Abe decides to cook a meal that will bring everyone to the table, but he’s about to learn that the kitchen can’t heal some age-old divides.

"Lucky Grandma"

Set in New York City, an ornery, chain-smoking Chinese Grandma (a standout performance by "The Joy Luck Club’s" Tsai Chin) goes all in at the casino, landing herself on the wrong side of luck and in the middle of a Chinatown gang war.


Killer whales are beloved, majestic, friendly giants, yet infamous for their capacity to kill viciously.  This film unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of the notorious performing whale Tilikum, who – unlike any orca in the wild – has taken the lives of several people while in captivity.  The film expands on the discussion of keeping such intelligent creatures in captivity.


"The Cabin in the Woods"

Saturday Night At 9:00 Watch Party!  Hosted by Michigan Theater film programmer Nick Alderink

Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods.  Bad things happen.  If you think you know this story, think again.  From fan favoritesJoss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes a mind blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out.

Cocktail Cinema -- TUESDAY, JUNE 2 ON ZOOM

Like cocktails?  Like to talk about classic movies?  Hosted by Russ Collins, Deb Polich, and Alan Collins

This Premium Tuesday cocktail party will celebrate classic films from the 1970s!  Russ and Deb will join you, with cocktails mixed by Alan Collins, Bar Artist and Sommelier for Paesano Restaurant, broadcasting via Zoom from the wonderful Art Deco lobby of the State Theatre.

Admission is FREE for all members and non-members, but you must sign up in advance.  May your spirits be lifted as you watch the films and, then on Tuesday, lift the spirits in your cocktail glass and join in on the lively discussion!  Participating in Cocktail Cinema is easy and fun!

  • Step 1 – Watch "What’s Up Doc?" (1972) and "High Anxiety" (1977) on your own time, convenient to your schedule, before the Tuesday’s start of Cocktail Cinema.  Both films are available to rent online.
  • Step 2 – RSVP online via Zoom.
  • Step 3 – On Tuesday, June 2 at 7:00 PM, mix up classic cocktails in your own home and be open to discussing these film classics with Russ and Deb.  Dressing up is like the era is encouraged but not required!  Want to just join the discussion?  Pop into the Zoom call between 7:30-8:30 PM.

About Our Hosts

Russ Collins is the long-time Executive Director of the Michigan and State Theaters.  Deb Polich is the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance and Artrain.

Movies 101 With EMU Professor Emeritus Dr. Henry Aldridge

Motion pictures have their own special language that enables them to communicate action, ideas, and emotions.  Each 1-hour virtual session will look closely at four basic linguistic tools that most films use.  Instructor Dr. Henry Aldridge is an Emeritus Professor of Film Studies at Eastern Michigan University, as well as an active volunteer at the Michigan Theater.  He is the author of the Michigan Theater Book.

Movies 101: Editing – currently available

Movies 101: Narrative Structure – currently available

Movies 101: Sound – currently available

Movies 101: Mise-en-Scene– coming May 24


"Life in Synchro"

A fun documentary and a film festival favorite with a terrific local angle – Ann Arbor’s “Hockettes” were THE first Synchronized skating teams – and are extensively mentioned in the film.  In 1956, the first synchronized skating team was formed by Dr. Richard Porter, who became known as the 'father of synchronized skating.'  The 'Hockettes' skated out of Ann Arbor, MI and entertained spectators during intermissions of the University of Michigan Hockey Team.  In the early days, precision skating (now called Synchronized) resembled a drill team routine, or a precision dance company such as The Rockettes.  Angela Pinaglia’s film follows a contemporary skating season from a young Team USA skater with big dreams, to a 65-year-old amateur skater embracing this next chapter of life with her team, to a woman who was on the first synchro team back in 1956, who is now trying to get the founder of synchro, the credit he deserves for creating the sport that gave her so much, the film interweaves each woman’s vastly different journeys, from all around the U.S., as they and these determined teams are out to prove the staying power of synchro.

"Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy"

Featuring extensive interviews with Diana Kennedy and famed chefs José Andrés, Rick Bayless, Gabriela Camara, and Alice Waters, this film provides an intimate look at the leading expert on Mexican cuisine.  The author of nine acclaimed cookbooks and a two-time James Beard Award winner, Diana is called the “Julia Child of Mexico”, but the feisty cook prefers “The Mick Jagger of Mexican Cuisine.”

"Up from the Streets: New Orleans - The City of Music"

A film looking at the culture of New Orleans thru the lens of music.  Hosted by Oscar nominee and 6-time Grammy Winner Terence Blanchard.  The film tells the story of how music and culture intersected to create a distinct form of expression.  This is a feature length documentary that looks at the culture, especially the music culture of New Orleans.  New Orleans has a distinct history as a result of its political and social history.  The film features archival and newly filmed performances by iconic artists, such as Louis ArmstrongMahalia Jackson, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and The Neville Brothers; and interviews with NOLA musicians Branford MarsalisWynton MarsalisHarry Connick Jr., and more, as well commentary from Keith RichardsRobert PlantSting, and Bonnie Raitt, among others.  

$1 from your ticket purchase will be donated to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation COVID-19 relief fund.

"Military Wives"

Following a group of women in England whose partners are away serving in Afghanistan.  Faced with the men’s absences, they form a choir and quickly find themselves at the center of a media sensation and global movement.  Inspired by global phenomenon of Military Wives choirs, the story celebrates a band of misfit women who form a choir on a military base.


When a world-famous conductor tries to create an Israeli-Palestinian orchestra, it takes all his skill and resources to overcome the discord and get them to play in harmony, rising to a tense and emotional finale.

"Life Itself"

Filmmaker Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") chronicles the life of film critic Roger Ebert, especially his career highlights, his battle with alcohol, and his sometimes ruthless rivalry with fellow criticGene Siskel.


Kathy (Golden Globe Nominee Hong Chau), a single mother, travels with her shy eight-year-old son Cody (newcomer Lucas Jaye), to Kathy’s late sister’s house which they plan to clean and sell.  As Kathy realizes how little she knew about her sister, Cody develops an unlikely friendship with Del (Golden Globe, Tony winner and longtime acting legend Brian Dennehy), the Korean War vet and widower who lives next door.  Over the course of a summer and with Del’s encouragement, Cody develops the courage to come out of his shell and, along with his mother, finds a new place to call home.


Arab Film Series Online: Arab World Shorts Program

Emerging from the Arab Film Festival, the Arab Film Series Online brings a wide range of new and classic films each week for free.

National Theatre at Home

Join us every Thursday for much-loved National Theatre Live productions, free to stream on YouTube for seven days!  Enjoy world-class theatre online while they are unfortunately closed.  For more information, visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home.  

Penny Stamps Lecture Series

The series continues online with video presentations as allowed by special arrangement with the speakers: check out the latest presentations below.  In a new partnership designed to keep the community curious, engaged, and connected, the entire Penny Stamps Speaker Series video archive is also available to stream online through Detroit Public Television.  DPTV will also livestream select Penny Stamps Speaker Series events Fridays at 8 PM.  For more information, visit stamps.umich.edu/stamps.  

Met Opera Streams

During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark.  Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 PM until 6:30 PM the following day.  The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.  

Theatreworks Anywhere

TheaterWorks Anywhere aims to give young people a fun and active way to use their imaginations while learning the process of creating theater and adapting a book or story for the stage.  We’ll show you video clips from TheaterWorksUSA productions, take you behind the scenes with our artists, and provide theater activities and crafts for you to make and share with us!  For this content, visit the TheaterWorks Anywhere site at twusa.org/shows-artists/on-tour/anywhere.

For more information on virtual screenings and content available, visit michtheater.org/screenings.  Stay safe.  Stay strong.

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— 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

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