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Cinema Chat: Nevertheless Film Festival, 'Waiting For The Barbarians,' 'The Tobacconist,' And More

Michigan Theater
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It won't be long before the Michigan Theater opens its doors again, but this week's films should satisfy your cinematic craving.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest films you can watch by logging on to the Michigan Theater's Virtual Movie Palace.


Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday between 5-7 PM (order by 3pm day of). 

Due to weekend street closures, Friday pick-up has been moved to E. Washington, and Saturday is walk-up only on E. Liberty.  An expanded selection of Michigan and State merch now available!


"Waiting for the Barbarians"

From Director Ciro Guerra ("Embraacing the Serpent," "Birds of Passage") and starring Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, and Robert Pattinson.  The Magistrate (Mark Rylance) of an isolated frontier settlement on the border of an unnamed empire looks forward to an easy retirement until the arrival of Colonel Joll (Johnny Depp), whose task it is to report on the activities of the "barbarians" and on the security situation on the border.  Joll conducts a series of ruthless interrogations, which leads the Magistrate to question his loyalty to the empire.  Adapted by Nobel Prize-winning authorJ.M. Coetzee from his own book. 

"Guest of Honour"

Jim (David Thewlis) and his daughter Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira), a high school music teacher, attempt to unravel their complicated histories and intertwined secrets.  After a hoax goes very wrong, Jim’s daughter is falsely convicted for abusing her position of authority over 17-year-old Clive (Alexandre Bourgeois).  Veronica is nevertheless convinced she deserves to be punished, but for much earlier crimes.  Confused and frustrated by Veronica’s intransigence, Jim’s anguish begins to impinge on his job as a food inspector.  He wields great power over small family-owned restaurants; a power he doesn’t hesitate to use. Veronica confides the secrets of her past to Father Greg (Luke Wilson), who may hold the final piece of this father-daughter puzzle.

"We Are Little Zombies"

When four young orphans first meet, their parents’ bodies are being turned into dust, and yet none of them can shed a tear.  They are like zombies; devoid of all emotion.  With no family, no future, and no way to move forward, the young teens decide to start a rock band… and conquer the world.  Tragedy, comedy, music, social criticism, and teenage angst are all subsumed in this eccentric cinematic tsunami.

"The Tobacconist"

Part of Cinetopia-AAJFF's A Summer of Film series.  A tender, heartbreaking story about one young man and his friendship with Sigmund Freud during the Nazi occupation of Vienna.  Stars Bruno Ganz as Freud.


Arab Film Series Online

This Sunday at 3 PM, join a FREE screening of the short documentary "The Bleaching Syndrome" (2018), including a post-film talkback with director Eiman Mirghani and other guests.

Nevertheless Film Festival

Originally scheduled to play at the Michigan Theater, the Nevertheless Film Festival has gone virtual!  Called “the first of its kind,” due to its requirement that all films have at least 50% womxn in leadership roles behind the camera, the festival includes six features and 20 short films.  July 9 (today)-12, available across the US.

Cocktail (Wine This Week) Cinema -- TUESDAY, JULY 14 7:00-8:30 PM

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 "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "What We Do in the Shadows" 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, July 14 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.


"John Lewis: Good Trouble"

Using interviews and rare archival footage, this film chroniclesLewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. 

“Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things”

Tracing the story of Ella Fitzgerald’s life, this documentary film explores how her music became a soundtrack for a tumultuous century.

"Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba"

Miriam Makeba was one of the first African musicians who won international stardom and whose music was always anchored in her traditional South African roots.  Mika Kaurismäki’s documentary traces fifty years of her music and her performing life.  Through rare archive footage of her performances and through interviews with her contemporaries.

"Mr. Topaze"

A curiosity for cinephiles!  Newly restored from the last surviving 35mm prints, this film is the lone directorial effort from comedy icon Peter Sellers. Sellers’ first and only credited directorial feature, the film displays the British comic genius at the peak of his powers alongside his future Pink Panther nemesis Herbert Lom and a stellar supporting cast that includes Nadia GrayLeo McKernBillie Whitelaw, and Michael Gough.  Long considered a “lost” classic, the film was digitally restored at the request of the British public from the last known surviving 35mm prints held in the BFI National Archive

"Denise Ho: Becoming The Song"

In Sue Williams’ uplifting documentary, the filmmaker chronicles Denise Ho’s career from pop star to activist and the parallels to Hong Kong, a city in constant transformation.  In 2014, at the height of her career, she started to publicly support the students who were demanding free elections during the Umbrella Movement (protesters held up umbrellas to fight off tear gas).  This led to her arrest and, worse, being blacklisted by Mainland China and her music banned. Recently, she addressed both the United Nations and the US Congress, pleading for international help and making it clear that Hong Kong’s struggle is a universal fight for freedom and democracy.

"Love In Suspenders"

Part of Cinetopia-AAJFF's A Summer of Film series.  When absent-minded widow Tami accidentally hits 70-year-old widower Beno with her car, the last thing on her mind is love and romance.  But will their budding relationship survive the scrutiny of their children?

"Ursula Von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own"

An artistic biography of one of the few women in the world working in monumental sculpture, this is the story of Ursula's struggle to overcome the hardship of her upbringing and to become an artist.

“One Small Step Shorts”

Embark on a roller coaster of imagination and possibility in this https://vimeo.com/shortstv" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(22, 141, 217); line-height: inherit; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;">ShortsTV-presented compilation of twelve new and acclaimed, family-friendly animation short films.


Presented by the Cinetopia Film Festival and Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival.  Director Boaz Yakin’s dreamy film, with choreography from a former member of Israeli dance company Batsheva Dance Company, tells a story that is timeless, universal, and yet up-to-the-moment.

“Pioneers of Queer Cinema”

Celebrate Pride Month with this newly restored trio of classics from the early days of queer cinema, each far ahead of its time.  Rent each film separately, or purchase a pass for all three for $15.00!

Quarantine Cat Film Festival

This compilation reel from over 1,200 submissions brings together the cutest, funniest, bravest and most loving of these videos, exclusively filmed during the pandemic.  The purpose of this festival is to raise money for independent movie theaters, with the help of everyone’s cats.


Renowned horror writer Shirley Jackson (Elizabeth Moss) is on the precipice of writing her masterpiece when the arrival of newlyweds upends her meticulous routine and heightens tensions in her already tempestuous relationship with her philandering husband.  The middle-aged couple, prone to ruthless barbs and copious afternoon cocktails, begins to toy mercilessly with the naïve young couple at their door.


    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

    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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