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Cinema Chat: Chadwick Boseman Remembered, 'Represent,' 'Midnight Traveler,' And More

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater

In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the current state of Michigan's movie theaters and the new films you can check out online this Labor Day weekend.  Plus, they take a moment to remember actor Chadwick Boseman, star of such films as "42" and "Black Panther."


"Represent"– Opens Friday, September 4

Equal parts personal and political, this film follows three women (one from Detroit, Michigan) on both sides of the aisle who share the singular goal of improving their community through public service.  Myya attempts to spark a youth movement and unseat the incumbent mayor of Detroit; Bryn, a farmer and working mother in Granville, Ohio, runs for township trustee; and Julie walks a tightrope between her identities as a Korean immigrant and Republican candidate for State Representative in a liberal Chicago suburb.

"Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chadwin"– Opens Friday, September 4

Werner Herzog turns the camera on himself and his decades-long friendship with the late travel writer Bruce Chatwin, a kindred spirit whose quest for ecstatic truth carried him to all corners of the globe.  Herzog’s deeply personal portrait of Chatwin, illustrated with archival discoveries, film clips, and a mound of “brontosaurus skin,” encompasses their shared interest in aboriginal cultures, ancient rituals, and the mysteries stitching together life on earth.

"Midnight Traveler"– Opens Friday, September 4

When the Taliban puts a bounty on Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two daughters. Capturing the journey, Fazili shows the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.

"Made in Bangladesh"

Shimu fled her village as a child when her stepmother threatened to marry her off to a middle-aged man.  Now 23 and living in the capital, she works grueling hours for paltry sums at a textile factory while her husband searches for work.  After a fire in the factory results in the death of a co-worker, Shimu is approached by a union advocate who provides her with a crash course in women workers’ rights — and the tools to enforce them.  But Shimu’s attempt to unionize her workplace is met with resistance at every turn, not only from her patriarchal employers, who openly threaten her, but also her colleagues, who are desperate to keep their jobs in a world where options for survival are few.  In her struggle to make her world a fairer place, Shimu discovers within herself reserves of courage and tenacity, along with a galvanizing sense of purpose. 


This is an immersive and metaphorical portrait of post-colonial, “utopian” Cuba, where the 1898 explosion of the USS Maine still resonates (which started the Spanish-American war).  This Big Bang ended Spanish colonial dominance in the Americas and ushered in the era of the American Empire.  At the same time and place, a powerful tool of conquest was born: cinema as propaganda (cinema exhibition also started in 1898).  In his latest film, Hubert Sauper explores a century of interventionism and myth-making together with the extraordinary people of Havana — who he calls “young prophets” — to interrogate time, imperialism, and cinema itself.

"Mr. Soul!"

From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.  The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement.  With participants’ recollections and a bevy of great archival clips, the film captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate.


"Vinyl Nation"

The vinyl record renaissance over the past decade has brought new fans to a classic format and transformed our idea of a record collector: younger, both male and female, multicultural.  This same revival has made buying music more expensive, benefited established bands over independent artists and muddled the question of whether vinyl actually sounds better than other formats.  The film digs into the crates of the record resurgence in search of truths set in deep wax: Has the return of vinyl made music fandom more inclusive or divided?  What does vinyl say about our past here in the present?  How has the second life of vinyl changed how we hear music and how we listen to each other?

There's a special Facebook Live Q&A session you can check out on our Facebook page with Ann Arbor native Kevin Smokler, the co-director of "Vinyl Nation." The Facebook live event was recorded yesterday, led by our film programmer Nick Alderink, interviewing Kevin and the other co-director Chris Boone.


Capturing the messy upheaval of the ’70s just as rock was re-inventing itself, the film explores CREEM Magazine’s humble beginnings in post-riot Detroit, follows its upward trajectory from underground paper to national powerhouse, then bears witness to its imminent demise following the tragic and untimely deaths of its visionary publisher, Barry Kramer, and its most famous alum and genius clown prince, Lester Bangs, a year later.  Fifty years after publishing its first issue, “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine” remains a seditious spirit in music and culture.

"Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind"

Produced, written and directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni.  The documentary features interviews from many notable voices in the music industry including Lightfoot peers Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Randy Bachman, and Steve Earle; famous fans Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee from Rush, Alec BaldwinAnne Murray, and Sarah McLachlan; as well as behind-the-scenes stories from members of his longtime band.

Following Lightfoot’s evolution from Christian choirboy to troubled troubadour to international star and beloved Canadian icon, this film is an intimate and emotional examination of the artist’s profound relationship to his music and his Canadian roots.

"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. 

"Rebuilding Paradise"

On the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, a spark from a transmission line in Northern California, coupled with climate-impacted conditions, quickly grew into a devastating firestorm that engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California.  By the time the camp fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures.  It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years — and the worst ever in California’s history.

"Suzi Q"

Before Suzi Quatro burst on the music world in 1973, there were almost no women in rock, and absolutely none who played bass and sang lead vocals and led the band and rocked out and reached millions of people around the world, re-writing the rule book for the expected image of women in rock & roll.  Singer, songwriter, bass player, bandleader, actress, radio-presenter, poet – there is only one Suzi Q, the pint-sized, leather-clad rocker who has sold more than 50 million records and, in 2019, released a new album, celebrating 53 years as a working musician.

Suzi Q – Curbside Concessions Deal! – Purchase a large combo from our Curbside Concessions menu and receive a voucher for $2 off your rental of Suzi Q!  Clickhere for more info and to order during open pick-up times.


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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