Cinema Chat: Cinetopia Film Festival Starts Tonight!

May 31, 2018

State Theatre Marquee
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons /

Cinetopia 2018 launches tonight, and we have all of the details, including a few surprises!  That's what's in store for this week's "Cinema Chat" with WEMU's David Fair and Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins.



Opening night film, May 31:

8:00 - "Eighth Grade" -- opening night! Special guest Director Bo Burnham.  LOVED this film @ Sundance!!

Friday, June 1:

5:45 - "Hal" – Documentary on Director Hal Ashby (Harold & Maude, Shampoo, The Last Detail, Coming Home, Being There)

9:00 - "A Boy.  A Girl.  A Dream: Love On Election Night" directed by Qasim Basir.  The screening will be at the Michigan Theater.  Qasim, also known as “Q,” is from Ann Arbor (Huron High graduate).  Staring Omari Hardwick (TV-Saved and Dark Blue, Being Mary Jane; movies-The A-Team, Kick-Ass, Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls…) and Meagan Good.  They will join Q at the screening – as will Samantha Tanner, who co-wrote the film.  There will be romance flickering on the screen and last year, Q and Samantha created additional romantic excitement when they became engaged during Cinetopia last year at the screening of Q’s film “Destined.” 

To get FREE tickets to A BOY A GIRL A DREAM for Friday, June 1 at 9:00 PM:

  1. Visit
  2. Select showtime from the available options by clicking the BUY TICKETS button.
  3. Click the KNOW A PROMOTION CODE? Button above the available prices.
  4. Enter the code DREAM and hit SUBMIT.
  5. The $0 FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY price will now be available.
  6. Select up to 5 tickets, click ADD.
  7. Select PROCEED TO CHECKOUT, then CHECKOUT on the next page, and follow the rest of the prompts to complete the transaction.

Saturday, June 2:

12:05 – Children’s Film Fest (from Seattle) – FREE

4:00 – "American Animals" – art heist thriller by BAFTA winning dir. Bart Layton.  Free for MT members

7:00 – "The Big House" – great doc on UM Football Stadium

9:45 – "Night is Short, Walk On Girl" – Comedy from Japan

Sunday, June 3:

12:15 – Skyline High’s Legacy Project FREE

12:30 – "Butterflies" – Turkish comedy

5:00 – "Savage Youth" – Crime drama, directed by EMU grad Michael Curtis Johnson – whose Hunky Dory was a hit at the 2016 Cinetopia Festival.  Michael will be at the screening!

7:00 – "Ray Meets Helen," starring Keith Carradine and Sondra Locke, directed by Alan Rudolph (The Moderns, Choose Me, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) disciple of and assistant director for Robert Altman.

Monday & Tuesday, June 4-5:

Alan Rudolph Symposium at the UM PLUS Festival Screening continue!!

"Blindspotting" – written and starring Daveed Digs ("Hamilton")

"Love, Gilda" – closes the festival


  • This year, we have the most directors and talent coming with their films than any other year.
  • 55 film titles over 120 screenings
  • Film shown in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Dearborn.
  • If you find yourself wanting to see at least 8 movies, an all-movie pass will pay for itself.
  • The biggest perk of getting a pass is you will be in a priority line, which does not guarantee admission, but it gives you the freedom to pick and choose where and when you want to see a movie. If you arrive in line early enough, you will most likely get admitted. We’re also giving pass holders priority in smaller venue screens, like the Annex and State Theater 3.


"How to Talk to Girls at Parties"

At the State: From the minds of Director John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") and novelist Neil Gaiman, this is a science fiction romance starring Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, and Nicole Kidman, about an alien touring the galaxy who breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants in the most dangerous place in the universe: the punk rock world of 1970s London, inadvertently setting off a series of events that leads to the ultimate showdown between punks and aliens.

"Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami"

At the Michigan: this is an electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones.  The film contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones's bold aesthetic.  A larger-than-life entertainer, an androgynous glam-pop diva, an unpredictable media presence--Grace Jones is all these things and more.  Sophie Fiennes's documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, offering a portrait as stylish and unconventional as its subject.


When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter's family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.  The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.  Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.  Written and directed by Ari Aster.  Special laser effects by Mike Gould.  Opening Thursday, June 7 at the Michigan.


"The Gardener"

And at the Michigan: this is a documentary which reflects on the meaning of gardening.  Influential gardener Frank Cabot recounts his personal quest for perfection at his twenty-acre English style garden in the Charlevoix County in Quebec.  The LA Times calls it “A soothing and transporting journey sure to inspire gardeners of all stripes to create their own slice of heaven.”

"A Quiet Place"

At the State Theatre: Emily Blunt and Writer/Director John Krasinski star in the modern horror thriller.  A family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival.  If they hear you, they hunt you.  Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.

"Pope Francis: A Man of His Word"

And at the Michigan: Wim Wenders' new documentary is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him.  The Pope's ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today's global questions.  From his deep concern for the poor and wealth inequality, to his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, Pope Francis engages the audience face-to-face and calls for peace.


At the Michigan: The highly anticipated new documentary from CNN Films is an intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.


This is a documentary that looks at the life, work and religious heritage of violinist Itzhak Perlman.  From Schubert to Strauss, Bach to Brahms, Mozart to...Billy Joel, Perlman's violin playing transcends mere performance to evoke the celebrations and struggles of real life.  As charming and entrancing as the famous violinist himself, "Itzhak" is a portrait of musical virtuosity seamlessly enclosed in warmth, humor, and above all, love.


From the writer/director team of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman (Juno, Young Adult), and starring Charlize Theron.  Theron plays Marlo, a mother of three who is gifted a night nanny by her brother.  Though hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully.  Also starring Mackenzie DavisMark Duplass, and Ron Livingston.

"Isle of Dogs"

From Wes Anderson, this film follows a group of canine pets who have been exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island.  When a 12-year-old boy sets off alone in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots, the group of dogs travel the island with him in the search,featuring the voices Bryan CranstonEdward NortonBill MurrayScarlett JohanssonJeff Goldblum, and more.

"The Death of Stalin"

The latest comedic satire from Armando Iannucci continues for another week, which depicts the chaos that fell on the Soviet regime after the death of their powerful leader.



The State Theatre renovation project completed in 2017 won the Ann Arbor Historic District Preservation Project of the Year.  80% of the credit goes to the Michigan Theater Foundation (a non-profit corporation) and 20% of the credit for this project goes to the State Theatre, LLC, who were the owners of the entire building, until they sold the part of the building used for cinema exhibition to the Michigan Theater Foundation.  State Theatre, LLC owns half of the building’s physical plant (the half occupied by Urban Outfitters) and 20% of the building’s façade (the Michigan Theater Foundation owns 80% of the façade).  Not only was the State Theatre, LLC cooperative in selling the State Theatre to the Michigan Theater Foundation, they also paid for 20% of the marquee restoration and worked thoughtfully with us throughout the renovation process.

Regarding 80% credit going to the MICHIGAN THEATER FOUNDATION:

Russ Collins, Lee Berry and Steve Crowley were the staff members who led this project for the Michigan Theater Foundation.  The volunteer Board Chair of the Michigan Theater, Hillary Murt, was heavily involved and deserves specific recognition with Russ, Lee and Steve, as does the fund raising Campaign Chair Martha Darling (and her husband Gil Omenn). Honorary Chairs of the campaign were Judy Rumelhart and Ron Weiser and they were critical to the project’s success. The contractor, who led the renovation work was the local contractor O’Neal Construction and they deserve recognition, as does the key architect, another local firm, Quinn-Evans (some out-of-town renovation consultants should also be mentioned – Paul Richardson, Chapin Cutler, Gary Meyer).  This was a project of the Michigan Theater Foundation and that team – the Board, staff and campaign leadership as well as the design/contracting team – deserve the recognition for this historically sensitive renovation project.

Regarding 20% credit going to STATE THEATRE, LLC.:

Barry Margolis, Shelly and Jody Mendelson and Jim Chaconas are the key people we worked during the purchased and renovated of the State Theatre.  Without State Theatre, LLC’s cooperation and partnership the preservation of the State Theatre as a beautifully restored cinema space and public assembly venue could not have been accomplished. The community owes a debt of gratitude to STATE THEATRE, LLC.


For 35 years, Russ Collins has served as the Executive Director of the Michigan Theater Foundation which manages and has restored: Two historic theaters in Ann Arbor – the Michigan: A fully restored 1920s Movie Palace and, the State: A recently renovated 1940s Art Deco, Cinema Style theater. The Michigan Theater Foundation also operates a national conference presented in association with the Sundance Film Festival - the Art House Convergence and Cinetopia - An International Film Festival for Ann Arbor and Detroit. He was raised and educated in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Professional recognition includes: Being named to the first class of IndieWire “Influencers” of North America’s independent cinema; Selected as an Arts Administration Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts; Knighted by the Republic of Italy for the promotion of Italian film culture in the USA; An Award of Professional Merit given annually was named for him by the Art House Convergence; Honored as Citizen of the Year by the local council of the Boy Scouts of America.  He has taught film studies and arts management at Eastern Michigan University, is a speaker and panelist on Art House exhibition at festivals and seminars in North America and Europe.  He holds a Bachelors and Master Degree in Arts from the University of Michigan.

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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