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Cinema Chat: An advance look at the upcoming 62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival

Ann Arbor Film Festival
/
aafilmfest.org

OPENING THIS WEEK

"Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" — OPENS FRIDAY, MARCH 22 AT THE MULTIPLEX

When the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second ice age.

"Problemista" — OPENS TODAY AT THE STATE

A 2023 American surrealist comedy written, directed, and co-produced by Julio Torres. It stars Torres, Tilda Swinton, RZA, Greta Lee, Catalina Saavedra, James Scully, and Isabella Rossellini. The film follows a struggling aspiring toy designer from El Salvador who starts working for an erratic art-world outcast in New York City, hoping to stay in the country and realize his dream before his work visa expires.

"Oppenheimer" — RETURNS TO THE MICHIGAN FRIDAY, MARCH 22 THROUGH SUNDAY, MARCH 24

Presented in 35mm film!

See this Academy Award Winning Best Picture the way the filmmakers wanted you to see it – from a film print! ONLY AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER SCREENING ROOM.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan ("Tenet", "Dunkirk"), this is an epic film about the enigmatic man who risked destroying the world in order to save it. Starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and Robert Downey, Jr.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"One Cut from the Dead" — PLAYS THURSDAY, MARCH 21 AT 7:15 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Part of the U-M Center for Japanese Film Studies 2024 Series

Real zombies attack a hack director and a film crew who are shooting a low budget zombie film in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Curator's note: The film took Japan by storm in 2017, raking in a profit a thousand times higher than its minimal cost. Aside from the fun mix of comedy and shock, audiences were drawn by the premise: a one-shot zombie film.

"In Bruges" — PLAYS TONIGHT AT 7:30 PM AT THE STATE

Part of the Late Night Classics series

After a particularly difficult job, Irish hit men Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) head to Belgium to hide out until things cool down. Ray hates the medieval city they land in, but Ken finds its beauty and peacefulness enchanting. Their experiences become increasingly surreal and possibly life changing as they encounter tourists, locals, an American dwarf and a potential romance for Ray. From director Martin McDonagh ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

"Drive" — PLAYS FRIDAY, MARCH 22 AT 9:30 PM AND THURSDAY, MARCH 28 AT 7:30 PM AT THE STATE

Part of the Late Night Classics series

Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Though he projects an icy exterior, lately he's been warming up to a pretty neighbor named Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, Benicio. When Irene's husband (Oscar Isaac) gets out of jail, he enlists Driver's help in a million-dollar heist. The job goes horribly wrong, and Driver must risk his life to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful masterminds behind the robbery. From director Nicolas Winding Refn and also starring Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, and Ron Perlman.

"The Peasants" — PLAYS SATURDAY, MARCH 23 AT 3:15 PM AT THE STATE

This film tells the story of Jagna, a young woman determined to forge her own path within the confines of a late 19th century Polish village – a hotbed of gossip and on-going feuds, held together, rich and poor, by pride in their land, adherence to colorful traditions and deep-rooted patriarchy. When Jagna finds herself caught between the conflicting desires of the village’s richest farmer, his eldest son, and other leading men of the community, her resistance puts her on a tragic collision course with the community around her. From directors DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman ("Loving Vincent"). Presented in Polish with English subtitles.

"Bad River" — PLAYS SATURDAY, MARCH 23 AT 5 PM AND 7:30 PM AT THE STATE (SOLD OUT!!!)

Presented by Oil & Water Don't Mix

Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker, Mary Mazzio ("I Am Jane Doe," "A Most Beautiful Thing") and narrated by Indigenous activist and model Quannah Chasinghorse and award-winning actor Edward Norton ("Primal Fear," "American History X," "Birdman"), chronicles the Wisconsin-based Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and its ongoing fight for sovereignty.

"My Love Awaits Me by the Sea" — PLAYS SUNDAY, MARCH 24 AT 1:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Part of the Falasteen on Screen series

A woman takes a first time journey back to her Palestine. Accompanied by Hasan, her imaginary lover, she searches for his fantasy world and finds the remnants of hope in a land exhausted by endless year. From director Mais Darwazah. Presented in Arabic with English subtitles

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"One Life"

Based on the book "If It's Not Impossible...: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton" by Barbara Winton, this film tells the incredible, emotional true story of Nicholas "Nicky" Winton (Johnny Flynn), a young London broker who visits Prague in December 1938. In a race against time, Winton convinces Trevor Chadwick (Alex Sharp) and Doreen Warriner (Romola Garai) of the British Committee for Refugees in Czechoslovakia to rescue hundreds of predominantly Jewish children before Nazi occupation closes the borders. Fifty years later, Nicky (Anthony Hopkins) is haunted by the fate of the children he wasn't able to bring to safety in England. It's not until the BBC show "That's Life!" re-introduces him to some of those he helped rescue that he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief he carried -- all the while skyrocketing from anonymity to a national hero. From director James Hawes.

"Love Lies Bleeding"

From director Rose Glass comes an electric new love story; reclusive gym manager Lou falls hard for Jackie, an ambitious bodybuilder headed through town to Vegas in pursuit of her dream. But their love ignites violence, pulling them deep into the web of Lou's criminal family. Starring Kristen Stewart, Katy M. O'Brian, and Ed Harris.

"Perfect Days"

A 2023 drama film directed by Wim Wenders, from a script written by Wenders and Takuma Takasaki. A co-production between Japan and Germany, the film combines four short stories and stars Kōji Yakusho in the role of a toilet cleaner. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered on 25 May and won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Best Actor Award for Kōji Yakusho. It was nominated for the Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards, becoming the first film not directed by a Japanese filmmaker to be nominated as the Japanese entry.

Hirayama seems utterly content with his simple life as a cleaner of toilets in Tokyo. Outside of his very structured everyday routine he enjoys his passion for music and for books. And he loves trees and takes photos of them. A series of unexpected encounters gradually reveal more of his past. A deeply moving and poetic reflection on finding beauty in the everyday world around us.

"Dune: Part Two"

A 2024 American epic science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jon Spaihts. The sequel to "Dune" (2021), it is the second of a two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert and follows Paul Atreides as he unites with the Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis to wage war against House Harkonnen. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem reprise their roles from the first film, with Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken and Léa Seydoux joining the ensemble cast.

The film will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.

"The Zone of Interest"

A 2023 historical drama film written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis. It stars Christian Friedel as the German Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss, who strives to build a dream life with his wife, Hedwig (Sandra Hüller), in a new home next to the German Auschwitz concentration camp.

The film premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on 19 May 2023 to acclaim, winning the Grand Prix Prize. It was named Best Film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and selected as one of the top-five international films of 2023 by the National Board of Review.

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Glazer and Best International Feature Film. A new film from writer/director Jonathan Glazer (‘Under the Skin’)

"American Fiction"

A 2023 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Cord Jefferson, in his feature directorial debut. Based on the 2001 novel "Erasure" by Percival Everett, the film follows a frustrated novelist-professor who jokingly writes an outlandishly stereotypical "Black" book out of spite, only for the book to be published and receive widespread fame and acclaim. It stars Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, Sterling K. Brown, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, and Keith David.

Director Cord Jefferson's hilarious directorial debut, which confronts our culture's obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a frustrated novelist who is fed up with the establishment profiting from "Black" entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish "Black" book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

62ND ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL

Opening Night Party | 6:30 – 8pm | Michigan Theater Grand Foyer

Celebrate the first night of the festival with drinks and food and a ticket to Films in Competition 1

Films in Competition 1 | 8:15pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium

The 62nd Festival begins with this screening of experimental, documentary, and animated films, featuring a calibration test film; two abstract, cosmic energies; two Texas sisters in the metaverse; a provocative story of longing and connection; the horrors and absurdities of life during Putin’s war on Ukraine; a familiar world within a world; and an explosion.

Knight’s After-Party | 9:30pm–11:30pm | free

The 62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival will take place March 26–31, 2024 (online March 26–April 7). Each program is different. Films are not rated. All programs are intended for mature audiences except for Saturday’s Almost All Ages (6+) program. Some films have imagery of a stroboscopic nature.

Passes are on sale now, and gain you access to many or all of our programs, depending on the type of pass. Tickets to all individual programs are now available.

What do all these program titles mean?

  • Films in Competition: short film programs built from films submitted to our festival this year. Short films are all less than 60 minutes (usually less than 20 minutes), and each program will have anywhere from 6-14 films.
  • Features in Competition: programs that either consist of a single feature film (60 minutes or longer), or a feature and a short film that were submitted to the festival this year (if a program includes a paired feature and short, the films may relate to each other, but have not been submitted together by the same filmmaker).
  • Special Programs: specially curated programs of films that have not been submitted for award consideration this year, but instead were curated around a thematic idea by friends and artists of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
  • Off The Screen! (OTS!): new media, video, live performance, and art installations that are either ongoing during festival week or happen at a specific time.
  • Speaker Series: panel discussions, workshops, and presentations by friends and artists of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

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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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