Cinetopia International Film Festival

Cinetopia runs June 4-8 in Michigan. Check out some of our coverage.

For its third year, the Cinetopia International Film Festival has added a day, widening its scope, the number of films being presented, and its influence. This festival, still in its infancy, is no Cannes yet, but at the rate it’s growing, it very well could be some day, and some day soon.

It’s from June 4th through the 8th, films being presented in Southeast Michigan, primarily in Detroit at the DIA and in Ann Arbor at the Michigan and State Theaters. Having secured a media pass (and, by having an accepted short film in their Detroit Voices coincidentally, a filmmaker pass), I am to cover it for the website you are currently reading.

The bulk of the films that make up the festival are ones collected from previous festivals, like Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, and Toronto. Those films enter Cinetopia with the most buzz, and leave with about the same. Most that I am planning to see are from this group of films, with the exception here and there.

The biggest events this year are the two guest directors coming to screen their films then talk about them. They are John Sayles (Go for Sisters, Lone Star, Eight Men Out), who is an Oscar nominee for Best Original Screenplay, and Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Oldboy), two-time Oscar nominee, one for Best Original Screenplay, the other for Best Documentary. Both are very important figures in the independent film world, both inspiring a generation of filmmakers to go out and make their own film, independent of some deep pocketed studio head. Along with Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Do the Right Thing was part of the 1989 beginning of this new wave of film that is still continuing today.

Top Five Most Anticipated Films of the Festival:

This Germanic comedy-drama from David Wnendt happens to be my least anticipated film on my most anticipated list for a reason: it sounds disturbing in about a hundred different ways. Following a woman with an anal fixation and a fondness of gross who cuts herself in a rather bad place and ending up in a hospital. In the description of the film, it says, “Underneath the gross sexual antics and drugs is a fragile girl dealing with a very dark secret,” which makes the entire proposition sound intriguing, but there is a high possibility that this ambitious part of the film takes a sideline to the grossness of it all.

Wetlands is playing on Friday, June 6th at 9:00 PM at the State Theater and on Saturday, June 7th at 9:45 PM at the College for Creative Studies.

Honestly, I have no idea what this film is about. Yet, I feel by its trailer (posted below) that it’s going to be something I like a lot, despite understanding exactly nothing, as there are no subtitles for the trailer (I’m making an assumption that there will be some for the actual film, which is probably a safe one).  Having read the description, it sounds absolutely bonkers, like Oldboy, if it wasn’t as tonally serious as it is. Which is exactly what I want out of a film like this one. Unless it fetishizes everything with absolutely no substance, like it probably could, then I’ll like it.

R100 is playing on Saturday, June 7th at 11:30 PM at the State Theater.

A few years ago I was trying to get an anthology horror comedy made, which I never did. I was using IndieGoGo to fundraise, and I noticed another project called Ape, which looked good to me. It and its director, Joel Potrykus, made its goal in time and it apparently turned out well. I never saw it. Now I have the chance to see his follow up, the final part of the thematic trilogy that director made, this one titled Buzzard, which sounds cynically hilarious.. This Grand Rapids director hopefully receives more work in the future, but to get there, he has to receive attention for his current projects, and the way that happens is through guys like me watching stuff like this. If it didn’t look as good as it does or have received as high of marks as it has, it probably would be lower on my most anticipated list.

Buzzard is playing on Friday, Junes 6th at 6:45 PM at the State Theater and on Saturday, June 7th at 9:30 PM at the DIA Lecture Hall.

2.The Congress
I mentioned adoring ambitious. It’s rare for any film to seem as ambitious as this one does. A narrative film, it follows the actress Robin Wright as she sells her body to Hollywood to put her in any film she wants. From the director of Waltz with Bashire, it’s half live-action, half-animated, and it looks completely amazing. Even if it’s as big of a mess as it probably is, it’s unlikely to disappoint me.

The Congress is playing on Friday, June 6th at 9:30 PM at the Michigan Theater and on Saturday, June 7th at 8:00 PM at the University of Michigan Modern Languages Building 4.

1.Tom at the Farm
Xavier Dolan. That’s a name I believe people will recognize as well as they do Michel Haneke or Jean-Luc Godard (if this was the ‘60s). Maybe it’ll take ten years, but he’ll still only be 25 and be making films. Tom at the Farm is his fourth film, and seems like he’s taking a different genre on. While usually doing relationship dramas, he’s going into psychological territory. He’s also acting in his film, which he didn’t do (outside a cameo) in 2013’s Laurence Anyways. I believe him to be one of the most talented actors, writers, and directors today, so there’s no possible way this isn’t my most anticipated film of this festival. He seems to be playing with aspect ratios too, which is territory most don’t mess with, stylistically, which seems like an interesting thing to do. I wonder if this is the next stylistic mark of one of the strongest auteurs working today.

Tom at the Farm playing on Friday, June 6th at 11:30 PM at the State Theater and on Sunday, June 8th at 8:00 PM at the DIA Lecture Hall.

Films playing at the festival include:

Attila Marcel
Bad Hair
The Better Angels
The Case Against 8
The Congress
Deep City: The Birth of the Miami Sound
Detroit Voices
The Dog
Finding Mr. Right
Go For Sisters
God Help the Girl
The Great Flood
Hanna’s Journey
Jingle Bell Rocks!
Life Feels Good
Lone Star
No Clue
Northern Light
Obvious Child
OJ: The Musical
Paris or Parish
Rich Hill
Rock the Casbah
Silver CityA Story of Children and Film
The Sublime and Beautiful
To Be Takei
To Kill a Man
A Touch of Sin
Ummah Among Friends
War Story
Watchers of the Sky
White Shadow
The Yellow Ticket
And more! 50 Films at 11 Venues over five days! June 4th - 8th in Ann Arbor and Detroit!

-Greg Dinskisk