As I drove home from the Redford Theatre last night, oldies station WOMC-FM was playing “Ballad of the Green Berets”, a 1966 salute to soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. That popular song honored U.S. troops during a war that, like the current Iraq War, divided the country, provoked many protests, and shook up the political power structure in the United States.
Archive for the ‘Documentaries’ Category
As the multi-colored leaves fall, and the afternoon light takes on a crystal clear glow, many people enjoy the stimulating pleasures of autumn. The crisp temperatures and dramatic sunsets intensify one’s feeling for life. The approaching end of another year fills a person with reflective insights. The summer season is over, fall/winter arts events have begun, and people are drawn more to indoor group activities.
As I wandered the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on the evening of September 12, 2006, I was fascinated by the many contrasts of the old and the new. The theater was hosting the Grand Opening of its MicroCinema Gallery, a collection of video screens that were scattered throughout the Grand Foyer and other parts of the theater.
In August 2001, the Detroit Film Theatre showed the Chinese film The Road Home, about a businessman who returns to the village of his childhood for his father’s funeral and makes some heartfelt discoveries about his parents. This emotionally powerful movie was directed by Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern) and starred Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). I enjoyed this poignant film so much that I decided to see it again if it showed up at another movie theater.
In almost 20 years of trips to the Detroit Film Theatre, I have discovered many fascinating things about the world of cinema. It started in 1988, when my good friend John Petersen invited me to a screening of the German film Wings of Desire. The beauty and preservation of the theater impressed me, and then I was entranced by the hypnotic rhythm and evocative camerawork of this meditation on life in Cold War Berlin. After hundreds of trips to the theater, I still reserve a special place in my DFT memories for this first visit.
Twenty-five years ago this week, the Detroit Film Theatre began its ninth season on August 7, 1981 with François Truffaut’s The Last Metro. The first half of that season finished on December 20 with the documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. A glance at the fall 1981 schedule reveals interesting insights into how art film programming has changed in the Detroit area.
The Michigan Theater recently received a special award that gave significant recognition to the quality and variety of its programming. On July 22, 2006, the League of Historic American Theatres presented the Michigan with its Outstanding Historic Theatre Award. According to the LHAT web site, the award recognizes “the highest standards of excellence” in the “vision, execution and service” shown by “an operating historic theatre.”
Another season of the Detroit Film Theatre has ended, and fans of the DFT have several months to build up anticipation for the next season, which starts in September. The DFT cycles through the calendar with a school year rhythm that also guides other cultural events. During the last weekend of the 2005/2006 DFT season, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City presented the final Saturday afternoon radio broadcast of its season, which started in December. Something about these endings—and knowledge of new beginnings next season—helps us to appreciate these art events even more.
DFT Double Bills
The Winter/Spring 2006 season of the Detroit Film Theatre included a new programming twist: Sunday double features. Visitors could attend an afternoon showing of one film, and then hang around for another movie in the evening. These double features started with the main weekend film, which would show on Friday and Saturday nights and then finish up on Sunday afternoons. On Sunday evenings, DFT visitors would then be treated to a film in a special series (Black History Month and Library of Congress silent films), or a film that in previous seasons would have been shown on just Monday nights.