The late afternoon sunlight streamed through the high, vertical, arched windows of the Crystal Gallery Café of the Detroit Film Theatre. About 30-40 people had gathered to participate in a discussion led by Wayne State University professor Karen McDevitt about a powerful new French film that they had just watched in the DFT auditorium on July 12, 2009. The ornate vaulted ceilings enhanced the feeling of understanding that spread throughout the café as the discussion proceeded.
Archive for the ‘Detroit Film Theatre’ Category
The Detroit Film Theatre has forged such a strong identity for itself that it’s easy to forget that it’s also one of many activities presented by the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DFT screens films in the DIA auditorium, which was part of the original 1927 construction of the building and which also hosts activities like the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.
As I watched the magnificently restored Lola Montès at the Detroit Film Theatre on Jan. 16, 2009, I thought about all of the silent films that are lost forever. Before the 7 p.m. showing of this 1955 French/German film, DFT Film Curator Elliot Wilhelm talked about the long journey that this movie traveled to be restored to the original vision of director Max Ophüls, who died in 1957, perhaps in part because of the mutilation of his last film.
With its unique focus on new art films and specially restored old movies, the Detroit Film Theatre usually doesn’t have Christmas-themed programming. But on Nov. 29, 2008, the Yuletide spirit filled the historic DFT auditorium, in the animated Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.
After a whirlwind of filmgoing that took me to all three of the Detroit Movie Palaces, I have many blessings to count in this season of Thanksgiving.
As I write this, my mind and emotions are reflecting on the enjoyment and the enrichment of: a family classic (The Wizard of Oz); a newly discovered barrel of fun (3 Ring Circus); a dramatic look at an Italian family (Days and Clouds); and two skillfully nuanced and emotionally gripping films (I’ve Loved You So Long and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).
This summer marks 20 years of visits by me to the Detroit Film Theatre. I’ll never forget that first movie in the summer of 1988, when my good friend John Petersen finally talked me into visiting this theater that I heard about for years, but had never got around to seeing.
To better appreciate the preservation of the Detroit Film Theatre, Michigan Theater, and Redford Theatre, think about the outpouring of memories and emotions that have come this past week because of the demolition of Tiger Stadium.
And just imagine the news stories that might have been written if special efforts had not been made to maintain the DFT, Michigan and Redford for future generations:
The recently published mystery novel Frames is partially set in an old movie theater in Los Angeles. Reading this entertaining book by Michigan author Loren D. Estleman was made a lot more fun by my experiences at the Detroit Film Theatre, Michigan Theater, and Redford Theatre.