A New Encounter of the DFT Kind

You can always count on something innovative and creative at the Detroit Film Theatre. On my first visit of the Fall 2007 season, on September 13, I was greeted by a new entrance that the DFT will use while renovation goes on at the Detroit Institute of Arts near the DFT’s regular entrance.

At the sidewalk by John R, a friendly DFT volunteer guided visitors through orange plastic fencing to an open door near the bottom of the elegant, powerful marble staircases on that side of the building. At the door, another welcoming volunteer directed filmgoers to the new location of the ticket seller in the inner lobby.

All of this activity proceeded with a light, pleasant air of novelty and renewal, along with a feeling of forward motion, as patrons saw further progress on the years-long work at the DIA that will culminate with a grand re-opening in November.

I had a similar experience at the Michigan Theater around 2000, when ambitious restoration work on the ticket booth and in the concession area required a side entrance for several months. A small investment of patience and inconvenience paid off with the splendid rebirth of the Michigan’s original beauty—the same privilege that awaits visitors to the new DIA and DFT.

Humor and Satire in the Workplace

Soon I was in my favorite DFT seat, listening to some peaceful, drifting music that helped set the tone for that night’s film, a one-time showing of the Danish comedy, Boss of It All. This satire on workplace life was the perfect entertainment for visitors who, on this Thursday evening, were still very much in the workweek frame of mind.

The movie showed how workers look for roles, how they fit into those roles, and how roles change them. Offscreen commentary by the writer/director of the film, Lars von Trier, gave the impression that he was a puppeteer, manipulating the actor/employees in the same impersonal way that work life often treated them.

The film reminded me of one of my favorite DFT movies, the Italian Lamerica, which screened at the DFT in 1995. In both films, the appointment of a fake supervisor leads to surprising developments, and that supervisor’s unique viewpoint has a profound effect on the person who empowered him.

After the film, I walked out into the pleasantly cool September evening. From my elevated view on the steps, the lights of the Cultural Center spread out before me. It’s a sensation that I look forward to experiencing many times in the next few months—before enjoying something even better with the grand re-opening of the DIA.

When I got home, I took my first extensive look at the crisp new Fall 2007 DFT schedule. Thanksgiving weekend promises to be an exciting time, when events at the newly re-opened DIA will include DFT matinee showings of two classic children’s films—White Mane (1952) and The Red Balloon (1956).

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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    One Response to A New Encounter of the DFT Kind

    1. Administrator says:

      On my next visit to the DFT (Sept. 21, 2007), I found the old entrance restored, in a bright new setting. It looks like the DIA is giving the DFT side of the museum a stronger presence, with a U-shaped drop-off drive. Also, there’s a series of square marble columns that lead towards the DFT and maybe another large entrance to the museum. That will help give the DFT more visibility to people visiting the DIA. Who knows what we’ll find next week?

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