I was pleasantly surprised the other day to see that this year the Detroit Film Theatre will be participating in the Cinetopia International Film Festival that the Michigan Theater started last year.

The Detroit Movie Palaces web site has tried to promote the DFT, the Michigan, and the Redford Theatre as a unique community of theaters that complement each other with their individual strengths but share a commitment to historic theater preservation and alternative film schedules. A direct collaboration between any of the theaters strengthens that community.

The second Cinetopia will be held on June 6-9, 2013, and will build on relationships that the Michigan and DFT have established with well-known film festivals around the world. The Michigan has become an official venue for Sundance Film Festival USA. The Friends of the Detroit Film Theatre and DFT Film Curator Elliot Wilhelm have been journeying to Toronto every September for the Toronto International Film Festival.

I made several trips to last year’s inaugural Cinetopia at the Michigan (Journey to Cinetopia). This year’s festival promises another wide variety of film experiences from the Venice, Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, and other film festivals.

Mixing and Matching

Just this month, my visits to the theaters have combined in such ways that an experience at one theater helped enhance an experience at another.

On consecutive evenings, the Michigan and DFT screened two historically based films that helped give a human face to disruptive events in the two countries where the movies were set.

At the Michigan on April 4, Lore showed the tragic and unsettling adventures of five German children who had to travel alone across the country to their grandparents’ home at the end of World War II.

At the DFT on April 5, Iranian director Shirin Neshat introduced her film Women Without Men, which described how various women tried to live their lives in the early 1950s when Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was taking control of Iran from the Mohammad Mosaddegh government.

On April 8, the Michigan hosted a screening of the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Marnie. On hand to introduce the film was Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz and Marnie star Tippi Hedren, who also appeared at the Redford on September 28-29, 2012 (Tippi Now and Then).

Tippi’s two recent visits to this area gave film fans a chance to hear her talk about how Alfred Hitchcock’s professional and personal interest in Tippi helped launch her film career (The Birds at the Redford), and then later hurt her career (Marnie at the Michigan).

And today (April 20), I’m looking forward to another unique day/night Detroit doubleheader of movies at the Redford and DFT. I’ll be visiting the Redford for a matinee showing of the 1969 comedy western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Later, I’ll be at the DFT for a screening of the World War II documentary Nicky’s Family.

I know that the impact of the serious drama Nicky’s Family in the formal and elegant DFT auditorium will be enhanced by the contrast with Paul Newman and Robert Redford in a classic Hollywood movie at the cozy and colorful Redford.

Cinetopia 2013 might give many DFT and Michigan visitors the chance to discover the other theater. And later this year, many area movie fans will re-discover the Redford, which will be closed in May and June for renovation work that will include new seats and new carpeting. Work at the theater has already begun on new fire escapes.

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2013 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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