News Column

Notable Michigan film festivals from all over the state

October 6, 2013


Oct. 06--When it debuts in March, the Freep Film Festival will join a schedule of Michigan cinema events that extends north to Traverse City, west to South Haven and east to Port Huron. Here are some of the staples:

Traverse City Film Festival (July 29-Aug. 3, 2014): Founded in 2005 by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, this event has lured big-league participants like Madonna and Susan Sarandon and turns the Up North vacation spot into a kinder, gentler Cannes for one week.

Cinetopia International Film Festival (June 4-8, 2014): Its program brings an eclectic mix of features and documentaries from top worldwide festivals to southeastern Michigan. This year, the Ann Arbor-based program expanded to include the Detroit Film Theatre as a venue.

Waterfront Film Festival (TBA): Since 1999, it's been a highlight of the summer season in the Saugatuck region (although it moved last year to South Haven). The showcase for indie films has hosted standouts like the documentary "Man on Wire" and guests like actress Darryl Hannah.

Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival (April 27-May 7, 2014): It offers a wide range of works that tackle historical subjects, address current political issues or entertain through the power of drama and comedy. It's sponsored by West Bloomfield's Jewish Community Center.

Ann Arbor Film Festival (March 25-30, 2014): A granddaddy of the state's lineup, it bills itself as the longest running such event in North America for indie and experimental films. Launched in 1963, it has influenced future stars like Ken Burns, who returned to his childhood home this year to show "The Central Park Five."

Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival (Oct. 24-26): Placid Grand Rapids becomes very scary once a year for this celebration of the sci-fi, suspense and horror genre. It recently made MovieMaker magazine's list of the top 20 horror/sci-fi film festivals.

Uptown Film Festival (Nov. 7-9): The three-year-old happening, inspired by incentive-fueled local filming, takes place in Birmingham and includes the Michigan Film Awards ceremony as part of its schedule.

Mitten Movie Project (first Tuesday of every month): It's described as a monthly festival, but this gathering at Royal Oak's Main Art Theatre is also a networking opportunity and incubator for local independent artists that began in 2005. On any given month, it could be screening shorts, trailers, student films, cartoons or music videos.

Detroit Dreaming Film Festival (Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2014): This new entry from Matrix Theatre Company debuted in 2013 with a focus on projects that tell stories about the Motor City and its residents.

Michigan Student Film and Video Festival (April 26, 2014). For more than four decades, it's provided a chance for young artists from kindergarten to 12th grade to show their media art. One of its alums, Dan Scanlon, just directed the Pixar smash "Monsters University."


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