10-day event showcases films from the world's best film festivals


Now in its 8th year, the Cinetopia Film Festival kicks off Friday and is bringing 67 films to area film lovers.

Programmers have been doing their homework since September’s Toronto International Film Festival, looking for narratives and documentaries from around the globe to showcase during the 10-day festival. January’s Sundance Film Festival is another biggie for Cinetopia, which aims to house the best films from the world’s major film festivals under one roof, which is actually eight venues around Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. 

“We try to get a wide variety of stories,” says festival director Ariel Wan. She says this year’s fest is especially strong for stories centered on music and the LGBTQ community.

Here are five points of interest for this year’s Cinetopia.

• An opening night party will be held at the Michigan Theater prior to the opening night selection, “Before You Know It,” while a closing night party will be held at Mcity, a mock city built for testing autonomous vehicles, which ties into the fest’s closing film, “Autonomy,” a documentary about driver-less cars.

• Among the music-related offerings at this year’s festival are “Fonotune: An Electric Fairytale,” a comic adventure about three drifters traveling to the final concert of a mysterious rock god; “Wild Rose,” the tale of a singer from Glasgow who dreams of making it in Nashville; and “After So Many Days,” the story of a singer-songwriter duo who make a pact to play a show a day, every day, for a year.

In addition, one of this year’s “Secretopia” offerings — billed as a screening of a mystery film — stars Kate McKinnon, Lily James and Ed Sheeran, and concerns the music of a certain rock band from Liverpool, according to social media clues from the festival. It's not too hard to figure that one out.

• New this year is the fest’s partnership with Emagine Royal Oak, which will host films from May 16-19. Emagine Royal Oak joins Cinema Detroit, the Arab American National Museum, the Maple Theater, Senate Theater, Michigan Theater, Angell Hall and the State Theater as Cinetopia host venues.

• Several of the festival’s screenings will feature Q&A sessions with filmmakers; on May 17, four of the screenings at Emagine Royal Oak will include talent from the films. “If you’re looking for one day to check out the festival,” Wan says, “that would be the day.”

• Wan says hosting the fest across so many different cities and venues is “a labor of love” for organizers. “A big question we’ve been asking is how do we bring the festival to where people are without breaking the bank?” she says. Organizers are hoping for festival attendance to hit 40,000 for this year’s event.



Cinetopia Film Festival

Friday-May 19

In venues in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Township, Royal Oak and Dearborn

Single screening tickets $12 for members, $15 for non-members; passes $50 and up




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