Midtown indie movie house will use funds to stay afloat during COVID-19 shutdown

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Midtown movie theater Cinema Detroit has received a $10,000 grant from filmmaker Ava DuVernay, part of her non-profit foundation's $250,000 funding initiative. 

Cinema Detroit is one of 14 recipients of grant funds from Array Alliance, which was founded by DuVernay — the acclaimed director of "Selma" and "A Wrinkle in Time," along with the Netflix documentary "13th" and the Netflix mini series "When They See Us" — in 2018 to provide women and people of color with resources to carry out their artistic visions. 

Cinema Detroit will use the funds to help during the COVID-19 shutdown. The non-profit two-screen independent movie house, which opened in 2013, has been shut down since mid-March and is currently offering virtual screenings of its movies and selling concessions in an effort to stay afloat. 

The $10,000 grant "is going to help us survive," says Cinema Detroit's Paula Guthat. "It’s not going to cover everything, by any means, but we’re going to be able to not permanently close."

Guthat has shown several films from the Array Releasing lineup over the years, including "Vanishing Pearls" and "The Burial of Kojo," and Guthat was able to attend a three-day summit put on by Array where DuVernay offered words of encouragement. 

The grant money — and DuVernay's support — "is really amazing, and it’s humbling," Guthat says. "Just to feel like there’s a network that is dedicated to what we do with storytelling is really encouraging. It’s kind of hard for me to explain, but I think there was an almost instantaneous kinship there."

Other recipients of the grant money include film festivals, including the BronzeLens Film Festival, Cine Latino Film Festival, Gary International Black Film Festival, UrbanWorld Festival, Lumbee Film Festival, Indigenous Film Festival, Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, along with the Houston Museum of African American Culture and the Sankofa Film Society. 

Through its Virtual Cinema platform, Cinema Detroit is currently showing the political documentary "Slay the Dragon," the supernatural romantic comedy "Extra Ordinary" and a handful of other films. 

The theater's lobby is open for concessions from 5-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and from 3-5 p.m. Saturdays.  

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama 

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