If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you. If you seek a state in the union with a special spot in the world of cinema (from “Anatomy of a Murder” in Marquette to the gritty “8 Mile” in Detroit,) you need look no further. Michigan is home to great stories and great artists and the selection of Michigan-made films at this year’s festival are no exception. We have a wonderful curation of films made in, set in, and about Michigan that will feature some very special guests. And we will also be featuring some selections from our State’s next generation of great filmmakers. Check out the Michigan-based films at this year’s festival.
In mid-90s Detroit, a motley crew of young skaters, goths, punks, and other self-described “weirdos” created an anarchic sketch show that aired on public access television called “30 Minutes of Madness.” A local cult hit, everyone involved was sure this real life “Wayne’s World” was their entree to a big time career on MTV or Comedy Central—but then, reality got in the way. Now, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the gang returns to their Michigan hometown in an attempt to rediscover the creative mojo that once provided such an exhilarating outlet. In Person: Director Jeremy Royce, producer and subject Jerry White Jr., and “30 Minutes of Madness” cast members.
Today’s singles are inundated with all the newfangled ways to meet mates: online sites; speed dating; panels of experts on reality TV. But 33-year-old Kelly has chosen to put her faith in God and Christian Courtship, a practice where couples give over control of their dating lives to their family, and save even their first kiss for marriage. It’s a challenge for devout Kelly, since her own parents don’t agree with the plan, and she has already pursued conventional dating. Undeterred, she finds spiritual parents in Grand Rapids who agree to take her in and keep her as long as they need to, until they find her the right match. In her first feature, Amy Kohn tackles a sensitive subject and a deeply interesting personal story with openness and tact, creating a poignant portrait of a woman who, like everyone else, just wants to be loved. In Person: Director Amy Kohn.
When she was a little girl, Petoskey native Sharon Shattuck’s dad told her that when she got married, he hoped he could wear a dress to walk her down the aisle. Not long after that, while his children were in middle school, Sharon’s father came out as transgender and changed his name to Trisha. His transition was difficult for Sharon’s straight-identified mother to accept, but Sharon’s parents stayed together. When Sharon’s family reunites years later to plan her wedding, she takes up her camera to explore the unorthodox relationships of her family and flesh out the conversations she spent so many years avoiding. Juxtaposing candid home videos from her father’s pre-transition years with present day footage, Shattuck has created an intimate and touching portrait of a modern American family. In Person: Director Sharron Shattuck, Marcia and Trisha Shattuck.
Hailing from our very own Flint, MI, scrappy 17-year-old boxing phenom Claressa “T-Rex” Shields has her sights set on earning gold at the 2012 Beijing Olympics—the first time the games have featured women’s boxing. Tough as nails from life on the mean streets of Flint, she’s got the grit, determination, and ferocity to train and compete at the highest levels. Not even her family’s crazy daily drama can derail her from pursuit of Olympic glory—for boxing may well be her only shot at lifting her family out of poverty. Don’t miss one of our favorite films of the festival, an inspiring, feel-good documentary from first-time filmmakers Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari about triumphing over adversity and fighting for your dream. In Person: Director Zackary Canepari and subject Claressa Shields.
2015 | USA | NR | 75 min.
Returning to the festival after selling out all of his screenings at TCFF 2014 (and then some), Rick Prelinger presents the world premiere of the fifth in his series of archival urban history explorations of Detroit. He’ll moderate an interactive screening of this newly edited version of his perennially uncompleted film, comprised of home movies made in Detroit from 1920-1970 and footage produced by the industry and government. Filled with humor and surprises, the images of Detroit work and culture, streets and shops, parks and parties counter “ruin porn” stereotypes. The arresting images of a vibrant multicultural city encourage Detroit supporters to contemplate the future of a very complex place. Like Prelinger’s “No More Road Trips?” this won’t be a quiet experience in the dark. Viewers make the soundtrack, identifying places, people, and events, asking questions, and discussing what they see. Don’t wait too long to get your free ticket to this incredibly popular interactive film event. In Person: Director Rick Prelinger.
Michigan-Made Student Films
From the minds of our great state’s next generation of aspiring filmmakers, “(313) Choices” is a contemporary human drama of interwoven stories set in and around Detroit (aka “The 313”). A landmark collaboration between Michigan State University’s Theatre Department and Media Sandbox, the first MSU-produced feature film started as an original student play, and was adapted for the screen with the talents of over 100 passionate and enthusiastic students serving as actors, directors, composers, cinematographers, art directors, and more. In Person: MSU student filmmakers.
The University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts & Cultures returns to the TCFF with their annual program of two shorts showcasing some of our state’s top young filmmaking talent. In Sam Gioia’s “All at Once,” a high schooler has to navigate the dangerous underworld of her small town in order to prove her innocence after being suspected of poisoning her best friend. And in Anthony Kalil’s “Love Assassin,” professional heartbreaker Natalie’s latest target may prove to be more than this young love asssassin can handle. In Person: U of M student filmmakers.
For the second year at the TCFF, we are joined by four outstanding short films from student filmmakers at Michigan State University. This year’s program includes “The Geography of Hope,” a short documentary by the Media Sandbox Street Team about an important nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities visit our National Parks. “Gay From Gaylord” follows a young stand-up comedian who speaks to the challenges he faced growing up in a conservative town. In “Unchecking the Box,” the filmmakers examine the impact of having a “race” box on official forms; and in the comedy “Reservations,” a young man inherits a troubled, run down, terribly managed hotel. In Person: MSU student filmmakers.