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Local News / Entertainment

Tuesday, 2 March, 2010 1:45 AM

The Detroit Independent Film Festival kicks off today and runs through Sunday

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The Burton Theatre is located at 3420 Cass Ave. in Detroit.

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The DeRoy Auditorium is located at 5203 Cass Ave. in Detroit.


by Jason Rzucidlo


DETROIT -- The 1st Annual Detroit Independent Film Festival (DIFF) begins today at the new Burton Theatre in midtown Detroit. More than 80 films will be shown during the run of the festival, which runs through Sunday. Highlights include the U.S. premiere of George A. Romero's "Survivial of the Dead," a special guest appearance by Lloyd Kaufman, the Michigan premiere of "Mango Tango" and "Is It Just Me?" The DIFF will also honor the best best Michigan shorts, features and performances with the Michigan Film Awards.

"We didn't charge any entry fees for any of the filmmakers," said Aaron Karns, marketing director of DIFF. "Filmmaking is expensive and sending them to film festivals is really expensive. We invited all Michigan filmmakers who had any works shown at any festival in Michigan to submit their films for the Michigan Film Awards. We're trying to build a community here with Michigan filmmakers.

"Babysitter Wanted" is the first film that will be screened during the festival. It is a horror movie inspired by an evening news report about a family that was murdered on a small farm. It was written and directed by Michael Manasseri of Big Screen Michigan. Next is "Litterbug," a movie written and directed by Mikey Brown. It is a feature film that is described as a coming-of-age romantic comedy that you can dance to.

Wednesday will begin with the screening of “Paultrygeist: Night of The Chicken Dead.” Troma CEO/filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman will host a question-and-answer session right after the screening. Next is "The Stevie Wonder Show," a movie that takes a satirical look at the power of reality TV and the line it creates between fame and infamy. Closing out Wednesday night will be the world premiere of "You Can't Rent Here Anymore," which is described as a "Clerks"-like black comedy that turns into a horror film.

"The Burton Theatre is awesome, it has a completely different feel from other theaters you may go into," Karns added. "It's really a good atmosphere, there's not one bad seat in the house. You have old State Theatre seating, because they took out some seats from the old State Theatre, so we have those seats. It gives more of a Detroit feel in there. It has a brand-new HD projector, it's got great sound. A wonderful place in midtown Detroit."

The U.S. premiere of the Canadian documentary "Eddies" will take place on Thursday. It is a documentary about a Canadian beer commercial competition. It follows six groups of producers on their race to create a TV commercial. Next is the Michigan premiere of "The Woman from Sarajevo," directed by Israeli filmmaker Ella Alterman, who will be in attendance to discuss the film. It is the story about a Siberian family who hid a Jewish family during WWII and saved its members from death.

"Some of them have been shown at the Main Art Theatre, not the DIA yet," the marketing director said. "We're working on on that right now. We have a couple of academic programs. There are some that are being shown from Wayne State. They have a lot of good works. We're pleased to show the movie and have Wayne State be a sponsor to us. It's really helpful. They're also offering up the DeRoy Hall for our Michigan Film Awards. We'll be able to get more people in the hall."

Friday will begin with the U.S. premiere of George A. Romero's "Survivial of the Dead," the sixth film from "The Dead Zombie" series. Next up is the Michigan premiere of "Is It Just Me?" a gay romantic comedy about a single gay man looking for love, without much success.

The 1st Annual Michigan Film Awards will take place on Saturday at the DeRoy Auditorium on the campus of Wayne State University. More than 125 films are in the running for an award. Screenings will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the awards ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m.

"The films are being judged by all types of different people," Karns said. "We sent them out to some Wayne State professors, OU professors, OCC professors, and the Detroit Critics Society. We had a lot of great people watch the films. We were very biased on the people we had watch the films and partake in the judging. We went out of our way to find some great people to judge these categories."

The Michigan premiere of "Mango Tango" will also be shown on Saturday. It is about Marlene, a New York City dance dear who's driven to therapy by the increasing neurotic men she meets.

The final day will be Sunday, when the Detroit premiere of the documentary "Official Rejection" will be screened. It follows a group of filmmakers as they take their film around the festival circuit and explore the politics, pitfalls, triumphs and comic tragedies they encounter along the way. It includes key interviews with filmmaker Kevin Smith, Lloyd Kaufman, Bryan Singer, Andy Dick, and Chris Gore.

The Detroit premiere of "The Twenty" will also take place on Sunday. It was directed by Michigan native Chopper Bernet, who is now an actor residing in California. The film is about a married man who discovers a twenty dollar bill that has a hidden message that holds answers to his past.

"We have an online film festival that is free," the marketing director added. "We selected 10 films that were really good, but just didn't make it into our competition that we are showing online we started last week. People can go there and watch 10 movies for free and decide who the winner of that is. That's going to be an audience award. They can do it anytime. All you have to do is sign up, you pick a winner and Indie Flicks gives them a distribution deal."

For more information on the Detroit Independent Film Festival, visit

Click Here for the complete list of Michigan Film Awards nominees.





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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.