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Local News / Entertainment

Saturday, 12 February, 2011 11:27 AM

2nd Annual Detroit Independent Film Festival is scheduled for March 9 - 13

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Detroit Independent Film Festival (DIFF) Marketing Director Aaron Karns and Executive Director Robert Butler.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

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DETROIT -- Last year, the inaugural Detroit Independent Film Festival (DIFF) surpassed expectations with screenings at the Burton Theatre and at Wayne State University. For 2011, the 2nd annual film festival is expanding to include screenings at the Ren Cen 4, the Uptown Birmingham 8 and the Uptown Palladium theaters. The DIFF will kick off on March 9 and will run continuously until March 13. It includes the Michigan Film Awards ceremony, which is scheduled to be hosted in Birmingham.

"There is a lot of stuff going on, it's a five-day event," said Robert Butler, DIFF's executive director. "Opening night is Michigan Filmmaker's Night. It is a celebration of Michigan filmmaking at its finest. We have five big premieres of short films including Michael Allore's World of Art. We have another one called Defying Deletion, which is a fascinating documentary about the current Iraqi massacre that's going on."

Many world premieres will be screened at the 2nd Annual Detroit Independent Film Festival.

"We're going to hold a world premiere of Michael McCallum's new film, Lucky," Butler explained. "He's the acclaimed Michigan filmmaker who did Fairview St. and Handlebar. We're premiering his film on Friday night, which will be March 11. We also have J.C. Calciano's world premiere of eCupid. He's the writer-director of our big hit last year titled, Is It Just Me? We're looking forward to having J.C. out at the festival as well."

Marketing Director Aaron Karns added: "We also have the Michigan premiere opening night is The Beast Pageant. It played at Slamdance this year. It's getting a lot of great buzz here. We think it's going to be a great fit for the Burton Theatre. The crowd should definitely enjoy it."

In 2010, the Michigan Film Awards ceremony took place at the DeRoy Auditorium on the campus of Wayne State University. This year, it is moving to the Uptown Palladium Theater in Birmingham, Mich.

"We're going to be screening all of the nominated films on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12," the executive director added. "It's going to be the Michigan Film Awards competition. All of the nominated features, docs and shorts will be screened at this event. We're going to do the same thing we did last year. We're going to screen the top five nominated shorts with the awards ceremony. The screenings will start at 7:30 and the awards ceremony will begin right at 9 o'clock at the Uptown Palladium Theatre."

Karns explained: "This year, our Michigan Film Awards is going to be very prestigious. It's going to be a nice layout. It's going to be a great feel for all of the filmmakers who came into town and get to enjoy their moment in the sun. It's going to be nice for everybody to come and enjoy the Michigan Film Awards."

Tickets are priced at $7, except for world premieres and Michigan Filmmaker's Night, which are $10.

"The Uptown Film Festival is going to be a little more expensive," Karns said. "If you come to see Kill The Irishman, you have to buy their $150 pass. If you want to see 50 Cent's new movie, you have to buy their $25 pass to see that. A couple differences of what we have going on, but the DIFF stuff ranges between $7 and $10, which is very affordable. The movies are outstanding this year. The Michigan film community is definitely growing and we're seeing that with the work that we have this year."

The Detroit Independent Film Festival is unlike the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival.

"We're different because we stand alone," the marketing director added. "We're not in competition with anybody. You can see that with our partnership with the Uptown Film Festival. We are trying to build the Michigan film community. Obviously, everybody understands that. To show that we're coming together to make one great film festival instead of competing against each other is already showing that we stand apart from some of the other film festivals. We don't have big heads. We're out to promote filmmaking. We're trying to drive a great festival for filmmakers for years to come."

Butler added: "Definitely just the acknowledgement of our festival with the Michigan Film Awards. We hand out awards and nominations. A lot of festivals don't that. I think that's why we have a lot of credibility with the filmmakers in our state because not many festivals do the nominations and the awards in different categories. When they see their actor or cinematographer nominated, it feels more rewarding than just a cash prize."

Many films that were shot across metro Detroit are being screened at DIFF.

"We have tons of films like Lucky by Michael McCallum," the executive director said. "It was filmed in Lansing, it will be the world premiere two days before his big premiere in Lansing. We're playing Annabelle & Bear, which was filmed here. We're also playing Answer This, which was filmed on the U of M campus. Basically, tons of wonderful Michigan films."

In addition, several filmmakers from Los Angeles and New York City will be coming to the festival.

"J.C. Calciano is going to come back from L.A. this year," Karns said. "He's going to be in attendance for his movie. We're looking forward to having him out and doing a Q&A with us. Curtis Jackson and his producer are both going to be in town to do a Q&A. We have another New York filmmaker coming into town for his movie, opening night at the Burton, The Beast Pageant. It will be nice."

A panel discussion with experts from the film industry will take place on Saturday, March 12 at the Uptown Palladium.

"Jeff Spillman is putting together a wonderful panel about a lot of things," Butler explained. "The importance of the incentives and also the importance of distribution. So many hardworking filmmakers who make their films they don't necessarily know the in and outs of distribution. This type of panel is going to enlighten filmmakers and audiences who want to embark in filmmaking. Distribution is a very important key in film."

For more information on the Detroit Independent Film Festival, visit www.midiff.org.

Related Story: Is It Just Me? wins Best Narrative Feature at the Michigan Film Awards

 

PHOTO ©AMERICAJR.com

AmericaJR.com's Jason Rzucidlo reports inside the Burton Theatre, where most of the screenings will take place.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Burton Theatre monthly newsletter

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A look at the snack stand inside the Burton Theatre in midtown Detroit.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A post card for the Detroit Independent Film Festival. NOTE: the festival ends on March 13, not March 12.

 

 

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