Cinetopia Film Festival Celebrates Glory Days of Independent Film

 02/24/2017 - 03:17

This spring, Cinetopia Film Festival and Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater will celebrate the glory days of Art House cinemas with a new film series: CINEMA REVOLUTION: The Independent Films That Defined a Genre. The eleven film series captures the spirit of cinematic revolution—a revolution that disrupted the Hollywood Studio system, created contemporary foreign film culture and brought to light visionary American directors and new generations of cinematic voices.

The series kicks off on Monday, March 27  at 7:00 PM with Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic BREATHLESS. The series continues every Monday through May 29 with a journey through the major eras of independent cinema, from the Mid-Century Art House of Godard and Fellini through the box office successes of the “Indiewood” era of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Several of the films highlighted have a strong University of Michigan connection—the archives of Orson Welles, John Sayles, Robert Altman, and Ira Deutchman have all been donated to U-M’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers archive at the Hatcher Library.

A full curatorial statement and schedule follows:


The Art House is the independent counterweight to the mainstream movie machine. Art Houses sprang to life in post-war America, giving space to new cinema voices from, for example, France (Jean-Luc Godard’s BREATHLESS), Italy (Federico Fellini’s SATYRICON) and American’s cinema underground (Robert Downey Sr.’s PUTNEY SWOPE):

  • Monday, March 27,  Breathless (1960, 7:00 PM
  • Monday, April 3,  Fellini Satyricon (1969),  7:00 PM
  • Monday, April 10,  Putney Swope    (1969) , 7:00 PM


Youthful Baby Boomers reveled in the campus cinema movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Campus film societies and clubs provided an entry point for conversations about injustice and revolution, while introducing a new audience to some of the most iconic filmmakers of all time: Hollywood mavericks from years past (Orson Welles’s CITIZEN KANE); the French New Wave filmmakers who worshipped them (Francois Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT); American Independent film icons (John Cassavetes’s A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE); and a female filmmaker who won an Oscar for a politically charged documentary (Barbara Kopple’s HARLAN COUNTY, USA):


  • Monday, April 17, Citizen Kane (1939), 4:00 PM
  • Day for Night (1973), 7:00 PM
  • Monday, April 24, A Woman Under The Influence (1974), 7:00 PM
  • Monday, May 1, Harlan County, USA (1976), 7:00 PM



Our series concludes with shining examples of the golden era of Art House cinema. “Indiewood” was the moniker for this age—a period of award recognition and box office success that demonstrated the Art House had found a “groove” in the final decades of the 20th Century. The selections here represent the wide variety of films that have made their home in Art Houses: Fresh and funny takes on serious topics, like race and otherness (John Sayles’ film THE BROTHER FROM THE OTHER PLANET); iconic British period pieces which became monster hits (Merchant Ivory’s A ROOM WITH A VIEW, featuring an all-star cast including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter); and small, literary dramas featuring career-making turns by young actors (Gus Van Sant’s MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Henry” plays and stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves). The series concludes with THE PLAYER, Robert Altman’s brilliant satirical comedy on the tottering Hollywood studio system.

  • Monday, May 8, The Brother from Another Planet (1984),  7:00 PM
  • Monday, May 15, A Room with a View (1985), 7:00 PM
  • Monday, May 22, My Own Private Idaho (1991), 7:00 PM
  • Monday, May 29,  The Player (1993), 7:00 PM

This series of Art House cinema icons was selected in cooperation with a true Indie film icon, IRA DEUTCHMAN. Deutchman developed his passion for films in middle school in the movie palaces of his Chicago-area neighborhood. He watched the burgeoning Art House scene in New York City as a high schooler in New Jersey, before beginning his career at the campus film society of Northwestern University. He then launched an inspiring career as a pre-eminent voice in independent cinema marketing, distribution, and production. He was a founder of Cinecom and Fine Line Features, was an original creative advisor to the Sundance Institute, the chair of the Film Program at Columbia University School of the Arts, and recently joined an elite group of creators by donating his archives to the University of Michigan’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers archive collection. He will be honored this summer at the Cinetopia Film Festival as part of the Screen Arts Mavericks and Makers Symposium.

Deutchman, recently honored with the Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art House Convergence, a national organization for independent exhibition, will help kick off the series at an invitation-only cocktail party on March 5 at the Michigan Theater.

Tickets are now available; see the full list of films at Support for the Cinetopia Film Festival and the Cinema Revolution series comes from Michigan Medicine and the Knight Foundation.

About the Michigan Theater: Now celebrating its 90th year, the Michigan Theater is Ann Arbor's award-winning non-profit historic center for fine film and performing arts. The Michigan Theater welcomes more than 300,000 visitors each year to its art house films, concerts, lectures, live theater, and special programs such as Direct from Sundance and Cinetopia Film Festival. The Michigan Theater also owns and operates the historic State Theater located just up the street at 233 State Street. The Michigan Theater is located in downtown Ann Arbor at 603 East Liberty Street.  Visit or call the 24-hour information line at (734) 668-TIME for schedule and ticket information.

About Cinetopia Film Festival: Named the best Detroit area film festival by the Metro Times two years running, Cinetopia Film Festival brings the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW and Tribeca home to Southeast Michigan every June. The 2017 Cinetopia will run June 1-11 throughout the Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor area. For more information, visit

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