film

Filmstrip festival a nod to a simpler time

Jul 29, 2015
Rosie Flickinger started the so-called filmstrip festival 10 years ago.
Tom Carr

Thousands will line up this week with their tickets in hand for the Traverse City Film Festival. But a few miles to the south, the Traverse City Filmstrip Festival at East Bay Branch Library will celebrate a less glamorous medium.

Before YouTube and before videotapes, school kids saw a lot of filmstrips, like the one Rosie Flickinger shows. It’s a story told and sung by the late Pete Seeger.

 She clicks the filmstrip ahead every time she hears the beep on the audio cassette.

Flickinger, a librarian, started the so-called filmstrip festival 10 years ago, when the Traverse City Film Festival was young. The event is really just a couple showings of filmstrips.


With VHS camera in hand, Michigan native Jerry White Jr. and friends recorded over 400 hours of experimental video art and comedy sketches in a Detroit-area public access TV show they called 30 Minutes of Madness.

This year’s Traverse City Film Festival will include a very special moment.

Legendary producer, director, actor, and screenwriter Roger Corman will receive the Michigan Filmmaker Award.

Utopia Foundation

A foundation in Traverse City is sending money to a children’s center in Nepal. The money goes to a woman raising 48 children in Katmandu. They are left homeless and sleeping in a field after the earthquake.

Paul Sutherland says, because banks are closed in that country, the Utopia Foundation had to hand-deliver cash.

“I want to make sure those children are able to survive this and are fed and safe. And that means you’re trying to act as fast as we can,” he says.

1968 was a very tense and pivotal year in Detroit's history. The city was putting itself back together again after the riots in July of '67.

That was the year 38-year-old priest Thomas Gumbleton became a Catholic bishop, and set about working to unite black and white parishes in the Detroit Archdiocese.

Today, after a lifetime of fighting for peace, justice and equality, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is 85. And his life is now a film. American Prophet written, produced and directed by his parishioner Jasmine Rivera.

The new film 1971 tells the story of the eight members who made up the self-titled Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI. The group stole more than 1,000 classified documents from the FBI in order to expose some of the government agency's unconstitutional and illegal actions.

The film marks the first time these eight citizens are telling their story. Among them is West Michigan native Bonnie Raines and her husband John Raines.

The Freep Film Festival begins its four-day run tomorrow.

This will be the festival's second year. It will open with a double feature of films from two of the Detroit Free Press' own videographers and photographers.

The first is Fire Photo 1. It revolves around Bill Eisner who has been the unofficial photographer for the Detroit fire department for over 50 years.

Here's a trailer:

This week marks the four year anniversary of the magnitude nine earthquake that hit the coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami, leaving well over 15,000 people dead. The tsunami also caused the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The 87th Academy Awards happens Sunday.

Many would consider an Oscar win to be the pinnacle of success for an actor.

But what of the "Oscar curse?" Does winning that little gold man bring bad luck?

Strategy professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan Michael Jensen says maybe.

This year's Sundance Film Festival has extra-special meaning for a University of Michigan professor.

Phoebe Gloeckner is a professor at the Stamps School of Art and Design. Her 2002 graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl has been made into a feature film starring Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Wiig that will premiere this weekend at Sundance.

Monica & David

Thanks to big advances in pediatric heart care, people with Down Syndrome can now expect to live well into adulthood, which raises new issues around the questions of love, marriage and children for developmentally disabled adults.

Thursday at the Traverse City State Theatre, a love story that won a best documentary award at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010: Monica & David.

The title characters and the film’s director will be in town for a panel discussion following the film, which starts at 5:30pm. IPR talked with them this week.


Michigan used to have one of the most generous film incentive programs in the nation. But when Rick Snyder was elected governor, he cut way back on the film incentives.

For the 2015 fiscal year, the Michigan film incentive program got $50 million, for the third year in a row.

The director of the Michigan Film Office, Margaret O’Riley shared her thoughts about the budget.

O’Riley said the incentive is a cash incentive, versus a tax credit incentive that most states use.  She says this is better for the Legislature because they know exactly how much money is being spent.

“We continue to get a lot of kudos from the industry for having a cash incentive approach,” O’Riley said.

Right now, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are filming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in Pontiac and around Detroit. It's  Michigan’s biggest production to date, with a $131 million budget.

O’Riley said it’s important to have a mixture of big projects, like the Superman movie, and smaller projects to keep Michigan on the radar.

“I’m very proud of the fact that they often comment on the great workforce we have,” O’Riley said. “That coupled with the fact that we have such a variety of locations within a fairly short distance. You can get pretty much any kind of look you want within Michigan within just a short drive.”

There are still critics who say the incentive is a poor use of money, but O’Riley said the amount of money returned to tax payers has increased under the new cash incentive program. 

There are a number of ways to measure the money that comes in: tax dollars that go out versus tax money that comes in to replace it; tax dollars out versus production dollars invested in the state; etc. However, O’Riley said none of these are able to put a dollar value on the cool factor.

“The fact that you’ve got Mark Wahlberg on [The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon talking about what a wonderful time he had in Detroit and that everybody in America should go to Detroit,” O’Riley said. “The fact that we’re able to say Superman was filmed in Michigan; it’s the largest production in the country right now. That’s fabulous!”

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Ever since a student at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School got his first 8mm camera for his 17th birthday, he has searched for good stories to tell.

And tell them he does. That Ann Arbor high school kid was Ken Burns. And since getting that first camera in 1970, Ken has turned his camera and his storyteller's eye to subjects like World War II, the Civil War, the Brooklyn Bridge, baseball, jazz, the West, the Brooklyn Five, and so much more.

Tonight on PBS, Ken Burns brings us his newest story. It's called "The Address."

The film follows the students at a tiny school in Vermont where students are challenged each year to learn and recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

As he follows these boys, Ken uncovers many powerful individual stories and, at the same time, brings us a much-needed reminder of the power of Abraham Lincoln's words.

Ken Burns joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Tom Carr

 

   At the first of the month, the iconic video rental chain Blockbuster will close its remaining stores near Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and across the country.

Many in the media are calling this the end of an era as digital downloads are expected to make video stores a relic of the 1980s and '90s. But Blockbuster left northern Michigan years ago, and the chain that stuck around, Family Video, has no intention of dying off.

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