UPCOMING: Top 10 picks for the 2018 Cinetopia Film Festival, Ann Arbor & Detroit {and a giveaway!}

*Disclosure: I will be receiving media passes for the festival. All opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

This will be my 5th year attending the Cinetopia Film Festival, and the line-up of movies looks fantastic.

Per usual, the festival will mostly be taking place in Ann Arbor during the first weekend and later week, and then will head to Detroit for the second weekend. There are some Dearborn options as well, on the Henry Ford Giant Screen Experience, but the Maple Theater (Bloomfield Hills) is no longer participating, it seems. 

Tickets range from $15 (1 ticket for 1 movie) to $175 (festival pass). Students are able to buy an all-movie pass for only $50. The best way to determine what pass is best for you can be found here at Cinetopia's website:

Without further ado, here are the top ten movies I'm looking forward to seeing at Cinetopia this year:

(all images courtesy of Cinetopia's website)

MIDWEST PREMIERE! Eighth-grader Kayla Day always has her phone in hand, hoping to find connections online that might make up for those she’s unable to forge in everyday life. She makes YouTube videos aimed at other adolescents dealing with similar issues—feelings of isolation, anxiety, and invisibility—but after so easily summoning this wisdom and confidence when addressing her (barely existent) audience, Kayla finds it paralyzingly difficult to apply in real situations. In the final week of a thus-far-disastrous school year—and with high school looming on the horizon—Kayla struggles to bridge the gap between how she perceives herself and who she believes she should be. Writer/director BO BURNHAM, making his feature film debut, delivers a keenly observed and achingly funny portrait of the insecurities and absurdities of being 13 in a world where one’s private experience is lived publicly online. -Sundance Film Festival 2018

This is the opening night movie of Cinetopia and director Bo Burnham will be in attendance!

I'm hoping to make it to this one ... I've heard of Bo Burnham although am not super familiar with his work.

BFFs Angela (MAIA MITCHELL) and Jessie (CAMI MORRONE) are high school dropouts working dead-end waitressing jobs in the same shitty diner. Their dream vacation to sunny Galveston, Texas, is only a few shifts away. But after a drug deal goes bad and their home is invaded—and they have to serve a short stint in juvenile detention—their beach trip is in serious jeopardy. They’ll have to use every bit of guile their perpetually buzzed teenage brains can muster as they try to get (relatively) rich quick while wandering suburban Dallas. AUGUSTINE FRIZZELL directs her scrappy debut feature with infectious energy and style. Co-stars Mitchell and Morrone imbue Angela and Jessie with such gonzo charm and stoned drive that it’s impossible not to root for them, no matter how misguided their scheme may be.. Never Goin’ Back is an engaging shaggy-dog crime story for the Snapchat generation. -Sundance Film Festival

This one sounds interesting - almost like Waitress but taken in a totally different direction.

Ann Arbor, Michigan is the prototypical college town—a small city with a massive research university, a tradition of political radicalism and Michigan Stadium, the largest in the United States and the home of University of Michigan football. With a capacity of 107,601 the entire population of Ann Arbor fits in the stadium, which fans affectionately call “The Big House.” Michigan football goes back to 1879, and is known for its distinctive winged helmet and its fight song “The Victors.” But this direct-cinema documentary eschews gridiron grandeur to look closely at all the labor—from the cooks to the cops to the cleaners—that goes into hosting 100,000 people. Shot against the backdrop of the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump, it presents a microcosm of America by showing everything but the game.

I'm not usually a big fan of documentaries but this looks interesting. I'm a UM alum so anything about The Big House is usually pretty good.

MICHIGAN PREMIERE! Doom and gloom are on the way. The Y2K apocalypse can't be stopped. Abbie's older brother issues him the ultimate challenge before it goes down: stay on the couch until he beats the infamous Billy Mitchell record on Pac-Man by getting past level 2 No getting up, no matter what. No quitting. Abbie (JOSHUA BURGE, a regular collaborator of Michigan-based director JOEL POTRYKUS) must survive inside a rotten living room with no food or water, and numbnut friends and toxic gas getting in his face. Luckily, Abbie's secret 3D glasses begin to give him new abilities, controlling the powers of his tiny universe. --SXSW

Some of you may remember Joshua Burge from Buzzard, which I saw during my first Cinetopia festival experience in 2014, and I'm curious to see him in this movie.

In the newest film from Cinetopia vet BRETT HALEY (whose The Hero opened Cinetopia 2017), single dad Frank (NICK OFFERMAN) prepares to send hardworking daughter Sam (KIERSEY CLEMONS) off to UCLA pre-med. He also reluctantly has to accept that his own record-store business is failing. Hoping to stay connected with his daughter through their shared love of music, he urges her to turn their weekly “jam sesh” into an actual band. Channeling Sam’s resistance into a band name, they unexpectedly find We’re Not a Band’s first song turning into a minor Spotify hit, and they use their songwriting efforts to work through their feelings about the life changes each of them faces. Also stars TED DANSON, SASHA LANE, BLYTHE DANNER, and TONI COLLETTE. -Sundance Film Festival, 2018

This is definitely more of a mainstream movie, as I've already seen the trailers for it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it. I'm a fan of Nick Offerman, Toni Collette, and the rest of the cast, as well. The official U.S. release date for this one is on June 8.

Collin (Tony Award-winner DAVEED DIGGS (Hamilton)) is trying to make it through his final days of probation for an infamous arrest he can’t wait to put behind him. Always by his side is his fast-talking childhood bestie, Miles (RAFAEL CASAL, who co-wrote the script with Diggs), who has a knack for finding trouble. They grew up together in the notoriously rough Oakland, a.k.a. “The Town,” which has become the new trendy place to live in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. But when Collin’s chance for a fresh start is interrupted by a life-changing missed curfew, his friendship with Miles is forced out of its comfortable buddy-comedy existence, and the Bay boys are set on a spiraling collision course with each other. --Sundance Film Festival, 2018

Though I haven't yet seen Hamilton, I'm a fan of Daveed Diggs from Black-ish, and would like to see this one - I may trek to the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit to see it, as that's closer for me than Ann Arbor.

MICHIGAN PREMIERE! Recently single, Korean-born LA artist Sophia Lee devotes herself to her public performance art, whether it’s a provocative Korean perspective in the park on the LA Riots or quirky digital art on social media. To pay the bills, she does odd jobs for TaskRabbit. When a filmmaker reaches out to discuss an acting role in his film, she is excited to explore the opportunity, only to realize he can’t distinguish between her art and her real-life identity. Played by performance artist VIVIAN BANG (who also co-wrote the screenplay with director DARYL WEIN), Sophia is a delightfully refreshing character to watch. Emotionally open, curious, and unapologetic, Sophia’s art is fueled by unfettered self-expression. Her insatiable thirst for meaning and experience would make anyone want to follow her down the rabbit hole in this quirky, deeply felt dramedy. -- The Film Collaborative

I'm curious to see this one - with a 71-minute runtime, it's short enough that I may be able to squeeze it in between two other movies in Ann Arbor when I go for the Cinetopia weekend, too.

MICHIGAN PREMIERE! ALAN RUDOLPH’s first film in 15 years follows Ray (KEITH CARRADINE) and Helen (SONDRA LOCKE), who–in bizarre, unrelated turns of events–each happen upon large sums of money which give them the chance to re-invent themselves. As they fake their way to the high life, their paths cross, each falling for the other’s “new-and-improved” persona. But as their true selves shine through the act, Ray and Helen find themselves falling in love with the very qualities they are trying to hide in themselves. Also stars KEITH DAVID, SAMANTHA MATHIS, and JENNIFER TILLY.

I'm a Keith Carradine fan, so I'd like to see this one. Interestingly, Cinetopia is also screening The Moderns (1988) with him in it, too. 

When police officer Asger Holm (JAKOB CEDERGREN) is demoted to desk work, he expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman who then disconnects abruptly. Asger, confined to the police station, is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly becomes more clear. The search to find the missing woman and her assailant will take every bit of his intuition and skill, as a ticking clock and his own personal demons conspire against him. This innovative and unrelenting Danish thriller uses a single location to great effect, ratcheting up the tension as twists pile up and secrets are revealed. Winner of the Audience Award - World Cinema Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival. - Sundance Film Festival

This is a Danish movie with English subtitles. I usually really like police dramas, so I'm hoping to fit this one into my schedule. 

MICHIGAN PREMIERE! Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their Ma and Paps have a volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over, leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel ultimately harden and grow into versions of their father. Jonah—the youngest, the dreamer—becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. With a screenplay by DAN KITROSSER and director JEREMIAH ZAGAR based on the celebrated JUSTIN TORRES novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by strikingly layered performances from its astounding cast, elements of magical realism, and unbelievable animated sequences. Though known for documentaries, Zagar reinvents his career by transforming a landscape of childhood alienation and turning it into a fever dream careening toward the future. --Sundance Film Festival 2018

I'm usually a fan of "coming of age" movies, so I'd like to see this one.

Honorable mentions:
1. Nico
5. Beauty and the Dogs

Cinetopia staff picks:

The staff of the Cinetopia festival recently discussed their top 8 picks from the festival, too, and here are their top 5 (three of which I've already mentioned in this blog post!):

1. Eighth Grade (Opening Night)
2. Blindspotting (Friday, June 8)
3. Love, Gilda (Closing Film, June 10)
4. Supa Modo
5. Woman Walks Ahead (with Jessica Chastain and Michael Greyeyes)

And Caitlin Drzewiecki, festival manager, has chosen these as her top 5 choices:

2. Never Goin' Back
4. Beauty and the Dogs


One of my lucky readers will win two all-movie passes, which will get you in to ANY movie at the festival! ($250 value!)

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 23rd, and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. 

Winner will be able to redeem their two passes on Cinetopia's website. 

Detroit area and Ann Arbor area residents only, please.

Good luck!

Two Cinetopia all-movie passes ($250 value!)

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