You like movies, right? Of course you do. That's like asking if you like pizza. Or beer. Or sex. I mean, really. If you like movies — and I think we've already established that you do — you'll love the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival.
Are visions of red carpet premieres with filmmakers and actresses aplenty dancing through your head? Now in its third year, the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival (DWIFF — that's what the cool kids call it) is the most ambitious of its kind in the Metro Detroit area. The DWIFF is an entirely volunteer-based nonprofit organization supported by gifts and sponsorships from the community. It's housed entirely on the Wayne State University campus and has hosted a number of red carpet premieres and Sundance award-winning films, including the world premieres of Certifiably Jonathan in 2008 and Dear Mr. Fidrych, a film heavily rooted in Detroit nostalgia and made by a local filmmaker, in 2009. Bitch and Bilal's Last Stand both took home accolades from the high-profile Sundance Film Festival.
While the DWIFF features noteworthy films from all over the world, there is a particular bend towards the homegrown. This year, check out Grown in Detroit, a documentary film which delves into the urban farming efforts from a public school of around 300 pregnant and parenting teenagers. The film is both an exploration of this very unique educational program (there are only three schools like this in the United States), in which young women are taught independence in food production and about nutritional foods, as well as a look at how Detroit is in many ways going "back to the roots" by transitioning back to urban farmland primarily by the community. Grown in Detroit is a uniquely "Detroit" film, as well as a significant documentary.
Other standouts include Pizza With Bullets, a feature film about a Mafia don on his deathbed who is revived by the smell of pizza and convinced the pizzamaker is his long-lost son. Pizza With Bullets focuses on the don's wacky, dysfunctional family — think Sopranos gone slapstick.
If comedy suits you, see I Am Bish, the story of Dave "Bish" Bishop, who finds himself alone in the isolated city of Perth after a catastrophic military disaster and does his best to fight the inevitable zombies by calling on the trainings of his heroes: Han Solo, Mad Max and Magnum P.I. Then he finds the sole surviving "hot chick" and tries to impress her with his mad skills.
There is also a selection of children's films and a variety of shorts, many locally-filmed, as well as the annual TechFair. For people interested in the film industry, whether it be a professional passion or idle curiosity, the DWIFF also hosts a TechFair in conjunction with the film screenings. Presentations run Saturday June 26 from 12 to 4 p.m. and include such activities as workshops on Green Screen technology, After Effects, use of RED cameras, a panel discussion on guerilla filmmaking and a presentation from the guys who opened the Burton Theatre on "How to Open Your Own Independent Art House Cinema in Three Easy Steps!" — all of it free.
So, if you like movies— and you do — and you like learning about movies, head over to the Wayne State University campus this weekend and immerse yourself in all that is film. Support independent filmmaking and local filmmakers all while getting a film fix you just can't get anywhere else. It's like our own little Cannes ... without all the douchey celebrities. | RDW
The Detroit Windsor International Film Festival runs Thursday, June 24, through Sunday, June 27. For information on the films, the schedule and to purchase tickets, visit dwiff.org.