Sunday, December 27, 2009

Detroit indie fest fast taking shape

Entries are pouring in for the first Detroit Independent Film Festival. Festival director Robert Joseph Butler says more than 100 movies have been submitted for the March 3 - 7 event at the new Burton Film Theatre on Cass Ave. The festival is priding itself on being a filmmakers'-run event, so entries are selected and judged largely by peers. The other attraction is the lack of entry fee, a boon to small filmmakers struggling financially. The fest will also be a huge showcase for Michigan talent. And what better time, with the state's nascent big budget picture industry taking shape. While Hollywood is becoming entrenched in these parts the public isn't as aware of the numerous state filmmakers. Take a look at the festival's website ( for already-posted noiminations in categories like Best Michigan Feature (seven), Best Actress (nine), Best Cinematographer (11) and Best Screenplay (12). These are for films previously shown at 2009 festivals. On hand at DIFF will be cult director and producer Lloyd Kaufman of NYC-based Troma Entertainment (The Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke 'Em High and Tromeo and Juliet). Butler himself has written, produced or directed eight short films, six that have played on the festival circuit. Some well-established Michigan film talent will be judging. This includes Lon Stratton known for his features, docs and commerical work including Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and Chris Bondy founder and education director of the Michigan Dramatic Arts Studio which trains would-be cinematographers and actors. Butler said if there is any theme so far from entries it is "struggle and hope" which may "resonate with many of us today."

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