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The program notes are another unique feature of the DFT. All three movie palaces include short, solidly written descriptions of films in their schedules, and the DFT takes it one step further with full-page handouts that are either a review of the film, or an essay about the film or the director. Before a film, these notes explain what the viewer is about to experience. If you don't want to risk learning about the film's plot, you can later compare your impressions with those of the writer.
You can also get more insight into DFT films from special introductions by filmmakers, film historians, or Elliot Wilhelm. In 2011, film editor Richard Chew hosted a series of movies that he edited. The annual Cinetopia International Film Festival has brought many directors and other film participants to the stage of the DFT.
If you'd like to read more about films that have appeared at the DFT, pick up a copy of the book VideoHound's World Cinema: The Adventurer's Guide to Movie Watching, by DIA film curator Elliot Wilhelm. This 1999 book is an overview of films from outside the United States, including many that have appeared at the DFT (and will continue to appear, often in restored versions).
Elliott has done a heroic job of cultivating interest in films that are outside of the mainstream. He often introduces special presentations, like a series of films by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, a triple bill of campy horror flicks by William Castle, or a retrospective of films from Poland. Wilhelm also hosts a series of classic American movies on public television. Wilhelm's infectious enthusiasm for film can be summed up in this line from World Cinema: "...I get my hopes up every time I go to the movies."
Restored films are an important part of the educational mission of the DFT. The painstaking efforts of archivists who rescue old American and foreign films from oblivion are rewarded with showings at film theaters like the DFT. New versions of old American films like The Big Sleep (1946) and Baby Face (1933) have taught viewers about the economic and social pressures on certain films when they were first released.
The DFT has also become actively involved with film festivals. The Friends of the Detroit Film Theatre auxiliary group has helped set up film festival trips to Toronto and New York. In 2013, the DFT joined with the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor to present the Cinetopia International Film Festival.
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Launched November 25, 2005.
Last updated April 19, 2015.
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