One of the best things about movies is their ability to take you out of the real world for a short while. On the other hand, cinema also gives us the opportunity to delve head first into our global community’s most pressing issues in the form of investigative, informative documentaries. 

The Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Environmental Action Council is a huge proponent of the latter, and has been teaming up with the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) for more than five years to bring eye-opening documentaries to its theater as part of the WMEAC Film Series. 

BEHIND THE CAMERA: Ella Swift, Founder of Burly Mermaid Productions

Written by Justine Burdette | Thursday, 01 December 2016 09:00 |

A Michigan native, Ella Swift earned a masters in Irish literature with a specialty in dramatic literature, studying how folklore was used in early Irish theater. 

Joel Potrykus' "The Alchemist Cookbook" Comes to UICA

Written by Josh Spanninga | Friday, 30 September 2016 14:05 |

Everyone knows the woods of Allegan are a local hotspot of nature and wildlife.

Michiganders all over agree these lush forests are the ideal haven for hiking, bird watching, hunting and… practicing alchemy? OK, so maybe that last part seems a little out there, but not for Joel Potrykus and his crew. These brave local filmmakers used this location for their most recent project, The Alchemist Cookbook

Indie film events, screenings and festivals in September

Written by Josh Spanninga | Thursday, 08 September 2016 14:26 |

Check out these indie film events in September, including a Frank Zappa doc, Saugatuck Short Film Competition, Overcomer Film Series.

Director Amy Heckerling Brings Industry Knowledge to Celebration! Cinema North

Written by Josh Spanninga | Thursday, 08 September 2016 09:40 |

Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Look Who’s Talking — Amy Heckerling’s portfolio is beyond impressive. These are films that embedded themselves into American culture instantly, whose cult followings have only grown over the decades. And now their creator is coming to GR.

Just six or seven years ago, Grand Rapids filmmaker Daniel Falicki was not in a good spot. 

Recently divorced and unemployed, Falicki was going through what he now refers to as an “early midlife crisis.” Then, a neighbor in his apartment complex one day asked Falicki if he could shoot wedding videos. Falicki figured he’d give it a shot, and soon discovered a special knack for film. Before he knew it, he was making commercials.

“It was actually a blessing in disguise,” Falicki said. “They pretty much paid me to learn.”

Grand Rapids Feminist Film Festival organizers are gearing up for the 2016 event and accepting submissions until July 15; The Midnight Movies Series returns to Celebration Cinema with your favorite cult classics. 

Grand Rapids filmmaker Joel Potrykus is on a roll. His project Buzzard premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, was picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories and made a hell of a run through the festival circuit, wowing audiences and critics. 

Last year, Buzzard saw a national limited release, garnering even more acclaim. And 2016 is turning out to be a hell of a year for Potrykus as well. 

It’s entirely understandable if one were to feel a sense of unease upon entering the apartment of Nicholas Hartman, film coordinator for the UICA. 

Lit by wax candles and decked-out with animal skulls, crucifixes and occult memorabilia, it resembles the set of a Vincent Price movie that never was — a horror fan’s paradise. 

“It’s my life, I love that stuff,” Hartman said. “When I was younger, every Saturday night my dad would come home with a box of pizza and a shitty horror movie.”

It only seems fitting that Hartman honor his father by shooting some good old fashioned Satanic-cult mayhem in GR for his upcoming short film Blood for Thy Master. 

While it’s been 35 years since his death, Alfred Hitchcock is still the critics’ darling. If you browse any “greatest films in cinema history” list you’re bound to find Psycho and Vertigo peppered alongside others.

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