Friday, 22 March 2013 10:44

April's independent film round up

Written by  Anya Zentmeyer
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Joseph Scott Anthony stars in psychological thriller Burst Theory, the debut feature film by writer/director Zac Page.'

With the eternally overcast, emotional rollercoaster of winter officially behind us, this month refreshes Vitamin D-deficient filmgoers with actual sunshine. Michigan-made films are alive and well, and there's nothing Governor Snyder can do about it.


If there's one thing the people of Grand Rapids love, it's a festival that feeds the creative soul. This month, moviegoers can stop by Art.Downtown on April 12 along South Division's Avenue for the Arts, where they'll find film sprinkled throughout work from more than 300 local artists in more than 30 locations around the city.

Rochester Hills native and current Grand Valley State University student film artist N.J. Philips will screen a film called Cleanse. After losing two friends to suicide, Philips said she channeled her grief into the film, which follows three figures that practice self-inflicted harm.

"She describes her work in four key words: experimental, painful, lyrical and self-infliction," said Annie DeYoung, publicity intern for Art.Downtown.

Kendall College of Art and Design classes will also make an appearance at Art.Downtown, using projects to display film projects on the side of the buildings.

Grab a map for the Art.Downtown venues to find the locations sporting the film badge – a hip little video camera graphic – that will help filmgoers identify what venues are showcasing films and film-related artwork.

Keep up with last-minute announcements online at


Back in December of 2011, a couple Wisconsin scientists generated the 10th strain of the H5NI bird flu virus (the human-to-human revision of the less harmful and bird-only virus phenomena prior). The details of the highly contagious virus were published in a science journal in spring of 2012, essentially providing mad scientists everywhere with an outline for recreating a strain of bird flu that could wipe out millions of people.

Michigan filmmaker Zac Page used the controversy to develop his upcoming psychological thriller, Burst Theory, which follows a group of researchers working on a vaccine for Bird Flu on a remote island – the kind where no one can hear you scream. The characters start to suspect their giant brains are being used by health profiteers to weaponzie the virus.

Page made the film with the intent to pull audiences into a relatable narrative –dealing with the most basic of ethical questions. With corruption and manipulation rampant on the island, researchers aren't sure whether they're letting paranoia get the best of them, or if by developing this life-saving vaccine, they'll end up killing millions more than they're trying to save.

"The big question is what do you do – do you stop it? What kind of moral choice do you make when you're not sure if you're actually pursing the truth?" said Page, who both wrote and directed the film, alongside producer Joe Anthony.

From the locations they used to the cast and crew behind it, Burst Theory is completely Michigan-made, and is currently in post-production with a tentative spring release date.

Find out more about the film online at or look for the "Burst Theory" on Facebook.

After a yearlong hiatus, the Grand Rapids Film Festival is back, and packing more punch than ever as it absorbs the Michigan Film Festival to bring films and film events to area moviegoers throughout several locations in downtown Grand Rapids from May 15-19.

What's that you say, West Michigan? May isn't the same month as April? Though I do often forget what day it is, the name of the current president and where I left my car keys, just stay with me for a second.

Though the new-and-improved festival won't actually be in full swing until mid-May, it will spend April building the infrastructure and looking for quality volunteers to help make it happen.
From ticket sales to high-level volunteer coordination positions, Festival Director Jennifer Shaneberger said they need volunteers across the board.

"We're coming back strong with a bit of the best of both worlds," Shaneberger said. "The Michigan Film Festival was really known for its community initiative, really involving locals and focusing on local arts, Michigan-made films and having a strong educational component. The Grand Rapids Film Festival's focus has always been wonderful independent films."

This year, the GRFF will host a free educational production workshop at Kendall College of Art and Design throughout the entire week, as well as two different panel events housed in the same place. KCAD is one of three festival "hubs," Shaneberger said, also including $5 indie film screenings at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and Grand Valley State University's Loosemore Auditorium, which plays a fitting host for the festival's student submissions.

To fill out the volunteer submission form online, or keep up with GRFF latest news, visit

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