Thursday, 14 July 2016 09:07

Grand Rapids Feminist Film Fest Fires Up, Midnight Movies at Celebration Cinema

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Grand Rapids Feminist Film Festival is accepting submissions until July 15. (Pictured here: A GRFFF 2015 screening at Wealthy Theatre) Grand Rapids Feminist Film Festival is accepting submissions until July 15. (Pictured here: A GRFFF 2015 screening at Wealthy Theatre)

Grand Rapids Feminist Film Festival Fires Up

Two years ago, the folks at The Bandit Zine (a local publication devoted to social-justice issues) premiered the first-ever Grand Rapids Feminist Film Festival. In the short time since, they’ve built quite the audience and drawn in submissions from all over the world. 

Organizers are currently gearing up for the 2016 iteration of the event, which takes place in October. Back in May, GRFFF announced that it was accepting open submissions to the fest. If you’re interested and haven’t yet submitted your piece, you better hurry: All submissions are due by July 15. 

Lydia VanHoven, co-founder and contributor to The Bandit Zine, says the group plans to show roughly 30 films at the fest in October, all of which will be curated from the submissions. 

“In addition, this year we are planning to show some films in the Koning Theatre too,” VanHoven said. “We will still have some panels in this theater, but we’d like to show films as well.”

The rules for submitting work to the fest are pretty simple: The film has to be less than 20 minutes, feature themes of social justice and feminism and be made by one or more members of underrepresented groups. 

“When we say ‘underrepresented groups,’ we’re talking about anyone who is not your typical Hollywood filmmaker — white and male. We are looking for filmmakers of color, LGBTQIA folks, women and anyone whose story is not usually told in a mainstream Hollywood movie,” Van Hoven explained. “We want to make sure that representation of marginalized groups is not just happening in front of the camera, but behind it, too.” 

For more information on submission guidelines and the upcoming 2016 festival, visit


Midnight Movies Series Returns at Celebration! Cinema North

Midnight movies are the stuff of dreams. Or, historically speaking, the stuff of drug-induced fever dreams. For years, films like Eraserhead and Pink Flamingos have graced theater screens during the coveted time slot, simultaneously weirding out and winning over audiences. Think of midnight movies as the stepchild of art film in the form of counter-cultural cult classics, B movies and boundary-pushing genre films.

Celebration! Cinema is no stranger to this term. It started showing midnight movies back in the days of Studio 28 (yeah, I’m dating myself here) and continued up until a few years ago. “It’s something that is part of our history as a company and people who come to our theaters regularly remember it really fondly,” said Eric Kuiper, director of alternative programming at Celebration! Cinema. This past May, the chain brought back the cult favorite with its newly revamped Midnight Movie series. 

“We really wanted to create something that was more than just another showtime,” Kuiper said.

The event takes place every Saturday night at Celebration! Cinema North. Starting at 11 p.m., the lobby atmosphere changes as audiences gather for a pre-show hangout and event. You can also get a special combo pass and enjoy some loaded fries, a beer and one movie pass for a cool $15. 

Once showtime hits, audiences have a handful of new releases to choose from, as well as an alternative title. 

“There is always an alternative title of some kind, whether it’s a cult classic like El Topo or The Room,” Kuiper said. 

The idea to breathe new life into the midnight programming came partially from Kuiper’s time spent in attendance at various film festivals. 

“These festivals, Sundance, Toronto, they all have a midnight category, a space for these genre films,” Kuiper said. “We just haven’t had a great place to showcase any of that content, so that alternative slot every week is going to be filled by some kind of cult classic or a just-released independent genre film.”

Since May, Celebration! Cinema North has been showing a wide variety of alternative titles, from the aforementioned El Topo and The Room to the 2015 Danish horror flick What We Become. The movies themselves are great, but everything that comes along with them are pretty fantastic too. For instance, the Pop Scholars improv team stops by every now and then to provide live commentary for hilariously bad sci-fi classics, and the West Michigan Transylvanian Society has performed a live shadowcast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Kuiper says he hopes to continue the program indefinitely, bringing fresh and exciting alternative titles and events to the theater. Some upcoming Midnight Movies in July include Roasting Midnight Movies: From Justin to Kelly, Turbo Kid and Little Shop of Horrors (lineup subject to change).  

For more information on events and titles, visit

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