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Cinetopia Film Festival 2018: Opening and closing night films announced

Elsie Fisher in "Eighth Grade" and Gild Radner in "Love Gilda" (Credit: Michigan Theater)

ANN ARBOR – The 2018 Cinetopia Film Festival runs May 31 through June 10 at venues spanning from Ann Arbor to Detroit and, as always, will feature an impressive lineup of films from the world’s best film festivals (e.g. Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, etc.). We happen to have your first look at the festival's opening and closing night films. Are you ready? Drum roll please... 

This year's opening film is "Eighth Grade," Bo Burnham's feature-film debut starring Elsie Fisher as Kayla Day, an eighth-grader who -- to put it mildly -- is struggling to find herself and finish her last week of classes before transitioning into high school. She is a character who always has her phone in hand, hoping to find connections online that might make up for those she’s unable to forge in everyday life, and the film itself is "a keenly observed and achingly funny portrait of the insecurities and absurdities of being 13 in a world where one’s private experience is lived publicly online," according to the Sundance Film Festival. The film is also a showcase for Fisher, who anchors the film with "a dynamic portrayal that feels both incredibly specific and heartbreakingly universal," the Sundance Film Festival wrote.        

Writing for rogerebert.com, Nick Allen echoed Sundance's sentiment. "Using precision in dialogue, tone and character, Burnham is able to make unique comedy about things that have been normalized in 2018, like school shooting drills and the toxic wave of fake-woke dudes," Allen wrote. He went on to write that the film is "a fresh comedy that truly pops and captivates."

"Eighth Grade" will screen one night only on May 31 at 8 p.m. in the Michigan Theater auditorium and Burnham will be at the screening for a discussion immediately following the film's Midwest premiere. What we're saying, in other words, is that you won't want to miss this kick-off of the festival, which will also include the opening night party for All-Access Festival Pass holders (details to be announced soon). 

“Opening night is going to be huge,” Ariel Wan, director of marketing and programming at the Michigan Theater, said. “It’s exactly how we wanted to set the tone for the rest of the festival: lots of energy, amazing new films and in-person discussions with the filmmaker and talent. In fact, we’ll have the most talent and special guests this year than any previous season.”

Closing out Cinetopia 2018 will be "Love Gilda," a touching documentary about Detroit native Gilda Radner, the influential female comedian best known for her groundbreaking work on the small screen. 

"Director Lisa D’Apolito uses rare personal recordings and journal entries to tell Radner’s story in her own words," Dan Hunt wrote in his Tribeca Film Festival summary. "Along the way, friends and admirers, including Amy Poehler, Cecily Strong, Lorne Michaels, and a host of others, offer their most cherished memories of this brilliant trailblazer. What results is a touching tribute to and a fascinating contemplation of the comedian’s enduring cultural impact." 

"Love Gilda" will screen at 2 p.m. on June 10 at the Detroit Film Theatre and is sure to be the perfect ending to a fantastic festival. D’Apolito, Radner’s brother, Michael and others will be on hand after the Michigan premiere for a discussion about the film and Radner's work. More details will be announced soon. 

“We’re lucky to get to include new voices in documentary and narrative filmmaking in D’Apolito and Burnham," Brian Hunter, programming manager at the Michigan Theater, said. "[Their] works capture the humanity and grace of a moment when someone recognizes that who they are is important and what they have to say and how they feel actually matters. That moment, connected to all the other moments in a life, the good and the bad, where someone recognizes their voice and uses it.”

Stay tuned for more updates from the Cinetopia Film Festival each week from All About Ann Arbor. To learn more about the festival itself, visit cinetopiafestival.org. You can also "Like" Cinetopia on Facebook and follow them on Twitter while also making sure to use the hashtag #Cinetopia2018. 

Early bird passes for the festival are available at a discounted rate through Friday. A Festival Pass will give you "all access" to parties, hospitality suite, films and more at Cinetopia 2018, while the All-Movie gets you into just the films. 

Check out more Ann Arbor events on the A4 Community Calendar 

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