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Cinetopia 2018: Bo Burnham's 'Eighth Grade' a hit with audience at sold-out screening

Bo Burnham poses before the press line at the 2018 Cinetopia Film Festival. (Credit: Tyler DePerro)

ANN ARBOR – The line stretched from the Michigan Theater marquee around the corner by Starbucks and past Buffalo Wild Wings heading north on State Street. On the other side of the marquee, those who had not yet purchased tickets stood in a separate line the stretched down Liberty, hoping for a chance to see Bo Burnham's film debut "Eighth Grade," which opened this year's Cinetopia Film Festival Thursday night. We can confidently say that many of these folks were able to get in to the packed Michigan Theater auditorium for the sold-out screening, which no doubt delighted Burnham. He was in attendance to introduce the film and stuck around for audience questions as the credits rolled. 

(Credit: Matt Giles)

(Credit: Matt Giles)

(Credit: Tyler DePerro)

"I really wanted to get into doing something [like this], just to collaborate with people," Burnham said of the journey from script to screen when I interviewed him before the premiere.

"I spent a few months writing the script and then it's just been a long process of working with other people and collaborating with other people, and managing their talents, being a fan of their talents and slapping my name at the top and calling it all mine at the end," Burnham joked. 

(Credit: Tyler DePerro)

Burnham said the writing process was pretty quick in terms of having the idea and completing the finished script.

"I stumbled on the voice of this kid and really liked it and then did an initial draft within a couple weeks, very very quickly. And then over a year or so as I was doing standup and wasn't in the position to make a film, I was revisiting it and making sure I was keeping it current," Burnham said. "From there it was just keeping an eye on it and also leaving a little bit open to the kids when they actually get there -- to be filled by what the kids know, which I can't know." 

Burnham also enjoys Ann Arbor, and has been to the mitten several times in the past.

"It's amazing," Burnham said with a smile on his face. "I'm from north Massachusetts and it reminds me a lot of that -- the sort of place that's built for the snow and weather. The sweet bricks and Chipotles and coffee places. I'm right at home." 

(Credit: Tyler DePerro)

"Eighth Grade" is a charming and quite funny debut from a very talented filmmaker. Whether you identify as male or female, you cannot help but relate to Kayla's story. Others all had the same reaction after seeing the movie: "That was me in eighth grade 100 percent." 

Elsie Fisher gives a truly stellar performance in the film to the point that the audience would laugh out loud at some of her awkward mannerisms (all of which were scripted and intended) and gasp at moments where they felt she was in danger, whether it was emotionally or physically. Kayla is the type of character for whom you instantly root, flaws and all.

(Credit: Matt Giles)

(Credit: Tyler DePerro)

Kudos to the entire Cinetopia team for choosing this movie as the opening night premiere. It sets a perfect tone for the rest of the festival and is a wonderful example of what Cinetopia is meant to be: a shared experience among cinephiles and general movie fans alike, to debate, argue and sometimes agree on the merits of what they just saw. "Eighth Grade" just happens to be one of those rare films where no one walked out having hated what they just watched. The consensus was clear: "Eighth Grade" was a hit with the Cinetopia audience. 

Stay tuned for more updates from the Cinetopia Film Festival 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 #Cinetopia2018.

Planning to attend the festival? Tickets to individual films are now available and the full lineup of films can be found at cinetopiafestival.org/schedule.

More from Cinetopia 2018:

Opening and closing night films announced

'A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night' screens June 1 and 10

Michigan filmmakers come home

Festival to screen 'Thirst for Justice' in celebration of Mayor's Green Fair June 8

Lesser-known films that deserve your attention

Eight films we're most excited about

Three new films added to the lineup

Opening night preview

Check out more Ann Arbor events on the A4 Community Calendar 

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