Here’s what to watch this week at Michigan Theater’s virtual movie palace 06/29 - 07/5


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Not yet open to the public, Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater is still offering movies for rent through its virtual movie palace. Each week, it offers new movies as well as a collection of documentaries, experimental films, comedies and animated films, among others.

Partnering with several film distribution companies, the independent theater offers a variety of films while donating a portion of ticket proceeds to the Michigan Theater Foundation.

Movies can be streamed through different devices like phones, tablets, laptops and smart TVs.

Rent films through the theater website or individual movie pages. 

New films this week:

John Lewis: Good Trouble

PG -- $12 -- Starts Friday, July 3

Chronicling over 60 years of social activism and legislative action by Congressman John Lewis, the documentary uses interviews and archival footage to explore moments in Lewis’ life. 

Following the feature is a pre-recorded discussion between Representative Lewis and Oprah Winfrey.

Mr. Topaze

Not rated -- $12 -- Starts Friday, July 3

Directed by comedy icon Peter Sellers, Mr. Topaze follows proud Albert Topaze as he goes from an unemployed schoolmaster to turning the tables on corrupt city council member Castel Benac. 

The 1961 film was digitally restored at the request of the British public from the last known surviving 35mm prints.

One Small Step Shorts

Not rated -- $8

The 84-minute compilation is of 12 new and acclaimed family-friendly animated short films including Maestro, Gopher Broke, After the Rain, One Small Step, The Green Bird, Jubilee, Achoo, Outdoors, Voyagers, Borrowed Time, Bear Story and O28.

Rainbow Retrospective: A Decade of Queer Comedy Shorts

Not rated -- $10 -- Ends Tuesday, June 30

A 77-minute collection of LGBT comedy shorts from the past ten years, the six films have been curated by Derek Horne, programming director of the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. 

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Here’s what is already playing:


Not rated -- $12

Aspiring chef Abe is often caught in the middle of his family’s conflicting Jewish and Muslim identities. While exploring Brooklyn, New York, the 12-year-old meets Chico, a Brazilian chef who takes Abe under his wing.


Not rated -- $12

A romantic drama, the film follows Parisian Aviva as she falls in love with Eden from New York. Played by four different dancers and actors the two characters express their shifting identities through movement and dance. 


Not rated -- $12

Conductor Eduard Sporck accepts the task of creating an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra but is forced to help the conflicting youth to find harmony while they prepare for a concert.

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy

Not rated -- $9.99

The documentary follows the life of two-time James Beard Award winner Diana Kennedy with extensive interviews.


Not rated -- $10 (with Michigan Theater discount code)

As single mother Kathy cleans out her late sister’s house, she realizes how little she knew about her sister. Meanwhile, her son Cody befriends Korean War veteran Del and slowly gains the confidence to come out of his shell.

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things

Not rated -- $12

The 90-minute documentary goes through the life of Ella Fitzgerald by exploring five decades of reflection and music through interviews, photos and music.

Hail Satan?

R -- $5 -- Ends Tuesday, June 30

The 95-minute documentary shows how members of the Satanic Temple organize public actions to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority.

Kinshasa Makambo

Not rated - $10

Presented in Lingala and French with English subtitles, the documentary highlights Ben, Jean Marie and Christian as they contemplate their actions during demonstrations in the Democratic Republic of Congo when the country’s president sought a third term in 2015. 

The film has been shot through a handheld camera carried by the protagonists. 

The Last Tree

Not rated -- $10

The semi-autobiographical and coming-of-age story of Femi, a British boy of Nigerian heritage, The Last Tree follows his life from a fostered childhood in rural England to living in inner-city London with his biological mother.

Lucky Grandma

Not rated -- $12

After a visit to a fortune-teller, Grandma Wong heads to a local casino. After going all-in she soon finds herself in the middle of a war between two rival Chinatown gangs.

Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba

Not rated -- $10

Internationally-known, Miriam Makeba’s music and life are explored through archival footage and interviews in the 90-minute documentary.

Marona’s Fantastic Tale

Not rated - $10

The animated French-language film shows the life and human companions of its canine protagonist, Marona. It shows that love and happiness are different for dogs.

This virtual release includes a pre-recorded interview with the director, Anca Damian.

The Mindfulness Movement

Not rated -- $10 (nonmembers); $8.50 (students/senior/veterans); $8 (members)

The 100-minute documentary follows the growing number of people who believe that non-judgemental mindfulness is what will heal society and lead to happiness.

The Motions of Stillness

Not rated -- $3 (free for Michigan Theater members)

A Michigan Theater original, the documentary was shot in an Ann Arbor nature preserve on April 15 by Michigan Theater Technical Director Jared Van Eck.

Picture of His Life

Not rated -- $9.99

Considered to be one of the greatest underwater photographers, Amos Nachoum is known for capturing up-close photos of apex predators.

The English, Hebrew, and Inuktitut language documentary chronicles Nachoum’s determination to photograph a polar bear and incorporates his backstory of traumas and sacrifices.

Pioneers of Queer Cinema

A trio of classic films from the days of early queer cinema. Victor and Victoria (1933), Mädchen in Uniform (1931) and Michael (1924) explore themes of requited feelings, gender-bending and romance.

Each film can be bought individually for $7 or $8 or as a bundle for $15. 

Quarantine Cat Film Festival

Not rated -- $12

A compilation reel from over 1,200 amateur video submissions, the cat-based film festival raises money for independent theaters.

Reggae Boyz

Not rated -- $12

The documentary follows Winfried Schäfer, amateur soccer player Tuffy and Jamaica’s national soccer team, the “Reggae Boyz,” as they try to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.


Not rated -- $12

Through interviews and animations, the 2019 documentary depicts Olympian Guor Mading Maker’s upbringing in Sudan, his separation from his parents, his relationship with running, and difficult choices he has had to face.


R -- $5.99

Played by Elisabeth Moss, American horror writer Shirley Jackson and her husband (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) toy with a newlywed couple as Jackson begins writing a new masterpiece.

Sometimes Always Never

PG-13 -- $12

Played by Bill Nighy, tailor Alan tries to repair his relationship with his youngest son, Peter, while solving the mystery of an online Scrabble player who might be his missing son, Michael.


Not rated -- $12

American expatriate Tommaso wanders through life and the streets of Rome as he deals with his past, his self-esteem and an impaired grasp on reality. The 2019 film by Abel Ferrara is in Italian and English.

Up From The Streets: New Orleans – The City of Music

Not rated -- $12 -- Ends Tuesday, June 30

The feature-length documentary examines the city of New Orleans through its musical history, culture and community. The film includes archival footage of performances and interviews with New Orleans musicians.

Video Blues

Not rated -- $4.99 (free for Michigan Theather gold members, Ann Arbor Film Festival members)

Emma Tusell’s experimental Spanish-language film reconstructs Tusell’s family history and identity through home video and voice-overs.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.