While interning at the Michigan Theater Foundation I was given a special project connected to the Theater’s amazing annual festival, Cinetopia! The name alone sounds cool, so you already know. Cinetopia just completed its 6th year this June. I had the pleasure of attending screenings, ushering and attending meetings with administration from renowned venues such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Arab American National Museum and College of Creative Studies. As someone who have a career interest in Arts Administration it was a great opportunity to rub elbows with these professionals.
“Cinetopia promotes a love of cinema arts in community through exhibition and education by bringing celebrated films from around the world to the Detroit Area.” As both an employee of Michigan Theater and attendee of the festival I can truly say Cinetopia lives up to their mission statement. Located in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Dearborn Cinetopia brings these three communities together something that I believe is much needed and extend further than the movie theater.
I personally am an advocate for the arts because I know how transformative the arts can be in people’s lives. As I look out into our nation and see the horrendous and hateful actions happening it breaks my heart. I truly believe alot of our problems stem from misunderstanding – or even a will not to understand. We need to have healthy conversations centered around identity and equity – but that is easier said than done.
I know the arts is the answer and has the potential to help us with this difficult work. Film specifically has the ability to deliver difficult messages and spark conversation. Achieving this goal of diversity has a much greater impact than financially, but more importantly culturally. Films presented during Cinetopia are representative of a diverse community with documentaries such as I Am Not Your Negro, telling the story of renowned black activist James Baldwin and Check It which highlights the lives of individuals in the LGBTQIA community in Washington, D.C. Films such as these have the ability to allow audience members to have a revelation about culture, identity and relationships. Once again a lot of issues in our community, nation and world revolve around a misunderstanding of groups of people. A healthy medium such as a film festival can allow us to tackle stereotypes, generalizations of all kinds and prejudices, enabling us to develop an understanding and mutual respect for each other. This work cantransform lives – it can transform us and how we speak, treat, interact with and love one another. The
impact of this outreach is so great, transforming ourselves as individuals as these films challenge us to
look inward, as well as collectively challenging us to strive towards one united community.