The renowned Detroit Film Theatre (DFT) at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is celebrating 40 years of cinematic excellence this January. From Jan. 10 to Jan. 12, 2014, the DFT will screen 10 movies that have been featured throughout the DFT’s history, with a $2 ticket price per movie that harkens back to 1974.
For more than 40 years the DFT has shown award-winning, thought-provoking, national and international contemporary and classic films often not available in mainstream theaters. These 40 years of cinema amount to more than 3,000 films presented over 2,000 weekends with well-over two million viewers.
Legendary film and entertainment icons have appeared in person as part of the DFT program, including Angela Bassett, Richard Chew, Martha Coolidge, Jeff Daniels, Julie Dash, Robert Duvall, Roger Ebert, Milos Forman, James Earl Jones, Molly Haskell, Grace Kelly, Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Michael Moore, Ralph Nader, Rola Nashef, Rosa Parks, Richard Roundtree, Andrew Sarris, John Sayles, Gene Siskel, Bertrand Tavernier, Cicely Tyson, Sigourney Weaver and Stevie Wonder.
The special celebration begins Friday, Jan. 10 with two movies, including the first film ever shown at the DFT, Mon Oncle Antoine. Four movies will be shown on Saturday and another four on Sunday. The weekend will include tributes and memories of the past 40 years, champagne toasts and special DFT chocolate in the elegant Crystal Gallery. Polaroid pictures will be snapped and given to attendees and buttons, t-shirts, posters and other DFT memorabilia will be available for purchase.
On Saturday, Jan. 11, the DIA auxiliary Friends of the Detroit Film Theatre will host the fundraiser “An Affair to Remember.” Tickets are $150 per person and the party features a strolling dinner, open bar, valet parking, special guests, live music, door prizes and a presentation by film curator Elliot Wilhelm, who has been with the DFT since its inception. Entrance to the 9:30 p.m. movie is also included.
Friday, Jan. 10
Mon Oncle Antoine, 7 p.m.
The very first film ever shown at the DFT— in January1974—is an evocative portrait of a boy’s coming of age in wintry 1940s rural Quebec. It has been consistently cited by critics and scholars as the greatest Canadian film of all time. In French with English subtitles.
Talk to Her, 9:30 p.m.
Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar®-winning film is about a bond that develops between two men as they care for two female coma patients. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Saturday, Jan. 11
My Left Foot, 1 p.m.
Daniel Day-Lewis’ stunning performance as Christy Brown, who became a gifted writer despite his debilitating cerebral palsy, is at the core of this inspiring film nominated for five Academy Awards®.
Burden of Dreams, 4 p.m.
Documentarian Les Blank chronicled Werner Herzog’s five-year struggle to complete his dream project, Fitzcarraldo, the story of an obsessed man’s struggle to build an opera house in the Amazon jungle.
In the Mood for Love, 7 p.m.
This elegantly fractured portrait of love and longing in 1960s Hong Kong is one of the most visually breathtaking works of modern cinema. A man and a woman move into neighboring Hong Kong apartments and form a bond when they both suspect their spouses of extramarital activities. In Cantonese and Shanghainese with English subtitles.
The Spanish Dracula, 9:30 p.m.
Filmed at night on the same sets as Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, this 1931 Spanish-language version is even stranger, more disturbing and stylized than its famous sibling. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Sunday, Jan. 12
Russian Ark, 1 p.m.
Using cutting-edge digital technology and 867 actors, Russian director Alexander Sokurov redefined the possibilities of cinema with this vision of centuries of Russian history, filmed within the walls of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in one unbroken, 99-minute shot. In Russian with English subtitles.
Tristana, 4 p.m.
This masterpiece from the great surrealist director Luis Buñuel is the darkly comic, perversely erotic tale of a young orphaned woman (Catherine Deneuve) placed in the guardianship of respected aristocrat Don Lope (Fernando Rey) with troubling results. This is the recently restored, original cut, in Spanish with English subtitles.
El Norte, 7 p.m.
A Guatemalan sister and brother dream of leaving poverty behind and starting a new life in the North (El Norte), but their journey to America is not what they imagined. In K’iche, English and Spanish with English subtitles.
Wake in Fright, 9:45 p.m.
A modern cult classic of Australian cinema, Wake in Fright tells of a young schoolteacher plunged into a nightmarish five-day orgy of gambling, beer and kangaroo hunting. Paranoid and disturbing (and including actual hunting scenes),. As The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael described it, “There’s talent and intelligence in this original film. You come out with a sense of epic horror.”
Hours and Admission
Museum hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62+, $4 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.