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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

The Scoop on What’s Playing During the Detroit Film Theatre’s New Season

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

DIA Film Curator Elliot Wilhelm says this season is all about passion.

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Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

The new season at the Detroit Film Theatre begins in September, and is filled with “passion” says Elliot Wilhelm. As curator of film at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wilhelm tells Detroit Today guest host Travis Wright that all of the films are either narrative or documentary and share that common thread.

He points of that eight of the films are directed by women. There’s a much higher percentage of female directors in independent films than the commercial market.  


The prototypical American independent film “The Fits” is an extraordinary movie, he says, that premiered at Sundance Film Festival.



Wilhelm says the director, Anna Rose Holmer, “clearly wanted to take risks.”

11-year old tom-boy, Toni, hopes to join a group of girl’s dance team at the same gym she boxes at. Toni’s desire for acceptance becomes as complicated as the search for what’s causing a mysterious illness that’s afflicting all of the girls, who are portrayed by teenagers from the same Cincinnati neighborhood.

Wilhelm says, “There are not enough films, clearly, about African-American communities that are looked at in ways that are not stereotypical and this is a story that is something that can be related to at a universal level, yet very specific.”

Under the Sun” is another film gracing the September schedule at the Detroit Film Theater. In 2015, Russian filmmaker Vitaly Maskey created this “non-fiction” film about an “ordinary family in Pyongyang, North Korea.”



Documenting one girl and her family for a year as she prepares to join the Korean Children’s Union on the “Day of the Shinning Star’, the girl becomes part of the system and the system becomes co-author of the film. The Korean authorities staged most of the film. However, the filmmaker kept the camera rolling at all times. Because of that, during seemingly spontaneous moments of enthusiasm and patriotism, officials are shown directing the people.

Wilhelm says the visuals illustrate the “physiological toll and emotional toll on them.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the entire conversation. 


Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET


Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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