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Those of us who live in Michigan grow up with an ingrained awareness of the Great Lakes. We drink their water, sail and swim in them, build homes and cottages on their shorelines, and live with the weather they help produce.

The Great Lakes are an economic power-player. They contribute one trillion dollars to America's gross national product. And let's not overlook that $4 billion Great Lakes fishing industry.

A new documentary film brings us a unique look at the Great Lakes. PROJECT: ICE explores the crucial role that ice has played and continues to play in shaping and maintaining Michigan's most important resource.

The executive producer and director of PROJECT: ICE, Bill Kleinert, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

*Support for Arts and culture coverage on Stateside comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kate Wells

I like movies. You like movies.

So let’s get together, watch some new documentaries about Detroit, and then talk with the people who actually have the power to fix some of the stuff that’s wrong in this city.

That’s the idea behind the first-ever Detroit Free Press Film Fest, which kicked off last week with a line stretched for blocks around the Fillmore Theater.

Doug Kline / Flickr

Attention “Breaking Bad” fans (read: almost everyone): Bryan Cranston’s latest role has a Michigan twist. 

Cranston, the 57-year-old star of “Breaking Bad” and of course, “Malcolm in the Middle,” signed on for the lead role in the new movie, “Holland, Michigan.”

Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris is expected to direct the film, a thriller centered on a family from – you guessed it – Holland.

Renewable resources, such as wind and solar, are likely to supply 10% of Michigan electricity by 2015, as state law mandates. On today’s program, we looked at a recent report that says we could be doing more, boosting the number to 30% by 2035.

Then, the losing streak of Medora, Indiana's high school basketball team compelled two Michigan filmmakers to move there, and to tell the story of this small industrial town and the people who live there.

And, federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to slash its public pension and healthcare benefits. What will this mean for Detroit retirees?

First on the show, it was one year ago this day that the State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder passed a set of bills into law that made some very contentious history in our State.

On December 11th, 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

One year later, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

We were joined for this discussion by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard, and, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Block.

MedoraFilm

It began with a New York Times feature story about a struggling boys' high school basketball team in a tiny town in southern Indiana.

The story of the 0-22 Medora Hornets so gripped a pair of Ann Arbor filmmakers that they picked up and moved to struggling, hardscrabble Medora, Indiana for a full year to follow the team as it fought for just one win.

In doing so, Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn discovered layers and layers of compelling stories, which they have packed into a powerful documentary.

"Medora," which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, is now being screened all around Michigan.

There will be a live screening tomorrow night in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater. Additional screenings will be held in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo (see listings here).

Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn joined us today (listen to the interview above).

Watch a trailer for the film below, and here's a link to their website.

MEDORA OFFICIAL TRAILER from beachside on Vimeo.

On the show today, a surprising new study shows binge drinking is up among high school students, and that's not all. It's a rising problem across the Midwest.

 Then, a very personal story from a filmmaker who overcame being a bully, and how her mission to educate kids and parents resulted in a powerful film. And, we took a look at Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger's visit to Detroit and what he learned while there. 

First on the show, As Detroit's troubles and "dirty laundry" have been aired out on a world-wide stage, there has been plenty of finger-pointing and judging of the city's leaders, employees, retirees and citizens.

But a new analysis from Michigan State University suggests we might want to hold up on judging Detroit and take a look at our own cities and towns.

That MSU report finds cities all around Michigan face the very same mountain of "legacy" debt that toppled Detroit.

Study co-author Eric Scorsone joined us today.

NCWD/youth

As social media has embedded itself into our lives, so too has the national conversation about bullying.

Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media have given bullies boundless opportunities to torture their victims. What used to be something that happened in school halls and classrooms now finds its way into every corner of the lives of our young people.

One of the voices that has joined this conversation about bullying is that of a Michigan filmmaker. Her newest film, shot in Oakland County, is called "The Bully Chronicles."

It brings us the story of teen bullying through the eyes of the bully, and she recently turned to the Huffington Post, where she wrote to the teens accused of bullying a 12-year-old Florida girl to the point where she committed suicide by jumping off a tower.

Her post was headlined "From One Bully To Another: An Open Letter to Rebecca Sedwick's Bullies."

Amy Weber joined us in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

On today's show, we took a look at key election results from around the state, from marijuana to gay rights. How did you vote?  And what's the take away from Election 2013?

Then, we spoke with Michigan singer-songwriter Stewart Franke as he takes us inside his battle with leukemia.

And, we talked Michigan beer. A new film looks at the craft beer scene in our state.

First on the show, it has been quite a journey for a candidate who got booted off the primary ballot, was going to fold his tent and walk away, then was urged to mount a write-in campaign, swept the primary and today, is the new Mayor-Elect of Detroit.

Mike Duggan has become Detroit's first white mayor in 40 years, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has covered the Duggan campaign and was at the victory party last night. She joined us today.

There's an intriguing movie premiere happening Thursday night at the Fillmore Theatre on Woodward in downtown Detroit.

"The Michigan Beer Film" will be screened along with samples of some of the Michigan brews featured in the film.

We're always happy to talk about Michigan beer here on Stateside, so we welcomed the producer and director of "The Michigan Beer Film", Kevin Romeo. He joined us today from Kalamazoo. 

Listen to the full interview about.

JD Hancock Photos

The "Caped Crusader" and the "Man of Steel" are getting a handout from Michigan.

Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press reports Warner Brothers will get millions in tax incentives to shoot the movie in the state.

The upcoming Superman-Batman movie has been approved for the state’s film incentives, the Michigan Film Office announced today.

Blogger

From growing up in Zeeland on Michigan's West Side to cooking for scientists at the South Pole, Keith Reimink has led a life that is, to say the least, fascinating.

Keith's job as a cook led him to spend a year at an Antarctic research center. He turned that experience into a documentary called "No Horizon Anymore."

Keith Reimink joined us today to talk about the experience.

Listen to the full interview above.

Boston Public Library / Flickr

Sadly, posting a photo or video from your smartphone onto Facebook or Twitter seems to have supplanted the good old postcard.

But there is a rich history to the American Picture Postcard and it centers on Detroit.

The "City That Put the World on Wheels" is also the city that turned out millions and millions of American postcards.

John Collier spent three decades as a photojournalist for the Detroit Free Press.

He is also a filmmaker who has turned his love of postcards into a documentary that’s called “My Postcard Collection: The Detroit Publishing Story: A History of the American Picture Postcard.”

John Collier joined us today in the studio.

For more information, go to http://www.mypostcardcollection.net/

Listen to the full interview above.

WOODTV blog

The show will go on tonight in South Haven.

It looked for a while this morning that the start of the 15th annual Waterfront Film Festival might be delayed. Last night’s wind storm knocked out power to more than 95% of South Haven.

Patrick Revere is with the film festival. He says things looked “dicey” this morning, but they have since made arrangements to have the backup power they need to kick off the festival tonight.

“We’ll be able to do everything that we were planning on doing for our opening night party tonight at South Beach,” says Revere.

transforminglossdocumentary.com

Suffering loss and going through grief is a part of the human experience. There's not one of us who will skate through life without having to cope with losing someone close to us.

But sometimes that loss is sudden and horrifying. How can someone possibly climb back out of that pit of grief?

That's the question addressed in a new documentary called "Transforming Loss." In it, we meet six Michigan families who have managed to triumph, transform, and grow, despite indescribable heartbreak. And they have lessons for each of us.

The filmmaker and licensed psychotherapist Judith Burdick joined us in the studio.

Also in the studio was Elizabeth Guz, one of the people who shared her story of loss and transformation, a story that began when her teenage son committed suicide. Today she volunteers for the Heinz Prechter Bipolar Research Project at the University of Michigan Depression Center.

Listen to the full interview above.

Judy van der Velden / Flickr

When you think of filmmaking, chances are pretty good that you think of a producer, a director and a cast chosen by that director.

But there are a couple of filmmakers in Detroit who are blowing up that traditional model of making films, and in its place have come up with something completely different.

How about 40 directors for one film? And they're spread across 23 countries on five continents?

Marty Shea is one of the Detroit-based filmmakers doing this "collaborative" movie under the name of "CollabFeature."

He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside: Documenting a region in flux at the Arab Film Festival

Jan 23, 2013
http://www.half-revolution.com/pictures.html

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The 2013 Arab Film Festival opens Thursday in Dearborn.

Eight films will be screened at the Arab American National Museum.

Stateside: Two firefighters' impressions of "BURN"

Dec 19, 2012
detroitfirefilm.org

It’s possible to leave “BURN” feeling as if you’ve just combated the inferno of multiple house fires.

The documentary- which utilizes actual footage of Detroit firefighters- is strikingly realistic, unlike previous films of its kind.

Firefighter Chris Palm and Sergeant Tony Angelucey shared their accounts of entering burning buildings.

Though an experienced firefighter, Angelucey was pleased with the shift of perspective the film afforded him.

“It was shocking to see what we do. We’re always doing it, so we don’t usually get to sit back and watch it unravel,” he said.

Screen shot from Sundance Film video.

The film, Middle of Nowhere tells the story of a young woman caught between loyalty to her incarcerated husband, and possibilities she finds outside the walls of the prison. Jennifer White interviews actor Omari Hardwick who portrays Derek, the incarcerated husband. Hardwick has also appeared in the films Sparkle and For Colored Girls, to name a few. Ava DuVernay won the Best Director Award for the film at the 2012 Sundance film festival, the first time that award has been won by an African American woman. The film is showing in Southfield.

The Michigan Theater
user andypiper / Flickr

Ann Arbor will be hosting its first-ever Cinetopia International Film Festival this week.

Russ Collins, executive director of the Michigan Theater, says festival organizers expect about 5,000 attendees this weekend.

Over the four-day festival, 35 mainstream films will be screened primarily in the Michigan and State Theaters.

Collins notes that this festival is different from the longstanding Ann Arbor Film Festival because that event's focus is on experimental films.

"The Cinetopia International Film Festival is a festival that celebrates the feature length, story-based films that you're going to see at festivals like Toronto and Sundance," Collins says.

The festival opens Thursday night with a party and screening of Tod Louiso's "Hello I Must Be Going" and continues with Sundance-acclaimed films like "I Am Not a Hipster."

"It seems like our ambient interest in cinema and the ability of our town to host festivals and special events would make Ann Arbor an exceptionally good place to do a film festival of a large scale," says Collins,

There are high hopes for this pilot event. Festival organizers plan to expand the event into an 11-day festival for Ann Arbor and Detroit.

- Julia Alix Smith-Eppsteiner, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Photo courtesy of Abby Rose Photo

Happy 50th, Ann Arbor Film Festival!

On today's Artpod, we hear from the festival's director, Donald Harrison. We also catch up with two longtime fans of the festival - one: an audience member, the other: a filmmaker - to hear some of their favorite film fest memories.

Festival-goer: "Every year I find at least two or three films that are just amazing."

John Johnson has been going to the Ann Arbor Film Festival since the late 1960s, and considers himself a big fan of the event.

He's such a big fan that when a film he likes doesn't win an award at the festival, he sends the filmmaker a "a few dollars myself and tell them what a great film it was."  He says he's probably done that about four times, three of which have resulted in a letter back from the filmmaker and a DVD copy of the film.

One of his favorite memories was when he saw Claude LeLouch's "Rendezvous" at the 1976 film festival. He says the film "totally blew my mind," left him with goose bumps.

Johnson says every year he finds "at least two or three films that are just amazing, from my point of view." He says it's worth sitting in the theatre for hours to get to the films "that are just amazing that you would have nowhere else to see."

Screenshots from Ann Arbor Film Festival website.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The range of films and videos are diverse. They can be bizarre, funny, or beautiful. It's "art for art's sake," says Donald Harrison, the festival's executive director.

"We're most interested in ideas, and techniques and concepts, and engaging audiences in something that might be outside of their normal viewing experience," he says.

Harrison says the festival will highlight some of the best independent films from years past as well as new films.

user mconnors / morgueFile

The experimental Ann Arbor Film Festival kicks off its 50th season Tuesday, March 27.

More than 5,000 films have been screened at the festival over the past five decades. The festival has gone through its ups and downs during that time, too, including cuts to state funding and a high-profile censorship controversy several years ago.

Donald Harrison, the festival’s executive director, says more than 230 films will be shown this time around, many by obscure filmmakers.

"We really encourage people just to have that open mind, that sense of discovery," says Harrison. "We guarantee that people will see things that really affect them in a rewarding way, and of course they’ll see things that maybe they don’t care as much about, but that’s probably someone else’s favorite film in the festival."

We caught up with two longtime fans of the festival - an audience member, and a filmmaker – to hear some of their favorite film fest memories.

"The Real Kwame Kilpatrick" a film by Ayanna Ferguson Kilpatrick (Kwame Kilpatrick's sister) is coming soon.

The documentary will recount the life of the former Detroit Mayor and promises “rare expressions” from his wife Carlita Kilpatrick.

The movie trailer released Monday on YouTube begins with the voice of Kilpatrick himself saying, “Today I want you to sit back, relax, open your mind, because I am the real Kwame Kilpatrick.”

Here's the movie trailer:

A book of memoirs titled "Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick" was released in August of last year.  

The Michigan Court of Appeals said former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick would not get to keep the money from sales of his new book.

The Associated Press reported:

A judge has ruled Kilpatrick's profits will be placed in escrow to help satisfy $860,000 in restitution he still owes Detroit as part of his plea to a 2008 criminal case.
 

Kwame Kilpatrick who was charged with perjury, spent 99 days in a Michigan prison, and was released Aug. 2. He lives now in the Dallas area.

user trevorpatt / Flickr

Detroit is a city that fascinates a lot of people.

Its story is not a simple one, though it has sometimes been a dramatic one. So maybe it’s not surprising that we seem to hear every week about a new documentary film being made about Detroit.

Changing Gears hasn’t had a chance to see all of these documentaries, but we’ve heard about an awful lot of them.

And we’ve noticed some patterns that we thought could be helpful in case you ever decide to make a documentary about the Motor City.

So, here is our DIY guide for how to make a Detroit documentary:

Many people view Michigan as ground zero when it comes to job loss and unemployment. Yet despite the tough economy, some people are quitting their jobs in an effort to pursue their creative passions, which are often unpaid. 

From fast food to felt toys

Judy van der Velden / Flickr

A remake of the seventies Motown-inspired movie Sparkle will be filmed in metro Detroit and employ 266 people. The state approved a three-million-dollar film incentive for the seven-million-dollar project. Sparkle tells the story of three  sisters’ journey to musical fame during the height of the Motown era in Detroit.

Michelle Begnoche is with the Michigan Film Office. She says the film will stimulate Michigan’s economy.

"This is a project that’s focused really a lot on hiring Michigan workers for its crew so we will see the economic benefit from that – hiring our workforce – and then obviously it’s something that we can use on the backend after it comes out to kind of help promote tourism in the Detroit area," Begnoche said.

Producers hope to release Sparkle in 2014.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Andrew McFarlane / creative commons

Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal to get rid of the current film tax credit and replace it with a more modest grant program has met with a lot of resistance from the film community.

But now some film folks say they’re willing to compromise.

Since 2008, Michigan has offered up to a 42% tax credit for movies made here. That amounted to the state paying out  $60 million last year.

user: Otzberg / creative commons

The 49th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival kicks off Tuesday, March 22 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

It's the longest running independent and experimental film festival in the country.  

So while you won’t see a George Clooney flick at the festival, you could catch a documentary about industrial music, or a two minute short about London street life filmed using an iPhone.

Andrew McFarlane / Creative Commons

A new study shows Michigan’s tax incentives for the TV and film industry generated close to 4,000 fulltime jobs last year with an average salary of $53,700.  

Larry Alexander is President & CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, one of several bureaus across the state that helped commission the study.

“Diversifying Michigan’s economy by investing $84.7 million- and generating over a half a billion dollars of economic activity and nearly 4,000 high paying jobs- sounds like a pretty good deal to us.”

Rick Hert heads the West Michigan Film Office. He says talk about limiting the film incentives in the past reached Hollywood and caused some producers decide not to come to Michigan.

 “This is much bigger. This is a new governor of the state of Michigan and his comments are doing more than reverberating, they’re putting a clamp on the future of this industry.”

Hert is thankful the governor didn’t totally remove the incentives, but worries they’ll be too limited to keep attracting producers.

Hert says he understands the state is broke and that legislators have some tough calls to make.

GOP lawmaker says film tax credits have merit

Feb 3, 2011
Lloydpictures.com

Republican state senator Rick Jones says Michigan’s film tax credit might need to be trimmed, but he doesn’t think it should be eliminated. 

Governor Rick Snyder has said he’s going to put Michigan’s generous film tax credit policy under the microscope.

Movie companies can get up to a 42 percent tax credit if they film here.

But State Sen. Rick Jones says movies made in Michigan can be good for the state, because a hit can bring residual money into a community:

A good example would be "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve." We still have people traveling to Mackinac Island to see where that movie was made. There are still souvenirs sold, and it increases tourism.

Jones says his position has nothing to do with the possibility that the next Batman movie may be shot in his hometown of Grand Ledge.

Another movie, “Red  Dawn,” was also filmed in  Grand Ledge  and is awaiting release.

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