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Detroit Film Theatre celebrates special anniversary with
gala celebration and 10 revisited films at 1974 ticket prices.
on Oncle Antoine, a multiple
award-winning movie about a
boy coming of age, launched
the regular programming of the Detroit
Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of
Arts 40 years ago and will encore to mark
the milestone anniversary of the cinema
The Canadian film — to be screened
at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 — will be among
10 movies enjoying encores Jan. 10-12 at
the 1974 ticket price of $2. (See sidebar
below.) Presentations, Polaroid pictures,
chocolate and champagne will become
part of the celebration.
All are scheduled around An Affair to
Remember" a dinner party appropriately
taking its name from a classic movie and
being hosted by Friends of the Detroit
Film Theatre, an auxiliary group of the
Detroit Institute of Arts.
Elliot Wilhelm, film and video curator
for the DIA, founded the DFT program
and has attended distant festivals and
screenings to select firsthand more than
3,000 films shown over the four decades.
The films listed below are part of the
celebration of the 40th anniversary of
the Detroit Film Theatre:
At a time of financial woes for Detroit, the
DFT maintains self-sustaining solvency.
"We're glad to have been around so long
by pulling in large audiences from every-
where in the area; says Wilhelm, who began
the program with a $10,000 grant from the
National Endowment for the Arts.
"When the DFT began, accessibility to
films was so different. There had been a lot
of independent, single-screen movie theaters,
but they were starting to disappear.
"The multiplexes never took up the slack
that the smaller theaters left behind. There
were many foreign, independent and special
films that were not getting to theaters in the
Before videos, cable TV, electronic hold-
ings at libraries and the overall digital age,
the National Endowment for the Arts saw
the lack of screening opportunities as a far-
reaching problem and established the grants
to begin theaters at nonprofit organizations.
At the time I got the job, I made the deci-
sion that we could run a new film every week
along with the classics that couldnt be found
then:' says Wilhelm, author of VideoHound's
World Cinema: The Adventurer's Guide to
Film Watching (Visible Ink Press), which
reviews 800 foreign films.
"People could judge the newer films
and have a sense of film history. That
formula seemed to strike a happy nerve
with Detroiters. They began coming on a
"It is remarkable that with all the chang-
es in accessibility, we are still going strong.
People are finding that seeing films in a
theatrical setting — specifically in the DIA
auditorium, a beautiful and historic space
— is still desirable"
Wilhelm reminds theatergoers that the
auditorium opened with the museum in
1927. Planners wanted space to accommo-
date all kinds of artistic presentations, and
the facility seats 1,200.
"It was set up with full stage rigging for
live theater, concerts, poetry readings, lec-
tures and orientation programs for muse-
um visitors:' Wilhelm explains. "From
day one, in the year sound first came into
motion pictures, there was a projection
booth with wiring for sound.
"Films as an art form were run from the
moment the theater came into existence
with guest curators through the 1960s,
when presentations became spotty. My
vision and the need for a specialized the-
ater were a perfect confluence of events"
My Left Foot (England 1989)
1 p.m. Saturday, Jan.11
A gifted writer perseveres despite
The Spanish Dracula (USA 1931)
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan.11
A stranger version of the original
Burden of Dreams (USA 1982)
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11
Monumental struggles arise in the
making of a documentary.
Russian Ark (Russia 2002)
1 p.m. Sunday, Jan.12
Centuries of history come across through
filming at the Hermitage Museum.
In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong 2000)
7 p.m. Saturday, Jan.11
Love and longing are explored.
Tristana (France 1970)
4 p.m. Sunday, Jan.12
An orphaned young woman is placed in
Talk to Her (Spain 2002)
9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan.10
A bond develops between men caring
for coma patients.
Elliot Wilhelm, DIA film and video cura-
tor, started working at the museum in
October 1973 at age 23 and launched
the DFT in January 1974.
Wilhelm's interest in evaluating films
intensified as he went to movies while
enrolled at Cass Technical High School and
studied speech and communications at
Wayne State University. He became familiar
with the DIA auditorium while attending
Forty Years on page 37
the guardianship of an aristocrat.
El Norte (Guatemala/US 1983)
7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12
A sister and brother find the
unexpected in their journey to
Wake in Fright (Australia 1971)
9:45 p.m. Sunday, Jan.12
A young teacher is plunged into five
days of gambling, beer and kangaroo
December 19 • 2013