Encore Michigan

Cinetopia Film Festival’s ‘Detroit Voices’ May 16

News April 18, 2019 David Kiley

ANN ARBOR, Mich.–Cinetopia Film Festival’s 2019 Detroit Voices competition is proud to announce the 12 finalists that will premiere on Thursday, May 16 at the Senate Theater at 6:00pm. This year’s finalists feature directors whose work represents a wide range of Michigan-based stories and perspectives including A Park for DetroitWalking for DedSidelotsLittle JulioWide Roads of PortlandMichigan and Femme Queen Chronicles.

Detroit Voices provides an opportunity for filmmakers to share and showcase their talents with a larger audience. This year, filmmakers will vie for the grand jury prize in either Documentary or Narrative categories for a chance to win $2,000. Besides the grand juried contests, there is also an Honorable Mention and Audience Favorite that net $500 and $1500 respectively. Cash prizing is courtesy of Michigan Medicine, The Applebaum Family Compass Fund, and the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

“We are proud to partner with Cinetopia to support Detroit Voices for the second year in a row. Providing the opportunity for filmmakers to share their stories aligns with our mission of nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit.” (Pamela Applebaum, The Applebaum Family Compass Fund, Applebaum Family Philanthropy)

The Detroit Voices competition ran for eight weeks and garnered over 65 submissions. Films range in length from six minutes to 27 minutes and address various topics such as neurofibromatosis, the sanctuary movement, the Belle Isle Zoo, living in small-town Michigan, and four black trans women navigating life in Detroit. After the awards ceremony, a closing night party will follow.

To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit www.cinetopiafestival.org

The complete list of selected films follows:

Detroit Voices Finalists Documentary  

Little Julio

Directed by Elysia Vandenbussche

The coach of a boxing gym in Detroit reflects on his life. (6 minutes)

The Pearson Twins

Directed by Jon Braue

Identical twins Adam and Neil navigate through life with a rare genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis. Despite their identical DNA, the twins are affected in vastly different ways. The one thing that remains the same is their perspective of life and how to live it best. (11 minutes)


Directed by Atieno Nyar Kasagam

A love story about Black land reclamation told in ritual between Detroit, Alabama and Kenya. By

digging up familial and land roots across the diaspora, Sidelots illuminates all that is sacred in the land and encourages a radical reconsideration of how we view the earth immediately below our feet. (16 minutes)

Walking For Ded

Directed by Scott Boehm

A film about the sanctuary movement during the Trump era and the inspirational struggle to stop the deportation of Ded Rranxburgaj, who took sanctuary in Detroit’s historic United Methodist Church in January 2018. (8 minutes)

A Park for Detroit

Directed by Nicole Macdonald

Using news footage, surveillance tapes and motion sensor cameras, this film takes a unique look at the flora and fauna that are reclaiming the Belle Isle Zoo. (27 minutes)

Detroit Voices Finalists Narrative

Good Grief

Directed by Toni Cunningham

Doug has recently been kicked out of the home he shares with his ex-girlfriend. While crashing at his place of employment for the night, he goes through the 5 stages of grief with the help of an unexpected “friend”. (11 minutes)

Knock Knock

Directed by Kennikki Jones-Jones

Sinia does the best she can to help the kids next door, however when they are in danger, she does nothing. Stricken by guilt, she decides to check on the kids, but she discovers is a chilling reality that pushes her over the edge. (14 minutes)

Meteor crashes into earth after two guys running

Directed by Benjamin Armes

One day, two guys were running… the rest is history.

Riding with Aunt D. Dot

Directed by Bree Gant

A young artist takes a bus ride that makes her question reality as several eclectic characters take her to task on where she’s going with her life. (7 minutes)

Wide Roads of Portland, Michigan

Directed by Andrew Lewis

In a Michigan small town with few opportunities, two young men scrape by on a diet of video games, Mountain Dew, and dead end jobs – until one of them decides to take a chance on a better life. (9 minutes)


Directed by Andy Hones and Shelby Alayne Antel

A property dispute between two neighbors sheds light on shared hardships. (7 minutes)

Femme Queen Chronicles

Directed by Ahya Simone

Four black trans women navigate through love, life, trade, and shade in the city of Detroit; brought to life by black trans women themselves. (11 minutes)

For more information on the 2019 Cinetopia Film Festival screenings, events, and special guests please visit https://www.cinetopiafestival.org/ 

Festival passes and tickets are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit https://www.cinetopiafestival.org/tickets-passes/

See attached list of films and visit cinetopiafestival.org for full film descriptions, trailers and dates/times/locations of all screenings and events.


The Cinetopia Film Festival is an annual, curated festival in metro Detroit, featuring more than 50 of the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals (Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, and more). It takes place over the span of 10 days every spring at venues throughout the region. The festival is not submission-based; instead, the extensive festival program is selected by a team led by Indiewire Influencer Russ Collins from the nationally-renowned Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Created in 2011 for the people of Southeast Michigan, Cinetopia honors the rich heritage of cinematic culture and Michigan’s proud legacy of outstanding cinema artists through special pre- and post-film events, including presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers, and actors. The 2019 Cinetopia Film Festival comes with major support from Michigan Medicine and the Knight Foundation. For more information, visit cinetopiafestival.org.