Navigating Cinetopia

With more than 40 films to be screened in a number of Ann Arbor and Detroit venues – the U.S. premiere of a Finnish film among them – and notable filmmakers scheduled to make appearances, it's hard to believe the Cinetopia International Film Festival is only in its second year. 

"We set some goals to have aggressive growth because we really want to see what we can do," says Cinetopia Festival Director Amanda Bynum. "Working with Elliot Wilhelm at the Detroit Film Theater really opened a bunch of doors for us. That's what makes it really exciting."

But don't let the promise of celebrities and highbrow films scare you away. Bynum says Cinetopia is an event bound to delight  cinephiles and first-time festivalgoers alike. 

"One of the coolest things about Cinetopia is it's a really accessible festival," she says. "There will be talent here, but it's not a celebrity atmosphere, it's just an Ann Arbor atmosphere." 

What truly makes for a primo international film festival experience are the screenings that include the cast and filmmakers themselves, after which the audience is able to ask questions. Here, we'll look just a few of the Cinetopia films scheduled to fit that bill during this weekend's event. 

Body Fat Index of Love

Michigan Theater, June 7, 7:15 pm
Special Guest: Producer Ilkka Matila

Cinetopia will host the U.S. premiere of the Finnish film, Body Fat Index of Love. This romantic comedy features Stigu and Ella, who decide upon meeting to engage in an ongoing sexual relationship with no other ties. Things get complicated when their paths cross professionally and they are assigned to work together on an advertising campaign promoting sustainable relationships. Bynum says this screening is among her most anticipated events of the weekend, adding that the last ten minutes of the film are especially priceless. 

Recommended question for guests: How was Cinetopia chosen as the location for your US premiere?


Screening info: State Theater, June 6, 7:45 pm
Michigan Theater, June 8, 7:00 pm

Special Guests: Screenwriter and Ann Arbor native Brian King

Starring Abigail Breslin, Haunter is a ghost story in reverse, in which teenage ghost Lisa realizes she and her family have been haunting a girl her own age living in their former home. Lisa learns that the living teenager and her family are in danger of suffering the same fate. The 2013 film was screened at South by Southwest  in March, after which reviewers remarked on the fresh take on the classic ghost story.

Recommended question for guests: What inspired you to look at the haunted house narrative from a different angle?

This Is Martin Bonner

Michigan Theater, June 7, 9:30 pm
Angell Hall Aud A, June 8, 2:00 pm

Special Guests: Lead actors Paul Eenhoorn and Richmond Arquette

This film premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best of NEXT. The film follows its 50-something title character to Reno where he seeks to start his life over and meets Travis Holloway, a man recently released from prison. The two begin a friendship that reveals truths about starting over later in life. 

Recommended question for guests: Reno is an interesting choice of cities for a movie about middle-aged men starting over. What role does the city play in the movie, and in the men's friendship?

Lord Montagu

Michigan Theater, June 7, 4:30 pm
Angell Hall Aud A, June 9, 4:30 pm

Special Guests: Director Luke Korem and producer Russell Wayne Groves

This documentary follows the life of English Lord Edward Montagu, whose charmed life was disrupted with scandal in the 1950s when homosexuality was illegal, landing the famous aristocrat in prison. Upon his release, the story of Montagu's redemption is nothing less than triumphant. Lord Montagu was also featured at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

Recommended question for guests: After his life was so negatively impacted by the media decades ago, how receptive was Lord Montagu to having his life story told on film?

Big Sur

Michigan Theater, June 8, 1:45 pm, and June 9, 8:30 pm

Special Guests: Cinematographer M. David Mullen and producers Sean O’Grady and Orian Williams 

With such notable names as Anthony Edwards, Josh Lucas and Kate Bosworth, Big Sur examines Jack Kerouac’s struggle to cope with the success  On the Road  and alcoholism. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews of director and writer Michael Polish's adaptation of the Kerouac novel of the same name.

Recommended question for guests: What were some of the challenges involved in beginning the film with ten minutes of no dialogue?

To see the full schedule or purchase tickets, visit