After a virtual 2020, film festival to return to downtown Farmington in 2021

The Greater Farmington Film Festival is returning to downtown Farmington this year, this after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 festival to move exclusively online.

Presented by the KickstART Farmington nonprofit arts organization, this year’s Greater Farmington Film Festival will adopt a hybrid model, including virtual movie screenings, outdoor screenings at the Village Commons parking lot, and indoor screenings at the Farmington Civic Theater.

That’s welcome news for Scott Freeman, general manager of the Farmington Civic Theater. Though open since December 2020, Freeman says that he still runs into people that don’t know that movie theaters have since reopened across Michigan.

The film festival opens the same weekend as the Art on the Grand festival, a one-two punch that Freeman hopes will provide the Civic with some welcome publicity.

“We look at these festivals as an opportunity to get more exposure for the theater, and especially when we were forced to be closed for so long last year,” he says. “It’s a nice little memory jog, an opportunity to say hi to people on the street.”

Here’s the line-up for this year’s Greater Farmington Film Festival.

Just Mercy, Friday, June 4, at 6:45 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Theater: The true story of Alabama lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his fight to free the wrongly convicted.

Short Term 12, Friday, June 4, at 9:45 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Theater: Follows the story of Grace as she works at a foster care facility, who works with both the resident teens and her own past.

Trolls World Tour, Saturday, June 5, at the Village Commons parking lot: This outdoor showing of the animated family film in downtown Farmington is free. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs and seating.

This year’s virtual screenings are available to watch Friday, June 4, through Friday, June 11. Selections include Cured, a documentary that explores the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental illnesses in 1973; End of The Line: The Women of Standing Rock, a documentary featuring a small group of indigenous women in their attempts to stop the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline construction; Missing in Brooks County, a documentary that puts a spotlight on the South Texas Human Rights Center and their work with area migrants; Not Going Quietly, a documentary about a young father’s fight with ALS, what’s commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease; and The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, a documentary about corporations and their effects on society.

Virtual discussions about the films are also planned.

As for the Farmington Civic Theater itself, the theater has taken the recommended safety precautions since reopening in December 2020. Masks are required for those not fully vaccinated and social distancing is in effect. Current capacity restrictions limit guests to 30 patrons in the upstairs theater and 65 downstairs.

Outside of the film festival, the Civic continues to show movies of a more mainstream variety. This week’s offerings include Rays and the Last Dragon, Courier, and Nobody, according to the theater’s website.

Live music has returned in front of the theater, another way in which Freeman hopes will connect passers-by to the Civic. Their famous popcorn doesn’t hurt, either.

“Right now, the theater’s focus is to let people know that we’re here and we’re open,” Freeman says. “We’re sticking with what we’re known for.”

Visit the Greater Farmington Film Festival online for more information about tickets, screenings, and more.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.