This year’s festival will be held March 8 to 10 at two theaters — the Birmingham 8 and Palladium 12.
Over the three days of the festival, 60 short and full-length movies, created by students and professionals alike, will be shown.
These films include animated films, documentaries and features.
Some films are even making their Metro Detroit debut.
David Marek, a Traverse City native freelance filmmaker, created “Somewhere West.” The film follows the road travels of Ian, a young man with brain cancer, while he searches for a beautiful place to spend his final days. He attempts to spend his last days in solitude. The relationships with people he meets along the way surprise him.
The film follows the journey
Marek took in 1995 when traveling from Traverse City to Boulder, Colo. where he was moving to attend school.
“Thankfully, the sort of cancer element in the film is fictional,” Marek said. “But that was sort of the inspiration. I’m a road trip junkie and just love driving, so road films are near and dear to my heart.”
The film was shot in 30 days with nine people. The crew traveled 4,982 miles in an RV on a budget of $25,000. Comparable films have larger crews and budgets, he said.
“I think the thing I learned was the more risks I took as an artist to interact with my environment and those around me, the more I was rewarded,” Marek said. “The more I collaborated with the moment, and in the moment, I think I ended up with stronger scenes and a stronger film than the one I originally con-
Marek is currently working on a documentary following the life of AIDS activist Mary Fisher.
“Dirty Energy” will also be making its Michigan premiere. The documentary follows the story of the people whose lives were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and the resulting oil spill.
Prior to his career as a storyteller, Bryan D. Hopkins, the director of the film, worked in the finance industry, but left due to the economy.
During his career change, Hopkins saw news coverage of the explosion and the people who were affected.
Following this experience, Hopkins raised $1,500 from friends and family and went down to Louisiana. He lived on the victims’ couches and developed strong relationships with people other than filmmakers and reporters.
“For me, having lived there, I was able to get comfortable, get to know people off-line, get drunk with them a couple times and then I was able to get the real stuff,” he said.
In addition to showing films, the festival presents the Michigan Film Awards.
“Somewhere West” is nominated for 10 awards in eight categories. “Dirty Energy” is nominated in the best documentary feature category. The ceremony will take place on the final day of the festival.
Tickets can be purchased at www.uptownfilmfestival.com