Independent films return with the impact of the pandemic

A key question has been answered: no, the pandemic has not slowed down independent cinema.

Now another waits: has this affected independent cinema?

We’ll see: The first Capital City Film Festival in three years (not including a drive-in version) kicks off Thursday (April 7) and runs for 10 days.

In its heyday, the CCFF stretched all over Lansing, showing movies at a hot tub shop, the Robin Theater, the old Knapp’s, the Lansing Center and more. This year it will be reduced a bit.

“They didn’t want to try too hard at once,” said William Corbett, the lead programmer. “It’s kind of a ramp-up year.”

The musical evenings will take place at The Avenue. Most screenings will take place at two sites that can accommodate large crowds, even with seats that are a bit spread out for social distancing. The Lansing Public Media Center – this is the former headquarters of the National Guard – will accommodate about 175 people; the Fledge could hold 100.

The sites have been trimmed, but the filmmakers seem to be just as busy as ever. From a tally (with some pending spots), there are 18 features (11 scripted, seven documentaries), plus 85 shorts.

Anna Baumgarten, who grew up by a lake in southeast Michigan, wrote and directed

This includes a wave of Michigan films, including the first game. “Disfluency,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, is “one of the highest-rated movies (by the judging committee) we’ve had,” said CCFF co-founder Jason Gabriel.

It also includes movies from afar. Feature films (often with subtitles) come from Italy and Iran, Canada and Colombia, Germany, Taiwan, Finland and South Africa. There are shorts from several of these countries, as well as Denmark, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Israel and the Netherlands.

Many were made during difficult times. Corbett mentions several films dealing with loneliness or isolation. Gabriel adds: “The need to express oneself is more imperative than ever.”

They cite documentaries ranging from Alaska (“Never Had a Bad Day,” 7:45 p.m. Friday, tours of a resort powered entirely by geothermal energy) to Kentucky (“From the Hood to the Holler,” 12:30 p.m. April 16, sees a long-term bid for a U.S. Senate seat) and beyond. “Superfan” (April 15 at 6 p.m.) meets Nav Bhatia, who left India during anti-Sikh riots and became the No. 1 fan of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.

And they’re pointing the finger at Michigan movies. These range from the feature-length “Dinner Parting” (8 p.m. Saturday), with dinner taking sudden twists, to “Something in the Clouds” (10:30 p.m. April 15), a 13-minute Grand Rapids story. of a young biker facing an emergency.

The documentary “Iron Family” has perhaps the friendliest person at all the festivals. Jazmine Faries, who has Down syndrome, organizes her family every year to stage a new play in Iron River (an Upper Peninsula town of 3,000), depicting her alternative life as a fashion designer married to Matthew McConaughey.

Then there is “Disfluency”, the opening of the festival. It is a semi-Hollywood film, partly shot in California and with its actors. The young main roles go to real sisters Libe and Ariel Barer, as well as Chelsea Alden; all grew up in Southern California and were busy in television series. Molly Hagan, who plays a teacher, has been a television regular for three decades, from “Herman’s Head” to “Walker.”

Still, it’s very much a Michigan movie. Anna Baumgarten, who grew up by a lake in southeast Michigan, wrote and directed the story of a college student who retreats to his home after a difficult final year of college. She used Michigan sets and Michigan actors; an overworked cop is played by Wayne David Parker, who will always be remembered as Jimmer in “Escanaba in Da Moonlight.”

Getting subtly superb performances from its young cast — particularly Libe Barer in the lead — Baumgarten captured the personal pain, set against the quiet beauty of Lake Michigan life.


Here are the details for the Capital City Film Festival, which begins on Thursday (April 7). It is subject to change, with a few places still on hold, so check


?Tickets are at the door; unless otherwise specified, they are $5 per film or short film package.

?An all-access pass, on the website, costs $50 plus a $4.67 processing fee. There’s also a two-pack ($100, no handling fee) and a pass ($100, free popcorn, of which $40 is a donation).

? Most films are at the Lansing Public Media Center, 2500 S. Washington Ave; or The Fledge, 2021 E. Michigan Ave.


?Disfluency,” a popular Michigan film, is at 7 p.m. Thursday (April 7) at the LPMC.

? Also that evening, music at 9 p.m. at The Avenue and short films at 9:30 p.m. at LPMC.

? The first party will be the following day, Friday at 5:30 p.m., at the Ellison Brewery, 1314 S Washington Ave. Tickets are $15 ($5 is a donation to two refugee groups) online or, space permitting, at the door.


?A closing film will take place at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. on April 16 at the Celebration Cinema, with details pending.


bEach is 9 p.m. at The Avenue, 2021 Michigan Ave., with a $5 cover charge.

? Thursday (April 7): Chirp, plus NWRH; Friday, AOTA Creative Takeover; Saturday, Bonehawk, plus BOA and Mr. Denton on Doomsday.

? April 14: Lipstick Jodie, more Dirt Room; April 15, Mark Lavengood Band, plus Jen Sygit; April 16, No Skull, plus The Live Music.


?Saturday (April 9): At 5:30 p.m. at the LPMC, Heartland Klezmorim will support “The Immigrant,” the 30-minute silent classic by Charlie Chaplin. Next, there will be film and music involving transgender musicians Lorelei from Andriole Jones and Jean Knific.

?Monday to Wednesday (April 4-6): “Brew & View,” 8 p.m., The Avenue. (No cover charge, but don’t forget to purchase food and drinks.) Movie details pending.


?Scripted Features: “Good Madam,” 7:45 p.m. Friday, Fledge; “Down with the King,” 9:30 p.m. Friday, LPMC; “The Dinner Parting,” 8 p.m. Saturday, LPMC; “Neptune Frost” (musical, fantasy), 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Fledge; “Roman Candle,” 8 p.m. Sunday, LPMC; “After the Incident,” 5:30 p.m. April 14, Fledge; “Hideout,” 7:30 p.m. April 14, Fledge; “Return of the Living Dead” (1985 film, complete with elements of the local “Quality Scary” crew, 8 p.m., April 15, LPMC; “Wulver’s Stane”, 10:30 p.m., April 15, Fledge; “Sweet Disaster ,” 12:30 p.m. April 16, Fledge; “San Pablo,” 2:30 p.m. April 16, Fledge; “Anbessa,” 5 p.m. April 16, Fledge.

? Documentary Features: “Never Had a Bad Day,” 7:45 p.m. Friday, LPMC; “Carnival Pilgrims,” 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Fledge; “Grey Roads,” 4 p.m. Sunday, LPMC; “The Shadow Between Us,” 6 p.m. Sunday, LPMC; “Superfan: The Story of Nav Bhatia,” 6:00 p.m. April 15, LPMC; “From Hood to Scream,” 12:30 p.m. April 16, LPMC; “Iron Family,” 2:30 p.m., April 16, LPMC.

? Short packages: “Reality-benders” (10 films), 9:30 p.m. Thursday (April 7), LPMC; global (6), 9:30 p.m. Friday, Fledge; lively (21), 1 p.m., Saturday, Fledge; a second global package (7), 8 p.m. Saturday, Fledge; music videos (13), 10 p.m., April 14, Fledge; comedy (12), 5:30 p.m., April 15, Fledge; documentary (8), 8 p.m. April 15, Fledge; drama (8), 10:30 p.m. on April 15, LPMC; also, “reality-benders” repeats, 4:00 p.m. April 16, LPMC. And the winners of the Quinzaine du Film Competition will be announced at 1 p.m. on Sunday (April 10) at the LPMC.