The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
When it opened in the old Burton International School building in Fall 2009, the Burton Theatre was an exciting and welcome addition to Detroit’s film culture. Founded by four twenty-something cinephiles, the scrappy independent theater promised to show films that weren’t being shown anywhere else in the area, and since the riveting first screening (of the dreamy 1973 Spanish film Spirit of the Beehive), it has consistently delivered on that promise.
In the year and a half since, the Burton has shown an incredible variety of movies appealing to a diverse audience: cult films, Hollywood and international classics, terrifying new horror movies, and documentaries about Detroit, for instance. Mixing trash with highbrow fare and whatever’s in between (but emphasizing films you won’t see at the multiplex), the guys at the Burton serve up a witchy brew that rarely disappoints.
They also host the Detroit Independent Film Festival, show a free film a month, sell locally made goods, and throw sensational outdoor BBQ screenings in the summer. I found myself thinking about those great movie parties this week and asked Nathan Faustyn, the Burton’s programming director, about what we can expect to see from the theater this season and next.
Matthew Piper: First, can you talk about some of your favorite screenings and events from the first year and a half?
Nathan Faustyn: So far my favorite films shown have been last year's little seen October Country, which is a documentary about a small-town family with a history of poverty and abuse, and Dogtooth, which was nominated for last year's best foreign language Oscar and is the story of a family so insular that they believe the world beyond their backyard fence is evil and a reason to be fearful. [Note: clicking the second link will take you to a trailer that gets pretty violent.]
As far as special events are concerned, I've loved the opportunities we have had with local artists, like Cristin Richard, House of Raw (which curates our monthly art installations), and a collection of fantastic noise musicians who created a live score for Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.
MP: What do you have in store for the spring and summer? Can we expect more outdoor screenings/parties? (Please say yes.)
NF: This summer we are looking forward to our now biweekly BBQs, as well as a live score to the 1974 sci-fi film Zardoz with Sean Connery [one more note: if you click any link today, make it that one], and the launch of our monthly LGBT Film Night, starting May 18 with Girls Will Be Girls to coincide with the relocation of the Motor City Pride Festival to Detroit.
For more information about what’s showing at the Burton in April and May, click here. The first Cinema BBQ takes place on Saturday, May 29, and will feature Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Detroit 9000.
The Burton Theatre is located at 3420 Cass Ave; Detroit; (313) 473-9238; http://burtontheatre.com. Tickets to most movies are $7 on the weekend ($6 if you come by bike) and $5 on Wednesdays.