Old Sears store, warehouse newest venue for Capital City Film Festival

Art, poetry to play roles in annual movie celebration


THURSDAY, March 9 — The old Sears building in Frandor will play a big role in this year’s Capital City Film Festival, co-director Dominic Cochran announced today.

This year’s festival will “hone in on quality over quantity,” with a new venue, a global art exhibition, special events and more, co-director Dominic Cochran said today.

The 10-day event kicks off April 5.

Each year, the festival chooses vacant venues to show its films, highlighting “some of the underutilized areas of our city,” Cochran said. As in years past, it will host screenings at the Lansing Public Media Center and The Fledge, but this year, it will also utilize the Sears warehouse for screenings, music, art and its Red Carpet Premiere Party. Sears closed in 2020.

“We have tens of thousands of square feet that we will be transforming over the coming weeks into a film venue, concert venue, party venue,” Cochran said at a press conference.

The Sears store is also the flagship location for a global art exhibit titled “Creativity in the Time of COVID-19: Art for Equity and Social Justice,” which features works by artists hailing from all seven continents. It “represents a variety of voices, perspectives and experiences of people during the pandemic,” Nancy DeJoy, the festival’s poet-in-residence and exhibit curator, said. It will be free and open to the public throughout April, with satellite exhibits at Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, REACH Studio Art Center and the Refugee Development Center. The art will also be displayed in a digital gallery online.

“Like many of my projects, this one emerged through my work with students,” DeJoy said. “We all started to realize how important creativity was becoming as we faced the realities of COVID-19. We wanted to find a way to invite the voices of people who were both disproportionately affected by the pandemic and using creativity in their everyday lives to tell their stories.”

DeJoy also announced that a group of poets will present works at the closing ceremony inspired by films they have viewed, with accompaniment from a backing jazz band.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to make poetry part of the Capital City Film Festival’s amazing event and to illustrate the ways that the arts speak to one another to open even more doors for inclusion,” she said.

Closing night will also feature the Michigan premiere of “Hayseed,” which was made in the Eaton Rapids area and follows a private investigator who’s called in to investigate the death of a local priest in a small Midwestern town. Director Travis Burgess, along with the cast and crew, will be at the showing for a follow-up discussion.

Additionally, there will be a screening of “Soft” on closing night, a coming-of-age drama about three adolescent queer friends who find themselves caught up in the nightlife scene of underbelly Toronto during summer break — until the investigation of a missing peer brings them back to reality.

The opening night feature is “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out,” about an aspiring teen journalist who befriends a space-obsessed neighbor that’s on a quest to find his parents, who he believes were abducted by aliens.

To highlight inclusion and diverse programming, the festival will also screen a selection of works from the Michigan State University Womxn of Color Initiatives and material that spotlights people with disabilities both behind and in front of the camera.

Finally, the annual Fortnight Film Contest, which kicks off today, offers Michigan filmmakers a chance to produce a short film that could win them cash prizes totaling up to $5,000. They have some required elements for their entries, but festival manager Emma Selby said these are just to ensure the films are completed within the two weeks of the contest, not to dictate “genre or anything else like that.”

“We want the teams to have creative freedom and make the film that they want to make,” she said. “The entries will screen as part of the festival lineup at 6 p.m. April 13 at the former Sears building, and that’s where we’ll announce the cash prizes and awards.”

For those interested in being more involved with the festival, there’s a Volunteer Kickoff at 6  tomorrow night, followed by a free Brew & View screening of “School of Rock.”

The full event schedule will be posted next week on its website, ccff.co, and all-access passes are on sale now for $50.


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