Birmingham’s Uptown Film Festival honors area filmmakers reaping the benefits of the Michigan Film Incentive, which—since it was passed in 2008—has stepped to the forefront of the film industry with the creation of more than 11,000 jobs. Comedies, dramas, and documentaries from the Mitten and beyond squeeze into the projector’s cylindrical glow at the Birmingham 8 and Birmingham Palladium 12 theaters, where several films will be debuting their Michigan premieres. Festive galas and postshow parties allow cinephiles to drop spec scripts in the drinks of their favorite filmmakers, each of whom longs for an award from a discerning crew of local professionals and film critics.
Dipson Theatres celebrates a reputation as a regional movie institution with a network of 12 locations lighting 57 silver screens across Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. Though the company now spreads across the northeast United States, it began in the small city of Batavia, NY, in 1939—a time when movies were called “picture shows,” Roosevelt was in the White House, and everybody could only see in black and white. Today that tradition underlies the cinematic experience as patrons chomp popcorn and sip sodas, marveling at modern 3-D visual adventures, summer action movies, family-friendly features, or even indie art flicks and footage from world-renowned opera performances.
Described by the Wall Street Journal as "probably America's most visitor-friendly art museum," the Detroit Institute of Arts has been building one of the top six collections in the country since it was founded in 1885. Along the way, the institute acquired standout pieces such as Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to enter a public museum's collection in the United States. Former director William Valentiner commissioned Diego Rivera to paint the world-renowned Detroit Industry mural cycle in an indoor courtyard—a more lasting tribute to the beauty of labor. In total, more than 60,000 works of prehistoric, modern, contemporary, and multinational art have found a home within the museum's more than 100 galleries.
The institute’s broad range of art comprises not only American and European works but also significant pieces of African, Asian, and Native American origin. An auditorium and recital hall also make the institute a haven for film and live music on Friday and Sunday. Guests can even attend free-with-admission drop-in workshops to make their own unique works of art.
Since the 1950s, the Ford Drive In has invited audiences to enjoy double features from the comfort of their own automobiles. The alfresco theater’s five screens show back-to-back screenings of first-run movies throughout the whole year, with films paired based on their rating and genre. Viewers can stay warm with the heat flowing from the outdoor car heaters, which keep them comfortable during the winter and prevent popcorn kernels from freezing to their tongues.
The Burton Theatre is a new independent cinema in the Heart of Detroit that features classic art house, independent, LGBT, foreign and cult films. Responding to the shortage of art house venues in the city, the Burton Theatre aims to help Detroit rival Chicago and New York as a center for independent film.
Game Headz powers up electronic arsenals with its selection of pre-owned games and machines. With portable systems such as a used Nintendo Game Boy Advance ($19.99), nature-loving gamers entertain themselves while basking in summer’s embrace. Button mashers whip lazy thumbs into shape with recent titles ($20–$30) such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Saints Row 2, Fable II, and Resident Evil 4. Classic Atari games let customers dust off their “Tilden 4 President” bumper stickers and revisit an earlier chapter in video-game history. An affable staff of console buffs is always on hand to point visitors to exciting titles and engage in debates about the finer points of pixilated entertainment.
Phoenix Theatres transports its audiences to exotic lands, forbidden romances, and CGI-animal kingdoms of the 100% digital silver screen. With some films shown in RealD XL 3-D, crowds can immerse themselves even further into the suspended belief of film. Phoenix Theatres' Ensemble offers a rotating selection specialty programs such as plays, operas, and ballets. Concessions provide free refills on sodas and large popcorns, fueling imaginations for sprints toward stories' thrilling or heartwarming resolutions.