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Mitten Movie Project Showcases Local Filmmakers

Makers and movie buffs pack the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak each month to celebrate and enjoy independent works.

Connie Mangilin has turned her passion for and about independent filmmaking into the Mitten Movie Project, a monthly must-go event in Royal Oak.

Mangilin, the project curator and Detroit filmmaker, selects 12-16 shorts representing a wide variety of genres to be shown the first Tuesday of each month at the . “This location is great,” Mangilin said. “It’s central to both Detroiters and people that live in the suburbs.”

On Tuesday it was standing-room only for the film festival that showcases the work of mostly local filmmakers.

Named “Best Short Film” by the audience at Tuesday’s event was Being Custer by Denn Pietro of Southgate. His film tells the story of a man whose father is dying in prison after being convicted for a murder he may not have committed.

“I was nervous going into it,” Pietro said. “You want the audience to like it. It was awesome to see a reaction before, during and after. And having the Mitten Movie Project showing at the Main Art Theatre is a really cool experience because it gives filmmakers a chance to come out and see each other’s work.”

Filmmaker Denver Rochon of Madison Heights submitted It was Nice, a documentary that captured a day in the life of 84-year-old Lydia Nicolai, who has passed away since the film was made.

“Tonight’s audience was great,” Rochon said. “I think it was the largest audience I’ve seen since last year’s zombie screening. I had to stand in the back. It was pretty much standing-room only. I saw someone wiping a tear from their eye. The applause at the end, it’s really emotionally satisfying.”

Robert Butler of Ortonville submitted The Spirit of Isabel, a dark drama about a Detroit woman forced to hit the streets in the wake of a struggling economy. Butler has had multiple short films shown at the Mitten Movie Project in the past.

“It’s a great opportunity for local filmmakers to screen their work,” he said. “There’s no submission fee for this event. Plus you’re screening in downtown Royal Oak. It’s a great community. It’s a great environment.”

Mangilin views every submission. She said there are no strict guidelines, although some films don’t make the cut. DVD submissions are preferred. 

If you’d like to submit a short film for a future screening, visit www.facebook.com/mittenmovieproject for submission and technical guidelines. 

The next three months are already booked. In October, scary films will be featured, zombie night returns in November, and the year’s best, including Being Custer, will be showcased in December.    

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