Annual film festival prepares to tug hearts, motivate

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 26, 2018

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Uninspired about changing the world around you?

Attend the fifth annual Greater Farmington Film Festival, which has something for you to see, and be galvanized March 1-4.

The seven-film lineup will be shown at the Farmington Civic Theater, the Holocaust Memorial Center and Oakland Community College. Offerings include a bold documentary about New York City-based activism and a genre-bending, documentary-inspired animated film on orphaned children in Swaziland.

Though the films are vastly different, the drive, ambition and concern for others are thematically consistent.

Lesa Ferencz, co-chair of the festival, said art is the mirror of society.

“I think that would absolutely include filmmaking. We have a line of films that include some incredible stories,” she said, adding that many of them are about facing adversity and triumphing over problems. “All of those things ... are really timely, good reminders that people can be much stronger than their circumstances.”

Festival co-founder Dwayne Hayes said the festival is surreal.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve made it to five years already. It’s exciting … something that we hope becomes a long-standing part of the community,” Hayes said.

The film festival will kick off with “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” at 7:30 p.m. March 1 at OCC’s Smith Theatre. The 92-minute documentary directed by Matt Tyrnauer is about activist Jane Jacobs, whose book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” focuses on the consequences of modern planners’ and architects’ reconfiguration of cities, according to a press release. The film is an examination of New York City today and what it could have become had Jacobs not stepped in. According to the press release, a panel-led community conversation will follow the film.

“The Breadwinner” will be next up at 7 p.m. March 2 at the Farmington Civic Theater. The 94-minute animated film ​features 11-year-old Parvana living under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, according to the release. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana changes her identity and dresses like a boy to support her family.

Hayes said the film is “beautifully animated,” and it’s been nominated for an Academy Award.

“We’re excited about presenting the film,” he said, noting its depiction of contemporary life in Afghanistan.

Hayes said that a small group of about eight to 10 people sit down and make the film selections, choosing a mix of styles and subject matter.

“We’re always excited to see what that mix turns out to be,” Hayes said, adding that another gem, “Rebels on Pointe,” will run at 2:30 p.m. March 4 at the HMC.

Directed by Bobbi Jo Hart, the 90-minute documentary showcases the world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male drag ballet company founded over 40 years ago in New York City, according to the press release.

“‘Rebels on Pointe’ (is a) really fun movie about this world-famous ballet,” he said. “They blend a lot of comedy into what they do, so their performances are not only beautifully performed, but add such a humor to them as well.”

Hayes added that he hopes attendees walk away with a “smile on their face.”

“We always want the audiences to leave feeling inspired  that they can make a difference in the world,” he said. “It only takes one person, that they can be inspired to do something good in the world they touch ... in their community, in their neighborhood, in their family — that is what we hope happens.”

The Farmington Civic Theater is located at 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington. The Smith Theatre, at the Oakland Community College Orchard Ridge Campus, is located at 27055 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills. The HMC is located at 28123 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills.

Tickets cost $6 per film or $30 for a festival pass. They are available at

The festival is sponsored by the nonprofit kickstART Farmington, the Farmington Hills Special Services Cultural Arts Division, Oakland Community College, and a host of other local groups and organizations.