Film festival celebrates Michigan-made movies

C&G Newspapers | Published March 2, 2011

 The first annual Uptown Film Festival will be held at the Uptown Palladium 12 Theatre, 250 N. Old Woodward Ave., and the Birmingham 8, 211 S. Old Woodward Ave.

The first annual Uptown Film Festival will be held at the Uptown Palladium 12 Theatre, 250 N. Old Woodward Ave., and the Birmingham 8, 211 S. Old Woodward Ave.

Photos by Erin Sanchez

BIRMINGHAM — Celebrities, local actors and movie buffs will come together during the first annual Uptown Film Festival to celebrate an event organizers say will showcase the best films made in Michigan over the past year.

Established this year by leaders in the Michigan film industry, the Uptown Film Festival is a two-night celebration of productions created entirely or in part in the state to recognize the Michigan film industry.

Presented by Oakland County Michigan Film and Digital Media, the Michigan Film Office, the Detroit Medical Center and the Stautzenberger Institute FIT program, the festival will take place March 11-12 in downtown Birmingham at the Uptown Palladium 12 Theatre, 250 N. Old Woodward Ave., and the Birmingham 8, 211 S. Old Woodward Ave.

“The films and talent highlighted during this event have played key roles in the substantial growth and success of the Michigan film industry during the past several years. This festival recognizes the hard work and dedication of the state’s film industry professionals, and the productions they’ve created in Michigan,” he said in a statement.

A VIP premiere of “Kill the Irishman,” starring Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer and Ray Stevenson, will open the festival March 11, benefiting Gleaners Community Food Bank, the Arthritis Foundation and The Detroit Institute of Arts. Only those who purchase a festival pass will be able to attend the VIP premiere.

“Kill the Irishman,” which was filmed in Detroit, is the true story of Danny Greene, a tough Irish thug working for mobsters in Cleveland during the 1970s.

Bloomfield Hills 10-year-old Trevor Callaghan, who attends St. Hugo of the Hills Elementary School, makes an appearance during the movie as “The Cleveland Kid.” Callaghan, who was also featured in “Butterfly Effect: Revelation” and has been in numerous commercials and print ads, says he was “really good” for the part of “The Cleveland Kid,” because he is Italian and Irish.

He had to memorize eight lines in the film for a conversation with Danny Greene, played by actor Ray Stevenson, during the scene — which was filmed over one day in August of 2009 in downtown Detroit, a block behind the Fox Theatre. “The Cleveland Kid” is the last person to see Danny Greene alive. He rides up on a bike and has a brief conversation with Greene, who later gets into his car and is killed when it blows up.

Although Director Jonathan Hensleigh gave Callaghan a few pointers on how to sound a little tougher in his delivery, he said he wasn’t nervous at all working on the set.

“It was really fun there,” he said. “It was exciting to see the old cars blow up, and meeting all the stars was cool.”
Callaghan’s mom, Kate, said she is happy her son was chosen for the role, noting that they had a great time during the filming.

“It’s something that will give him confidence in the future. It’s a great experience, that’s how we look at it,” she said. “He’s been bitten by the acting bug.”

Other Michigan premieres on March 11 include “Lucky,” a dramatic comedy and contemporary character study about the relationships between men and women, and “Answer This,” a comedy set in the world of competitive bar trivia that was filmed at the University of Michigan and centers around a group of frustrated academics who get a shot at beer, women and “nerdy redemption.”

The festival will come to an end March 12, beginning with the Michigan premiere of “Things Fall Apart,” starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Ray Liotta and Mario Van Peebles. “Things Fall Apart” is a sports drama focused on a promising football running back during his senior year in college.

The second annual Michigan Film Awards ceremony and post-awards afterglow will immediately follow to close out the festival.

For more information about the festival, or to purchase tickets, visit www.uptownfilmfestival.com or call (248) 723-6220.