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OCC - Orchard Ridge Campus

Traversing the Videoverse




The Riviera Cinema

Common Ground


The Riviera Cinema

Mourning In Lod



The Riviera Cinema

Summer Qamp


Farmington Civic Theater

Kid Flicks



The Riviera Cinema

Movies In The Mitten


The Riviera Cinema

Welcome to Commie High

w/Tea in the Land of Thunder


The Riviera Cinema



KickstART Gallery

Festival Party


KickstART Gallery

Can Art Stop War?


The Zekelman Holocaust Center

Irena's Vow


Special Program ⎮ Donald Harrison, Michigan Featured Artist Presentation ⎮ FREE

4pm ⎮ Oakland Community College - Orchard Ridge Campus,  Building J, Room J294



Join GFFF in kicking off our 10th anniversary festival with a presentation and talk: Traversing the Videoverse with this year's Michigan Featured Artist, filmmaker and producer, Donald Harrison.

Donald started 7 Cylinders Studio in 2012 and serves as lead producer & director, working on client projects in all aspects of production, strategy and outreach. As an independent filmmaker he’s produced and directed the feature documentary—Welcome to Commie High—and several short films that have screened nationally. He’s taught film & video courses at the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and The Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor. Donald served as Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival  from 2008 – 2012, expanding the organization’s audience, outreach, donors, sponsors and staff through its historic 50th season. He worked and studied at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco (2001-2006) and received a bachelor of arts in social psychology from the University of Michigan (1995). Donald is also a co-founder & co-chair of independent Film Festival Ypsilanti (iFFY).

Traversing the Videoverse

Videos these days can appear in many forms, in all kinds of places. In this presentation by video producer and independent filmmaker Donald Harrison, we'll adventure through video-based landscapes looking for signs of intelligent life, online and beyond. Focusing on short videos, produced across a decade by his studio, questions of who and why will guide our exploration of the "videoverse" as much as what and how. 

Don't miss Donald's feature film, WELCOME TO COMMIE HIGH and two of his short films on Saturday.

Common Ground ⎮ Josh Tickell & Rebecca Tickell ⎮2023 ⎮ USA ⎮105 Min

7pm ⎮ The Riviera Cinema

COMMON GROUND is the highly anticipated sequel to the juggernaut success documentary Kiss the Ground, which touched over 1 billion people globally and inspired the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to put $20 billion toward soil health.

By fusing journalistic exposé with deeply personal stories from those on the front lines of the sustainable food movement, COMMON GROUND unveils a dark web of money, power, and politics behind our broken food system.

The film reveals how racist practices forged our current farm system in which farmers of all colors are literally dying to feed us.

The film profiles a hopeful and uplifting movement of white, black, and indigenous farmers who are using alternative “regenerative” models of agriculture that could balance the climate, save our health, and stabilize America’s economy — 
before it’s too late.


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Mourning In Lod ⎮ Hilla Medalia ⎮2023 ⎮ USA ⎮73 Min
followed by a supplemental video ⎮ 18 Min

7pm ⎮ The Riviera Cinema


From the director of Dancing in Jaffa, MOURNING IN LOD follows the fates of three families that are inextricably intertwined in a vicious cycle of violence in the city of Lod, Israel, where Israelis and Palestinians live side by side. The outpouring of love, anger and forgiveness that follows offers a glimpse of morning light to offset a collective state of seemingly endless mourning.

“There is a Jewish-Arab shared destiny, but that doesn't alleviate the pain on either side. In 'Mourning in Lod,' Hilla Medalia focuses on three people whose lives were derailed by riots in the mixed city of Lod. She documents with great sensitivity this difficult story, which is far from being over. The film emphasizes that although men are mostly the ones who pay for the violent situation with their lives, women are the ones who are left behind to pick up the pieces.”


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Summer Qamp ⎮ Jen Markowitz ⎮2023 ⎮ CANADA ⎮80 Min

9pm ⎮ The Riviera Cinema

Buried within the woods of Alberta, Canada sits camp fYrefly, a haven for LGBTQIA2S+ teens, far away from the fierce political battle currently being waged against queer expression and gender identity. SUMMER QAMP invites audiences into the innocence and joy of a summer away with friends, while never losing sight of the bravery of these young protagonists whose very existence is challenged in their normal lives.

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Special Program ⎮ Kid Flicks  ⎮ 2023 ⎮70 Min ⎮FREE

10 am ⎮ Farmington Civic Theater

Let your imagination take the wheel with Kid Flicks. Whether dreaming up the fantastical, like a spider’s goal to capture the moon, or the practical, like a young animator’s future stardom, these shorts are sure to enchant and delight all audiences (but especially our youngest!)


Toko Shiiki  ⎮ 2022 ⎮USA ⎮ 3 Min

Animator Rachel Reid exudes joy as she talks about being an animator, encouraging others to follow in her footsteps.

A Whisper in the Island of the Heart
Xiaowen Wang  ⎮ 2022 ⎮USA ⎮ 13 Min

Love communicates across the Tibetan mountains, against a warm coat of fur, and through sound waves and vibrations, proving silence can speak volumes.

The Goose (L’Oie du plus fort)
Jan Mika ⎮ Czech Republic, France 2023 ⎮13 Min

It’s a football tale as old as time: boy vs. goose…?

Luce and the Rock
Britt Raes ⎮ Belgium, France, Netherlands  ⎮ 2022 ⎮ 13 Min

When a giant boulder lands in the middle of Luce’s small geometric village, it’s up to him to find a solution, even though he’s scared of the dark.

Swing to the Moon
Marie Bordessoule ⎮ France ⎮2022    
7 Min

Deep in the forest, wide-eyed spider Temi dreams of catching the Moon. For that, she will do anything.

Fabián Molinaro  ⎮ 2022 ⎮Spain
7 Min

As he prepares for a life-changing voyage, Nico can’t help but pack up everything he loves in his house.

To Be Sisters (Entre deux sœurs)
Anne-Sophie Gousset & Clément Céard  2022 ⎮France ⎮ 13 Min

Two sisters circle each other’s orbits, laughing, shouting, playing, and spinning each in their own unique way.





Movies In The Mitten ⎮ Short Film Program, followed by a Q&A with the visiting filmmakers

4pm ⎮ The Riviera Cinema

Island ⎮ Jack Cronin  ⎮ 2023 ⎮Ann Arbor ⎮ 2.5 Min


A lyrical filmic postcard from Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior, Michigan. 

Jack Cronin is a filmmaker and educator born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Working in both analog and digital formats, his practice often combines documentary and experimental techniques to explore urban and natural landscapes, the cycles of the seasons, along with poetic interpretations
of place. He received a BS in Film from Eastern Michigan University and an MFA in Film from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His films have been exhibited at festivals, museums and galleries. He has taught film and media arts at Wayne State University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and College for Creative Studies. Jack is currently a faculty member at Oakland Community College.

Functional Art ⎮ Matthew Wagner  ⎮ 2022 ⎮Owosso ⎮ 5.5 Min


Mitch is a Michigan based surfboard shaper for surfers in the Great Lakes region. He loves seeing people get out on the water on a board that they truly love!

Matthew Wagner is a Documentary Filmmaker based in Michigan who has a passion for documenting unique sub-cultures, outdoor adventures, and stories of impact.

Pheasants of Detroit ⎮ Diane Cheklich & Diane Weiss  ⎮ 2022 ⎮Detroit ⎮ 16.5 Min

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Ring-necked Pheasants, typically known as a rural farmland species, are thriving in the open spaces of Detroit. A little human-pheasant subculture has developed in the city—pheasants are neighbors to human residents and muses to local artists—and pheasants have become the unofficial city bird of Detroit! Join everyday Detroiters in a walk around the city as we celebrate these funky birds at home in their urban element.

Diane Cheklich is an independent film director and producer from Detroit. In 2014 Ms. Cheklich received a Kresge Artist Fellowship in Film. Her award-winning feature film, Offshore, is an Indo-American movie that was shot in both the U.S. and India. Diane has also written and directed several short films, including the award-winning short doc Pheasants of Detroit (2022), Rain: Then and Now (2020), Doctor Reddy (2008), which is in distribution through Ouat Media, and LATE (2003), which has played at film festivals around the world and is in distribution through the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

Diane Weiss is an award-winning photographer who has worked for newspapers and newswires around the country, most recently for the Detroit Free Press. Her solo photography projects include a Brush Park neighborhood series entitled “BrushPark_MyHood,” and a profile of ironworkers constructing Little Caesars Arena, that was published as a special feature in the Detroit Free Press. 

Trees of Heaven ⎮ Donald Harrison  ⎮ 2020 ⎮Ann Arbor ⎮ 6 Min


"These invasive weed trees are coming soon to a yard near you." The Tree of Heaven is called many things—officially it's Ailanthus Altissima, but is sometimes referred to as stink sumac, ghetto palm or tree of hell.

The Illustrious Clyde Cup ⎮ Ben Filler  ⎮ 2023⎮Detroit ⎮ 10 Min

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The Illustrious Clyde Cup (Ben Filler, 2023) is a dynamic and experimental short sports documentary that thrusts audiences into the heart of a “high-stakes” mini-golf tournament unfurling against the urban backdrop of Detroit. Shot in a single afternoon at the vibrant Lasky Recreation Center, the film meticulously captures the essence of an annual competition that transforms a leisurely pastime into a fiercely contested event.


Participants are divided into two rival teams: Detroit city residents and their suburban counterparts. The film skillfully navigates the tensions and camaraderie that emerge among friends turned competitors, offering an intimate glimpse into the relationships that fuel this gripping tournament.

Through innovative cinematography and narrative flair, The Illustrious Clyde Cup transcends the conventional sports documentary, embracing an experimental approach that mirrors the unpredictability of the mini-golf battleground. The Lasky Recreation Center becomes a microcosm of both competition and community, and as the competition unfolds, viewers are taken on a journey that explores the intersections of friendship, rivalry, and the unique urban-suburban dynamic. 


This compelling short film is a testament to director Ben Filler's ability to transform a seemingly mundane event into a riveting cinematic experience. As the festival audience immerses themselves in the unfolding drama, The Illustrious Clyde Cup invites them to witness the convergence of sport and storytelling in a way that is as unpredictable and thrilling as the mini-golf tournament it captures.

Ben Filler is an independent artist with a rich background in collaborative ventures including Scrummage University, Yuppie Couples, The Great Northern, and other artist collectives in and around Detroit and Toronto. He is especially renowned for his significant contributions to the realm of experimental performance and recording arts. Filler's journey is marked by a steadfast dedication to his craft, exemplified by his imminent graduation from the esteemed Cinematic Arts program at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills—a milestone made achievable through the Michigan Reconnect program.

Caged Lion ⎮ John Kerfoot  ⎮ 2024 ⎮Grosse Pointe ⎮ 4.5 Min

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 A devoted fan vows to remain in his basement until the Detroit Lions make it to the Super Bowl. 

John Kerfoot is from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in Media Arts from Wayne State University, and M.F.A. in Film Directing from Ohio University. He has taught Film & Video classes at Wayne State and currently teaches at Macomb Community College. His satire web series, Not So Pure Michigan, has over 30 million views. 

Dead Bread [How Passion Shapes Community] ⎮ Matthew Wagner  ⎮ 2023 ⎮Owosso ⎮ 7 Min


In a Small Town with a rich history of BMX, Skate shop owner and Pro BMX rider Nick Seabasty has overcome many obstacles that have informed his passion to see a new generation of skaters and BMX riders in his community.

Matthew Wagner is a Documentary Filmmaker based in Michigan who has a passion for documenting unique sub-cultures, outdoor adventures, and stories of impact.

Untitled and Unfinished ⎮ Justin Park-Swanson ⎮ 2023⎮Ann Arbor ⎮ 9 Min


A college student nearing graduation reminisces on his time spent in school and questions if they were well spent, as he struggles to finish his writing project.

Justin Park-Swanson is a student at the University of Michigan with a strong passion for filmmaking that started from a vast collection of dvd's from his grandfather's study.

(green before "green") ⎮ Atticus Echeverria & Paul Echeverria  ⎮ 2023 ⎮Ypsilanti ⎮ 16.5 Min


Looking back on my childhood, the ability to reproduce images began on my 8th birthday. On that day, I was gifted a Polaroid camera. The camera proved to be a momentous resource. From that point forward, I had a tool that would enable the preservation of my visual perception. A small collection of Polaroids would serve as an amplification of childhood narrative and memory.

In contrast, my son, Atticus, had expanded access to photographic technology. Soon after his first birthday, he developed a curiosity for image reproduction. His linguistic skills had not yet developed; however, he had a noticeable awareness for capturing photos and videos. Over the course of several months, he composed a large collection of still and motion images. Upon reviewing the content, Stan Brakhage’s notion of an “untutored eye” began to emerge. Within these photographs, it became evident that Atticus had not yet conformed to accepted laws of perspective or logic. In short, he was immersed in an adventure of pre-language perception.

(green before “green”) documents these contrasting stages of optical perception. Within Atticus' collection of stills and video, it is possible to observe an uninhibited exploration of movement and freedom. In comparison, my meager collection of Polaroids displays a visual awareness encapsulated within the margins of the frame. The photographs are interpreted via the limitations of storytelling and spoken language. (green before “green”) contemplates the complex intersections between family, parent, and child. Furthermore, the film attempts to authenticate the contrast between structured and unstructured points of view. Namely, does visual perception change through the acquisition of language?

Atticus Echeverria is a student at Bishop Elementary in Ypsilanti, MI. He enjoys exploring nature, riding his bike, and collecting Star Wars toys. (green before "green") is his first film.

Paul Echeverria is a filmmaker, digital artist and educator. His research and creative practice examine the formative dynamics between childhood, parenthood and the family structure. In addition, he produces work that contemplates the inevitable collision between humans and technology. Echeverria works with multiple forms of media, including film, video, augmented/virtual reality, performance, social media, data manipulation, podcasting and e-literature.

Woman ⎮ Kaylie Marie MacGillis ⎮ 2023⎮Sylvan Lake ⎮ 5 Min


The experimental documentary “Woman" addresses hurdles women face on a day to day basis. It brings attention to the injustices and disrespect every woman experiences and helps them to feel heard in a world that tells them to be quiet. Women from all over the world provided videos of themselves without makeup. Women that have experienced these things. The goal is to bring attention to these problems and make it more personal by seeing the women these things have happened to while listening to this story.

Kaylie MacGillis is a Senior Film Student at Wayne State University and has a strong passion for filmmaking. She strives to use film as a medium to spread positive messages and promote understanding and compassion throughout the community.

Kaylie MacGillis is a Filmmaker and Photographer in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. Pulling her inspiration from artist John Baldessari, she focuses on creating films and taking pictures that showcase the beauty of the world that not everyone sees. Addressing a variety of social justice issues while also balancing a fun and happy environment is of utmost importance to her. Capturing moments in time through a camera, whether it be through filmmaking or photography, is how she chooses to share her unique creativity with the world. 

The Facts ⎮ Chris Bernstorf & Amanda Bernstorf  ⎮ 2019 ⎮ Trenton ⎮ 1 Min

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A video for a love poem of the same name.

If Matthew Dickman and Pablo Neruda conceived a child while crowdsurfing at a punk show and then raised the newborn in one of those bio tubes from a sci-fi movie, amalgamating the pseudo-amniotic-fluid from church, Chipotle, and pop culture, then you’d have something akin to Chris Bernstorf’s poetry. His filmmaking was birthed out of a practical need for compelling visuals to share his poetry and has since grown into a full-fledged channel of his poetry career.  He makes his short films with his wife Amanda Bernstorf, who is also the principal member of Michigan mall emo band Visitor Pass.  She is the real hero, acting as an editor, producer, actress, logistics coordinator, and general make-it-happen person.  The couple have produced a variety of live performance videos and two short films, the latter of which have been official selections at numerous film festivals, screening live across North America, Europe, and Australia.  They give all of their work available for free, so you can find all of their work streaming for free across the internet and available for free directly from them.  They are always just really glad to be here.

 Donald Harrison ⎮ Michigan Featured Artist Presentation

7pm ⎮ The Riviera Cinema

Tea in the Land of Thunder: Field Notes from Darjeeling ⎮ Donald Harrison
2016 ⎮USA ⎮ 16 Min

Jeremy Lopatin, an American importer of organic tea, visited the Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India, to get a firsthand look at how top-notch Darjeeling teas are made. This short film takes the viewer on an adventure to explore the beautiful people, places, and processes behind the creation of organic Darjeeling teas in 'the land of thunder'.​


Welcome to Commie High ⎮ Donald Harrison  ⎮ 2020 ⎮USA ⎮ 94 Min

WELCOME TO COMMIE HIGH explores an experiment in public education: Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The film begins by documenting the school's humanistic, anti-establishment origins in the early 1970s. By the '90s, enrollment demands for this alternative, small school led to a wild craze of long lines, camp outs and convoluted lottery systems for students hoping to attend. Today, Community High stands as one of the last public schools from America's "free school" movement.

Filmed over the course of a full school year, we see how the "Commie High" model has evolved to reflect the world around it and shows us what's possible within public education when "no" is not the standard answer.

"This is terrific! I loved every second of it." - Ken Burns



UnCharitable ⎮ Stephen Gyllenhaal ⎮2023 ⎮ USA ⎮90 Min

9pm ⎮ The Riviera Cinema

After three of the most dynamic and successful U.S. charities were shut down by conservative charity watchdogs, destroying lives and cutting off precious resources, many of the top influencers in the field knew something had to be done to overhaul the nonprofit sector.

Beginning with Dan Pallotta, whose record-breaking Ted Talk on the subject has inspired top
philanthropists and changemakers, this feature documentary exposes the dark side of philanthropy and introduces a radical new way of giving. In an emotional call to action, Uncharitable demands that charities be freed from the traditional sackcloth-and-ashes constraints, so that they can truly change the world.


No topic is more crucial and timelier as we confront an increasingly unstable world with the growing revelation that we are all interconnected and that our fate lies in how much we are willing to invest in positive change.







Special Program ⎮ Can Art Stop War ? ⎮ FREE

11:30am ⎮ KickstART Gallery & Shop


Join us for what will surely be a mentally stimulating salon and continental breakfast with cinema raconteur, Gerry Fialka.

Gerry Fialka, an experimentalist & paramedia podcaster lectures world-wide on avant-garde cinema, art and subversive social media, probing the hidden psyche effects of our inventions. "Deeply dedicated to exploration of new knowledge" - Leslie Raymond, Ann Arbor Film Festival Director, "the multi-media Renaissance man" - LA Times, "A cultural revolutionary -  LA Weekly. His book, Strange Questions: Experimental Film as Conversation, asks “unexpected Questions about important Ideas, eliciting Answers that surprise even those doing the answering." - David Gatten. His PXL THIS Film Festival celebrates electronic folk art for over 30 years. His McLuhan-FINNEGANS WAKE Reading Club celebrates over 29 years of finding epiphanies in everydayness.

CAN ART STOP WAR ! - Gerry Fialka's interactive salon probes the hidden psychic effects of cinema and political activism. Sidney Lumet said “Film can’t do diddly-squat, but it’s not going to keep me from trying.” D. W Griffith proclaimed over 100 years ago, that in 2024 "cinema will end warfare."


Explore how James Joyce’s 1939 book FINNEGANS WAKE (and Marshall McLuhan’s Menippean satirized translation of it) presaged the art of movies making a difference. 


Joyce caps his word play on the words of peace with a prayer of reverent clarity: "O Peace!" Author of the book The Ethics of Love, Dr. Benjamin Boysen wrote "From all accounts, Joyce is said to have claimed that World War II need never have happened if Europeans had read his last book, FINNEGANS WAKE." James Joyce said, "Now they're bombing Spain. Isn't it better to make a joke instead, as I have done?" Joyce's response to the nightmarish history of warfare is exactly stressed in three words on page 364 of the WAKE: "peace peace perfectpeace!"


The WAKE resonates with ground-breaking documentaries like Battle of Algiers, and The Day After Trinity, whose maker Jon Else recently appeared on Fialka’s podcast. Delve deep into how the WAKE propagates peace (NOT WAR) ala Marija Gimbutas, who upholds goddess-centered societies by honoring women and espousing the matristic manifesto ("mamafesta") of cooperation and partnership. 


How do we stop our governments from going to war? Activism? Filmmaking? Art? Music? Poetry?

"If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live." - JFK

"The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed...because people are changed by art - enriched, ennobled, encouraged - they then act in a way that may affect the course of the way they vote, they behave, the way they think." - Leonard Bernstein 

“World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” - McLuhan, 1970.

Irena's Vow ⎮ Louise Archambault ⎮2023 ⎮ Canada, Poland ⎮121 Min

2pm ⎮ The Zekelman Holocaust Center

Warsaw, 1939: when the Nazis invade Poland, nurse Irena Gut (Sophie Nélisse) is displaced and forced to work in support of the German war effort, eventually assigned to run the home of a Nazi commandant (Dougray Scott). Instead of following the path of least resistance and gambling on her status and ethnicity to keep her safe, Gut risks everything to save a dozen Jewish refugees from persecution and murder, sheltering them under her boss’s nose. With fascism proudly elbowing its way back onto the national stage, it sadly feels urgent and necessary to give this story a dramatic spotlight.​




The Zekelman Holocaust Center is proud to partner with the Greater Farmington Hills Film Festival.

Tickets for Irena’s Vow includes admission to the museum.

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