MCFF is ecstatic to present an exceptional, rare, and bountiful offering of over 70 films made by some of cinema’s most extraordinary practitioners. Many of the works will be screened in their original formats including Super 8, 16mm, 35mm, and digital. The festival’s full program schedule can be found at mediacityfilmfestival.com
MCFF’s 26th edition will provide local, national, and global audiences with access to new works, world premieres, restorations, and historical masterpieces by a Gnostic Saint and Grammy Award-winner for Lifetime Achievement, as well as winners of the Golden Lion, MacArthur “Genius Grant”, and many other acclaimed artists. Simone Leigh, Michael Snow, Harry Smith, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Sarah Maldoror, Skip Norman, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, Adam Piron, Sharon Lockhart, Rose Lowder, Helga Fanderl, Sky Hopinka, and dozens more will be showcased at the festival, offering a rare chance for audiences to experience a large survey of global artists’ cinema with visiting guests attending from around the world.
MCFF’s legendary Opening Night Detroit kicks off the festival’s 26th edition Tuesday, November 7 at 7pm with a spectacular evening at the majestic Detroit Film Theatre, at the Detroit Institute of Arts. An Ecstatic Experience Segues to Infinity opens with a film retrospective celebrating Ja’Tovia Gary. The program focuses on work Gary has produced between 2015–2023, including the Detroit premiere of Quiet as It’s Kept (2023), a cinematic response to Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye.
Ja’Tovia Gary’s screening is followed by the first-ever Detroit performance by venerable multi-instrumentalist and mystic Laraaji. Collaborator with Brian Eno, Blues Control, and others, Laraaji has more than 50 releases to his credit (1978–2023).
MCFF’s launches on the Canadian side of the border in Windsor at The Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, November 8 at 6pm. The festival’s Free Opening Night Party is a great chance to meet filmmakers and guests attending from around the world.
Come Out: Films of Narcisa Hirsch, a focus on the trailblazing Argentine filmmaker, follows MCFF’s Opening Night party. MCFF’s retrospective coincides with a major restoration project (as recently announced in La Nación) preserving the cinematic legacy of one of the foremost living figures in South American avant-garde history. Across the last seven decades, Hirsch has been immersed in a collaborative milieu that helped make Buenos Aires one of the vibrant centres of the post-war avant-garde. Come Out features rare films never before screened outside of Argentina, including new 35mm and digital restorations. Tomas Rautenstrauch, director of the Filmoteca Narcisa Hirsch, attends from Buenos Aires to introduce this special event.
MCFF’s International Competition Programs are the heart of the festival, featuring more than 50 film and digital artworks by a jaw-dropping roster of senior and emerging international filmmakers representing more than 25 nations. This section offers world, international, and Canadian premieres of new films—some of which will never screen in a cinema context again—alongside a powerful selection of essential historical masterworks.
MCFF’s 26th edition is dedicated to Canadian treasure Michael Snow, who passed away earlier this year. To honour the festival’s previous collaborations with the artist in Windsor-Detroit, Snow’s film Standard Time (1967) will play alongside Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice (1977), Mike Stoltz’s Holographic Will (2023), Morgan Quaintance’s Repetitions (2022) and Ben Russell’s Against Time (2022). Snow’s longtime friend and collaborator Mani Mazinani has selected a poem to memorialize the artist, which opens MCFF’s 120-page festival catalogue.
Occurring amidst a major resurgence of interest in Grammy Award-winning polymath artist Harry Smith—including his first retrospective exhibition, on view now at the Whitney Museum of American Art—MCFF has teamed up with Anthology Film Archives to present a restoration of his seminal Film No. 11 (Mirror Animations) (1956–57). This film is the first treasure screening in MCFF’s International Program.
Simone Leigh, the first Black woman to represent the USA at the Venice Biennale, returns to MCFF with her collaborative short Conspiracy (2022). Featuring the great Lorraine O’Grady and a cast of co-conspirators, including the film’s co-creator, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, MCFF’s presentation of Conspiracy is a rare opportunity to see the film since Leigh won the Golden Lion at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Conspiracy is detailed in MCFF’s commissioned dossier by Yasmina Price, which was recently reprinted in a groundbreaking new monograph about Leigh’s artistic practice. MCFF also presents the world theatrical premiere of Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich’s Too Bright to See (2023), a visionary portrait of the radical Martinican author Suzanne Roussi-Césaire. Hunt-Erhlich is winner of a 2023 Herb Alpert Award, together with MCFF Chrysalis Fellow Christopher Harris.
Following world premieres at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, screenings at the Academy Museum, and dozens of other venues worldwide, two films produced by MCFF receive their homecoming presentations. Japanese-Canadian filmmaker Daïchi Saïto’s highly-acclaimed masterpiece earthearthearth (2021) and Argentine filmmaker Pablo Mazzolo’s The Newest Olds (2022) will be projected in their original 35mm formats. earthearthearth took seven years to complete after MCFF’s initial production tour in South America, and was purchased for the Academy Film Archive’s collection last May. The Newest Olds is the second film Mazzolo has made in Windsor-Detroit, depicting the area’s shared urban and natural landscapes. Mazzolo arrives early from Buenos Aires to begin shooting the final work in his trilogy.
On the heels of MCFF’s landmark exhibition MOONSHINE: The Celestial Films of Kevin Jerome Everson, the artist’s first solo gallery show in Canada, Kevin Jerome Everson returns for his tenth in person appearance at MCFF with the world and Canadian premieres of three new films: Richland Descending (2023), boyd v. denton (2023), and Hough 66 (2023). Distinguished American artist Sharon Lockhart attends MCFF with a career-spanning solo program that pairs her acclaimed film NŌ (2003)—to mark the 20th anniversary of its creation—with her most recent piece EVENTIDE (2022), a meditation filmed on the Swedish coast that uses choreography to explore landscape, communal relations, grief, and psychic endurance.
Helga Fanderl attends from Berlin to present a suite of recent Super 8 films, all of which are world premieres, screening along with new pieces by Ute Aurand, Nathaniel Dorsky, and Robert Beavers. Rose Lowder, winner of the 2023 AWARE award for outstanding merit, presents the most recent episode in her series Bouquets 31–40 (2015-2022). She attends from France.
As a hat tip to MCFF’s widely celebrated Radical Acts of Care exhibition (2020), renowned Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad’s masterpiece The House is Black (1962) is shown together with contemporary films by Iranian compatriot Maryam Tafakory (Mast-del, 2023), which had its world premiere at Cannes this summer, and Nour Ouayda’s The Secret Garden (2023). Ouayda attends from Beirut, Lebanon. Following MCFF’s ThousandSuns Cinema: Indigenous Edition, new films by Adam Piron, Fox Maxy, Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Sky Hopinka will also be shown during fest week.