By Lana

I stumbled across the Cinetopia Film Festival about two years ago while searching for a new volunteer opportunity and was pleasantly surprised at the offerings. The festival features films from the world festivals (Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca) and is held at venues in Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit.

According to the website, “Cinetopia honors the rich heritage of cinematic culture and Michigan’s proud legacy of outstanding cinema artists through special pre- and post-film events, including presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers, and stars.” Before I discovered the festival, I used to go to the beautiful cinema located inside the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) theatre on Woodward Avenue, before realizing that there were venues closer to home.

My first foray into the first festival was in Ann Arbor at the State Theatre where I ushered for four films. In return, I received a tee shirt and four passes (a film for each movie ushered). However, the real reward for me was the ability to sit in on the film discussions and meet new people with similar interests.
Juneteenth: (“June” plus “nineteen”)

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” —General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865.

According to the Juneteenth website, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued the above order, he had no idea that he was also establishing the basis for a holiday, “Juneteenth”. It is the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. It began in Galveston, Texas in 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation that marked the end of slavery in the Confederacy (at least on paper) had taken effect two-and-a-half years before. In 1979 Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday.

I learnt about the African American Festival when I took an undergraduate class in African American history. It celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States and marks African American Emancipation Day. It is the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. I have attended several Juneteenth festivals in Ann Arbor, at Wheeler Park and enjoyed the games, entertainment, food, and vendors, and it is also an occasion for speeches and racial upliftment.

Each emancipation celebration is different: the Emancipation Proclamation may be read, there may be religious sermons, spirituals may be sung, and new games and traditions may or not be added. For me, the biggest discovery about Juneteenth is that it is celebrated outside of the United States in countries in South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. It is possible that Juneteenth would have vanished from the calendar (at least outside of Texas) had it not been for another remarkable turn of events during the same civil rights movement that had exposed many of the country’s shortcomings about race relations.

Juneteenth remains a celebratory occasion to meet with family members and meet new friends.

If you would like to read more on the holiday, you can locate it here:


Started in 2001, Shakespeare in the Arb is a different kind of production. There is no fixed stage; the audience move with the actors as they plot unfolds in places around the Nichols Arboretum. According to information on the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum and the Literature Science and the Arts (LSA) website, the festival started when Drama professor Kate Mendeloff was asked to direct an outdoor production as part of a three-year Ford Motor Company grant for Arts in the Arboretum.

I enjoy the performances; the outdoor setting of Nichols Arboretum, the fact that the play moves, the costuming and language of the play (I am an avid Shakespeare fan), all make for an interesting and enjoyable presentation. The initial play was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a tale of fairies who wreak havoc on the hearts of a group of lovers deep inside a forest and boasts a variety of actors, from students and faculty to community members.
For fellow lovers of Shakespeare, the 2018 production will be Romeo and Juliet. For more information you can obtain more information below: