Eugene Applebaum and the Applebaum Family has long believed in ensuring Detroit’s vitality with the following close in mind: the strength of the collective comes from the chorus of each individual voice. Taking this further, helping a young person find their individual voice can bring a lifetime of harmony.
When Pamela Applebaum recently came across a call out for Cinetopia in a local newspaper, her interest was piqued. The program, an annual Detroit curated festival features more than 50 best feature films from the world’s best festivals, over 10 days consecutive days, sounded intriguing. At its heart, Cinetopia in partnership with Michigan Theatre honors the rich heritage of cinematic culture and Michigan’s proud legacy of outstanding cinema artists.
One of the program hallmarks, the Detroit Voices film competition celebrates the strongest Michigan storytellers, providing the opportunity to 12 very best filmmakers to feature their works. It was this concept – Detroit Voices – that resonated most with Pamela Applebaum, heeding to the central theme of her family’s philanthropy: nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit and investing in talented young voices. Now supporting the program for the last two years, Detroit Voices provides the opportunity to maximize individual creative potential and ultimately strengthening the overall cultural arts in the city.
The 2019 Detroit Voices competition generated 65 outstanding creative submissions, making the selection of 12 finalists arduous. Numerous topics spanning genre, time, and identity were address in the finalist’s submissions from the Belle Isle Zoo, life in small town Michigan to four black trans women navigating life in Detroit and neurofibromatosis.
Applebaum Family Philanthropy had the opportunity to meet the finalists at an informal luncheon in April 2019. The center of discussion was their participation in a workshop with notable local independent filmmaker, Ben Friedman. The workshop provided a round table discussion about sustainability and challenges that filmmakers face in being economically self-sufficient. Dialogue included discussion on maintaining business relationships, networking, acquiring and securing funding, financial management and business acumen. It was a great to hear the candor in what the filmmakers had learned from the workshop. The luncheon also fostered interesting dialogue, including the release of films in this generation with the availability of major streaming options and their favoritism versus theatrical rollout.
Detroit Voices Filmmaker Gathering with Ben Friedman, local Independent Filmmaker and Producer
Photo: Detroit Voices finalists gather at a luncheon with Applebaum Family Philanthropy at Ottava Via.
The centerpiece of the Detroit Voice was the opportunity for these talented directors to share their talents with a larger audience. This came in the form of a screening on May 16 at the Senate Theater, the historic movie theatre on Michigan Avenue (and home to the Detroit Theater Organ Society and original Wurlitzer organ).
Ultimately, Detroit Voices is about inspiring these young filmmakers to aspire for a greater future. Supporting these individual voices, no doubt strengthens the entire community choir.
We congratulate the Detroit Voices 2019 Awardees:
- Award for Best Narrative Film: Femme Queen Chronicles directed by Ahya Simone
- Award for Best Documentary Film: Walking for Ded directed by Scott Boehm
- Barb & Jeff Duncan Award: Sidelots directed by Atieno Nyar Kasagam
- Audience Award: Knock, Knock directed by Kennikki Jones-Jones
Awardees received monetary awards ranging from $500-$2000.
Images courtesy of Detroit Voices, Cinetopia Film Festival and Luis G./METROTIMES Det.
Learn more about Detroit Voices and Cinetopia, Michigan Theater: