Motor City Cinema Society Announces New Program for the Spring and Summer

Detroit’s all-film theater is celebrating the centennial of 16 mm film with an exciting lineup this spring and summer.
Stock photograph by Denise Jans via

This summer, Motor City Cinema Society celebrates the 100th anniversary of 16-millimeter film with a spring/summer season lineup that is stacked with rare 16mm films, giving audiences an exclusive and entertaining glimpse into the film gauge’s rich history.

The nonprofit organization will host the showing of five 16mm films in a variety of genres, spanning over 50 years of the film gauge’s usage. The project’s founders — local film collectors and educators Darian Berro, Kevin Maher, John Monaghan, and Nicholas S. Pobusty — hope to “resurrect this kind of film culture in Detroit by offering movies as they were meant to be seen,” Maher said in a press release.

Created in 1923, 16mm film provided a smaller and less expensive alternative to 35mm film, while retaining high-quality visuals and sound. Feature films and shorts printed on 16mm were first locally adopted in the 1960s by collectors, libraries, and college film societies, flourishing in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing through the ‘80s.

Though modern technological advancements have rendered mainstream 16mm films near obsolete, the then-innovative gauge is still adored by many film buffs for its retro-looking grain effect, adding a touch of vintage character to the big screen.

Motor City Cinema will kick off the program on May 22 at 7 p.m. with a showing of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, continuing its run through August 24. Showings will additionally feature short subjects and trailers, along with introductions and insights from the Cinema Society’s founders.

All shows are held in the Redford Theatre Annex at 17352 Lahser Road, Detroit at 7 p.m., with doors open and pre-show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 individually or $20 for a season pass.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Steven Spielberg’s fan-favorite archaeologist returns in this adventure prequel to 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Harrison Ford’s beloved character partners with a young orphan, portrayed by recent Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, for an action-packed journey that established the PG-13 film rating due to its controversial violence and villains. May 22. $5;

On the Waterfront (1954)

This Best Picture-winner, directed by Elia Kazan, stars Golden Age royalty Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy, a former-boxer-turned-dockworker grappling with the guilt of being an unwilling accomplice to mob murder. Softened by a romance between Malloy and Edie Doyle, portrayed by Eva Marie Saint in her first cinematic role, the crime-loaded, high-drama story garnered eight Academy Awards for the film. June 5. $5;

Gimme Shelter (1970)

This behind-the-scenes documentary captures The Rolling Stones on the last leg of the band’s 1969 US tour, which culminated in the chaos of the Altamont Speedway free concert that caused numerous injuries and one fatality. Directed by the Maysles Brothers, this counterculture-era documentary capturing the thrills and dangers of rock-and-roll is a must-watch for Stones fans and ‘60s music junkies. July 24. $5;

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Rochester Hills-native Madonna stars as a fashion-forward city grifter opposite Rosanna Arquette’s conventional suburban housewife in this colorful cult classic. This dramedy, directed by Susan Seidelman, was Madonna’s first major film role, though her free-spirited character was not a far cry from her real-life cool-girl persona. July 27. $5;

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

For horror fans who begin celebrating Halloween as soon as they feel a slight chill in the air, this end-of-summer showing directed by Rouben Mamoulian is the perfect way to ring in the fall season. Adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 classic tale, this film follows a Victorian-era doctor as he tests a new formula meant to unleash the evil in men, discovering its successful, yet terrifying, effects. August 24. $5;

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