REO Town’s Threadbare Mitten Film Festival goes virtual


Threadbare Mitten Film Festival

Sept. 3 - 7 

Full schedule and lineup:

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Threadbare Mitten Film Festival founder Dan Kofoed Kofoed has adjusted to volatile times in order to keep his indie film festival alive. Falling victim to the coronavirus, the festival will be held entirely online. It’s a drastic change, which gives way to the subtitle of the festival’s fourth year: “A Year of TransFOURmations.” 

To successfully host the festival online, Kofoed tracked down a Holland-based company that could provide an online space to host the festival that meets industry standards. “We wanted to stay local, so it was perfect that we found a company from Michigan that could do that for us,” Kofoed said.

Anyone can buy an all-access pass or a limited ticket that will allow you to name your own price and pick five programs to stream on-demand over the weekend at your convenience. After that, all you have to do is sit back and stream the films from the comfort of your home. “This is just the nature of what we have to do right now,” Kofoed said. While he acknowledged it may not compare to the movie theater experience, there’s simply no other way he could have possibly held the festival this year. 

There are 80 movies showing at the festival from Michigan and around the world. A judging panel led by Kofoed combed through a few hundred submissions to decide which films should make the cut. 

“We’re looking at the quality of the films,” Kofoed said. “But we’re also looking at films that are similar that we can program together.” Threadbare is divided into themed programs, such as horror, comedy, documentaries and short films. The festival organizers carefully curate each program to create the perfect film fest experience. 

“Someone told me that it sounds like we’re putting together the tracks of an album,” Kofoed said. “Every film in a program is a step in telling a larger story. The advantage of that is, as an audience member, you know what you’re going to get.”

That way, he explained, if you buy a ticket for a certain program, you won’t be unpleasantly surprised. There won’t be a horror movie popping up in the middle of your comedy program, or an adult drama popping up in the middle of the kids’ program. 

Kofoed said that he’s not excited about one certain film at the festival; he’s excited for them all. Otherwise, he said, he wouldn’t have included them in the first place. 

One of the films playing this year at Threadbare is Michael Fausti’s “Exit,” a debut feature film from the United Kingdom. Kofoed described it as a psychosexual horror film with slight political, Brexit-inspired undertones. “It’s very visually rich,” he said. “That one is a lot of fun.”

Also showing at the fest are three feature-length, Michigan-made documentaries. “One of them is this one about rock and roll van culture from the ’70s,” Kofoed said, emphasizing that the film has a great throwback soundtrack. 

“Another one is about the sport of synchronized ice skating,” Kofoed said. “It’s a really inspiring and beautiful film.” When Kofoed talks about the films playing at the festival, he was unceasingly enthusiastic. His passion for film — especially locally produced, DIY films — is immediately apparent. 

While Threadbare was lucky enough to find a home online, Kofoed acknowledged that the state of the film industry is fairly bleak right now. Barely any theaters are open, films are being postponed and festivals are being canceled. Ann Arbor Film Fest went online, the Detroit Trinity Film Festival went online. “Other than that,” Kofoed said, “There hasn’t been anything available for Michigan filmmakers and fans of independent cinema.”

Kofoed said that the coronavirus has had a widespread effect on the film industry and a nation of moviegoers. What’s the point of summertime if you can’t go sit in a dark, air-conditioned room and watch a nice movie on the big screen? “There’s a pent-up demand for this stuff right now,” Kofoed said.

The last movie Kofoed saw in theaters was Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Uncut Gems,” a film about a reckless, relentless gambler who can’t stop getting himself in trouble. Just like “Uncut Gems,” 2020 has been anxiety-inducing and chock full of unexpected twists and turns of events.

Now, with the virtual edition of Threadbare Mitten Film Festival, he hopes to satiate cinephiles who long for the days of going to the cinema. Watching movies on a TV or computer may not be ideal, but that’s just the way it is. To stay safe, we have to stay inside. 

Or, as Kofoed put it: “No crowds, no death plague.”



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