ArtPrize On-Screen, presented by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office and produced by Celebration! Cinema, is back for another year with 10 new narrative, documentary, and short films. Celebration! Cinema will bring screenings of new and independent cinema, each to be preceded by a Michigan-made short film curated by the UICA’s Open Projector Night Series. Open to all, programming will run from September 21–24 at the historic Ladies’ Literary Club located at 61 Sheldon Blvd SE, next door to the ArtPrize HUB/HQ.

Film Screenings

Wednesday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Kicking off the 2016 ArtPrize On-Screen lineup is the highly anticipated "The Birth of a Nation"—winner of the Audience Award: US Dramatic and the US Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Set against the Antebellum South, "The Birth of a Nation" follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities against himself and his fellow slaves, Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

"When I touched down in Park City last January for the Sundance Film Festival, there was no film with more buzz than 'The Birth of a Nation'. It received a standing ovation from its opening night audience and a record high purchasing price from Fox Searchlight for its distribution rights. But this film is more than just an indie flavor of the month. This powerful story about one of our country’s most critical moments comes at a time when our country is faced with increasingly significant questions around race, justice and equality. I’m so grateful our friends at Partners for Racism Free Communities will be present to host a post film discussion. There is much to be considered with this film, which makes it the perfect fit to open our festival." -- Eric Kuiper, Celebration! Cinema

Check out the trailer below for a sneak peek of the film.

"The Birth of a Nation" will be preceded by Michigan-made short film, "80 to 90 Feet." In this film, Great Lakes fishermen discuss noticeable changes in the lake’s ecosystem due to warming waters.

Thursday, September 22 at 7:30 p.m.

On September 22 at 7:30 p.m., catch "The Fits," a transformative portrait of adolescence, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016. In this film, 11-year-old tomboy Toni is bewitched by the tight-knit dance team she sees practicing in the same Cincinnati gymnasium where she boxes. Enamored by the power and confidence of the strong community of girls, Toni spends less and less time boxing with her older brother, and instead eagerly absorbs the dance routines and masters drills from a distance, and even pierces her own ears in an effort to fit in. But when a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team, Toni’s desire for acceptance becomes more complicated.

"To describe an indie film as a “coming of age story” almost feels redundant. So often indie filmmakers look to the fertile storytelling ground of young adolescents when writing their scripts. They can be inexpensive to make, and for young filmmakers, the source material of their own lives offers them little else. But, with 'The Fits', Anna Rose Holmer is able truly do something that feels new and unexpected. Capturing a wonderful performance from her lead, Royalty Hightower, Holmer’s film grabbed me early and wouldn’t let go. She is somehow able to create something that feels simple and layered at the same time. Loved by audiences at Sundance this year, I’m confident the same will be true in Grand Rapids. We’re so pleased to be working with Mosaic Film Experience to not only screen the film Thursday night, but also screen Friday morning for capacity crowd of students from Grand Rapids Public High Schools." -- Eric Kuiper, Celebration! Cinema

Watch a preview of "The Fits" below.

Paired with "The Fits" will be the Michigan-made short film, "Monster, Me," which shows a young girl who is mysteriously transformed into something she will learn to love—if it doesn’t kill her first.

Friday September 23 at 6:30 p.m.

Friday will bring an exciting double-feature starting at 6:30 p.m. with "Author: The JT LeRoy Story." On January 9, 2006, the New York Times sent shockwaves through the literary world when it unmasked “it boy” wunderkind JT LeRoy, who had captivated icons and luminaries internationally. It turned out LeRoy didn’t actually exist. He was the creative expression of 40-year-old Laura Albert, a former phone-sex operator-turned-housewife. Her extended and layered JT LeRoy performance still infuriates many; but according to Albert, channeling her brilliant fiction through another identity was the only possible path to self-expression. The film recently had its premiere as a part of Sundance Film Festival’s 2016 U.S. Doc competition.

"In my opinion, no festival program is complete without a documentary film. As a genre, docs are increasingly fascinating as they push our concepts of fiction and nonfiction. 'Author: The JT Leroy Story' does just that. A jaw-dropping story that begs its viewers to wrestle with their concepts of authorship and what the limits of the unspoken social contract are between artists and those who engage their art. Fittingly, the great people of Kent District Library will be present to lead a post-film conversation on the role of authorship. I can’t wait." -- Eric Kuiper, Celebration! Cinema

Watch the trailer below.

This feature film will be preceded by a Marcus Lawson film, "Beloved". 

Friday September 23 at 10 p.m.

"The Alchemist Cookbook"—produced and shot in Michigan by Grand Rapids-native Joel Potrykus, and a breakout sensation at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival—will debut at ArtPrize for its Grand Rapids premiere. The story revolves around a young outcast named Sean who has isolated himself in a trailer in the woods, setting out on alchemic pursuits, with his cat Kaspar as his sole companion. Filled with disdain for authority, he’s fled the daily grind and holed up in the wilderness, escaping a society that has no place for him. But when he turns from chemistry to black magic to crack nature’s secret, things go awry and he awakens something far more sinister and dangerous.

"Last year I was driving while listening to Indiewire’s weekly podcast, Screen Talk, when Eric Kohn, their chief film critic, listed Buzzard in his top indie films of the previous year. I let out an audible “Woot!” in my car. Grand Rapids’ own Joel Potrykus getting that kind of recognition is just plain wonderful and well deserved. When I heard his next film, 'The Alchemist Cookbook', was premiering at SXSW this past March and would be available for ArtPrize on Screen, it was no brainer to include it in our program. Get ready for crazy little ride with this one. Joel knows how to get a lot of impact out of a tiny budget." -- Eric Kuiper, Celebration! Cinema

Check out a teaser of the film below.

This screening will be preceded by the short film, "Free Pie," a dark comedy about loss in live action.

Saturday, September 24 at 8 p.m.

Wrapping up the 2016 edition of ArtPrize On-Screen will be "Camp Manna"—a stylistic throwback to 80s summer camp films, which was produced and shot in Michigan. "Camp Manna" is the story of a Christian camp turned inside-out by newly arrived camper, Ian Fletcher. The only problem is Ian wants nothing to do with this camp or Christianity. But his resistance to faith be danged, an all-out battle is on between two counselors to save his soul, and establish camp dominance.

"When Eric Michaela and Eric Scott Johnson first told me they had landed Gary Busey to play the role of their crazed camp director in 'Camp Manna', I was laughing already. Indie films excel when they bring up all the things you’re not supposed to talk about at dinner parties. This playful romp through the quirky world of Christian summer camps hits that mark like archer. Filmed in Michigan, with loads of local talent on both sides of the cameral, I couldn’t be more excited to close our mini-fest with another film coming out of Grand Rapids. Our special sneak preview of the film promises to be a hilarious night." -- Eric Kuiper, Celebration! Cinema

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the film below.

The screening will be preceded by the story of "Croissant Man," a depressed croissant trying to find meaning in the superficial world of bourgeois pastries.

ArtPrize On-Screen Public Vote Prizes

While all ArtPrize On-Screen films are eligible for the ArtPrize Eight public vote competition in the time-based category, the ArtPrize public will also award two cash prizes: the ArtPrize On-Screen Public Vote Prizes. By casting their votes through the ArtPrize mobile app, visitors and film goers will award a $5,000 prize for Best Michigan-Made Short Film, presented by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, as well as a $2,500 prize for Best Feature Film, presented by Celebration! Cinema.

Want to Volunteer?

If you'd like to volunteer to usher at ArtPrize On-Screen, visit here or contact the volunteer team directly at

Reserve Your Tickets

Reserve tickets for any of the above screenings at Please note that although tickets are free, they are not simply passes good for admission to these screenings. While these events are general admission, each ticket represents a “reserved” seat in the auditorium. We expect a high demand for tickets and appreciate your commitment to using all tickets requested.

Don’t Have a Ticket? “Rush” the Film. Rush Lines will form outside the venue 45 minutes before showtime. 15 minutes prior to showtime, any unfilled seats will be released to the Rush Line.

By Lisa Levandoski on