Small Craft Big Screen: Handmade Nation


Handmade Nation is the definitive portrait of the indie craft movement. So we’ve chosen it to kick off our Big Screen, an irregular series of crafty films. On Saturday, June 8, we’ll screen Faythe Levine’s 2009 documentary feature at Detroit’s historic Trumbullplex Theater. We’ll include all the extras that make a day at the movies special: popcorn, cartoons, and discussion. But we won’t include a ticket price! This event is free to attend.

Crafty viewers will question some of Handmade Nation‘s omissions. (We wish the cameras would have visited Detroit!) But the film – and its companion book – include enough crafts, fairs, shops, personalities, ideas, and aesthetics to enlighten the curious and inspire the committed. Handmade Nation is not rated, but it does contain some adult material (most notably some pornographic photos rendered in latch hook), so parents should be aware that this is an exception to our usual family-friendly rule.

Four years have passed since Handmade Nation made its debut, a span that strikes our jangled twenty-first century sensibilities as both immense and irrelevant. It’s interesting to revisit the film, and discuss whether it reads as a time capsule from the bygone past, or a snapshot of the living present. When the film’s subjects question whether indie craft is a passing fad (“There’s only so many owls, and birds, and deer, and bunnies, and apples, and mushrooms, and things that people can have.”), today’s viewer can only respond with an uneasy chuckle.

 Photo: Sarah Shackleford

Photo: Sarah Shackleford

We’ll project Handmade Nation from a booth built in the 1980s by Woodbridge poet Mick Vranich. And we’ll view it in a space that’s been a center of independent creativity since the early 1970s. We hope this added historical context will enrich our understanding of the era depicted in the film.

Although it’s best known for live music, the Trumbullplex does feature movies from time to time. (Not to mention puppet shows, plays, poetry readings, and circuses!) Its projector and sound system can’t equal those of a modern multiplex, but there’s no better place to gather in the dark and share a cinematic experience. One of the all-time great moments of moviegoing magic occurred during a Trumbullplex screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated children’s fantasy Kiki’s Delivery Service, as an audience of punks and activists (plus one actual child), leaned forward in their seats, and breathlessly begged a cartoon witch to fly. Magical moments like this are unpredictable by nature, so we can’t promise that you’ll experience one at our Handmade Nation screening. But we can promise you that the Trumbullplex is a wonderful place to see a film.

Small Craft Big Screen
Handmade Nation 
Saturday, June 8
2:00 pm
Trumbullplex Theater
4210 Trumbull

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