The Film Lab.

Photo Courtesy of The Film Lab.

Microbar Meets Microcinema at the New Film Lab in Hamtramck


World cinema, a microbar, two theaters, pop-up cinema events and much more are coming to Hamtramck courtesy of The Film Lab.

Renovations of a former Hamtramck veterans hall are well underway as co-founders Lara Sfire and Josh Gardner look to bring the microcinema trend to Metro Detroit. The idea is to show great foreign cinema or little seen gems in an intimate setting and then have people discuss those films in the bar and social area downstairs.

The Film Lab is completely renovating the upstairs portion of the Hamtramck building, which will have a 100-seat dine-in theater and an additional 30-40 seat theater when it’s complete. The theater will host plenty of microcinema events downstairs in the bar are beginning this October, with the upstairs expecting to be done in around a year and a half. 

Gardner is the founder and president of Cinema Lamont, a non-profit pop-up cinema that showcases a wide-range of world cinema at various venues across Metro Detroit. Sfire is a filmmaker who grew up in Grosse Pointe and graduated from New York University with a masters in film.

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The two met when they received grants from the Knight Foundation and the Michigan Council of Arts in 2017 and Sfire suggested opening a brick and mortar as a permanent place where they can showcase important and under-seen films. The building in Hamtramck was built in 1925 and is perfect for their needs; big enough to screen films, but with an intimacy that can’t be found at most theaters.

Film Lab Exterior

Photo Courtesy of The Film Lab.

Sfire and Gardner’s goal is to create a space that encourages people to meet-up in a social environment and collaborate to create something new. They believe showing these movies in this atmosphere can add to Detroit’s DIY artistic feeling.

“We want a social way of screening films. Josh and I fundamentally believe in the power of different communities coming together through film and it’s a way to create empathy by showing a different perspective,” Sfire said. 

Both Sfire and Gardner see a power in showing foreign films to the Detroit community. While these films take place in different countries, they’re still able to get across powerful messages and themes that can be universal.

“I love the idea of foreign films; it shows other cultures in today’s day and age and how similar we are even if there is a language barrier. It’s a fun and entertaining way to get that point across,” Sfire said.

The microcinema is also planning on showing fun cult and horror films throughout its programming. Sfire added that their menus will change at certain events to match the theme of the movies being shown any given night.

There are sure to be a lot of exciting events and announcements coming from The Film Lab as it debuts next month. To stay up to date on everything going on be sure to follow the microcinema on Facebook and on their website.

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