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Grand Valley grad premieres film in Michigan

  • A scene from "Buzzard," a film written and directed by Grand Valley film and video alumnus Joel Potrykus.
  • Joel Potrykus

Posted on June 06, 2014

“Buzzard,” a new film from Grand Valley film and video alumnus Joel Potrykus, `99, will make its Michigan premiere at the Cinetopia International Film Festival June 6-7 in Ann Arbor and Detroit. 

The film premiered at SXSW 2014, and has played at the New Director and New Film festivals at the Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art in New York. It has also been screened at film festivals in Maryland, Sarasota, Nashville, St.Paul/Minneapolis and Louisiana, among others.

Potrykus said the film follows a character named Marty who tries to cheat corporate America — a storyline inspired by temp jobs Potrykus has had in the past. 

The film took Potrykus about three months to write, and about eight months to rehearse with Josh Burge, the lead actor, and producers. Filming took about a month. Potrykus describes the crew as a “film band.”

“I play director/writer, Josh Burge plays lead actor, and Mike Saunders, Ashley Young, Kevin Clancy, and Tim Saunders play the producers and crew,” Potrykus said. “We are friends, not so much business partners. We just crank out good art together.”

Potrykus has been a working filmmaker for about two years. “Before that, I still had to work a day job,” he said. 

Other films Potrykus has made have been highly regarded. His last film, “Ape,” won Potrykus Best New Director at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, which is one of the longest-running film festivals in the world. 

“We’re stoked to bring ‘Buzzard’ to Cinetopia this weekend, because they absolutely respect the filmmakers and have great taste,” Potrykus said. “Some of ‘Buzzard’ was shot in Detroit, so it’ll be good to premiere it on that side of the state. It’s a good vibe over there. They get it.”

To buy tickets for showings in Ann Arbor or Detroit, visit

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