Visiting Film Artists Series with Amy Heckerling

Amy Heckerling, second from the left, on the set of Clueless.

by Kerri VanderHoff

The filmmaker behind the generation-defining teen comedy hits Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and other comedy classics like Look Who’s Talking and Johnny Dangerously is scheduled for a stop in West Michigan this month. Award-winning writer/director Amy Heckerling is the special guest this year for the West Michigan Film Video Alliance (WMFVA) 2016 Visiting Film Artist Series, held at Celebration! Cinema North.

The two-day event features a Friday night screening of the iconic favorite Clueless, a film loosely based on the novel Emma by Jane Austen, followed by a Q&A session. A meet and greet reception with the artist rounds out the evening. Saturday’s activities include a luncheon with Ms. Heckerling followed by a two-hour workshop in the Wave Room at the cinema location. Tickets for each day are sold separately, so attendees can choose between the two or participate in both.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Grand Rapids and sharing a little behind-the-scenes info about Clueless,” Heckerling said. “The Saturday workshop is nice too; there’s more time to expand on the film discussion, including the many ups and downs of working in the industry.”

She brings a unique perspective to the filmmaking process in many ways, including her gender; less than 7 percent of major motion pictures are directed by women each year. Her talent and tenacity has served her well, and she has also helped launch the early careers of many actors, such as Sean Penn, Alicia Silverstone and Forest Whitaker.

“Amy Heckerling has made a significant mark in the film industry, creating films with humor and heart that stand the test of time,” said WMFVA Chair Deb Havens, noting that the series offers a professional development opportunity for area creatives. “She has successfully navigated a notoriously difficult industry and the knowledge and experience she can share with the WMFVA members and others in our community is extremely relevant to today’s challenges.”

There’s plenty of related programming leading up to the event too, and it’s free and open to the public. Join in a casual film discussion at the GoSite at GRAM, show off your Fast Times and Clueless knowledge at 80s vs. 90s trivia night at Parsley’s restaurant downtown, or attend a lecture on teen comedy and gender perspective at GVSU. More information, schedule details, and
ticket information can be found at

What: Visiting Film Artist Series
Where: Celebration! Cinema North, 2121 Celebration Dr. NE
When: September 9 (7–10 p.m. Clueless screening, Q&A, reception) and September 10 (11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. artist luncheon and workshop)
Cost: $15 film screening + reception; $85 luncheon + workshop. Tickets at


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