Community rallies behind owner of Cinema Detroit with GoFundMe as she battles lupus


  • Courtesy of Cinema Detroit

It's curtains up for Cinema Detroit co-owner Paula Guthat, who is the subject of a recent crowdfunding effort to assist in paying some of her hospital bills following a dangerous lupus flare-up.

In just 24 hours, the metro Detroit community has donated more than $7,000 of a $10,000 goal to aid Guthat's recovery after a GoFundMe campaign was launched over the weekend.

“For years, Paula and her husband, Tim, have fought to keep Detroit's only truly independent cinema in business,” the campaign description reads. “With the onset of COVID last year, that fight turned into the challenge of a lifetime. Now she's facing an even bigger battle: lupus nephritis.”

The humble but mighty nonprofit Midtown theater, voted by Metro Times readers as the “best place to see an indie film,” is known for screening independent and foreign language films, as well as festivals such as the Trans Stellar Film Fest and the first incarnation of Detroit's popular Nicolas UnCaged festival.

Since the pandemic shut down Michigan last March, which forced indoor movie theaters to close for the majority of 2020, the theater has pivoted to hosting ticketed virtual screenings of new films, rentals of older releases, and contactless concessions. You can also rent Cinema Detroit's screening room for a private screening.

Last April, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and activist Ava DuVernay awarded Cinema Detroit a $10,000 grant through her Array Alliance foundation, as part of its inaugural $250,000 initiative to support arts organizations that serve and foster diverse and underrepresented film communities that also were struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Guthat, who owns the theater at 4126 Third St. with her husband, Tim, took to Facebook to thank those who have donated toward her recovery so far.

“I'd never have done it on my own,” Guthat said of the fundraising effort. “But they get that I have lupus, it's flaring badly, and I need help.”

“I know the fact that I even have a chronic autoimmune disease is a surprise to some/most of you,” she added. “The worst/best part of lupus is, even when it’s active on me, no one can tell. So it’s easy to hide, which I learned to do early on. Everything I’ve done since I was 19 years old has been in spite of lupus and I’ve always managed somehow.”

Guthat says lupus nephritis often has no “obvious symptoms” until it's too late and the damage is severe. The funds will aid in her effort to stabilize her disease and will cover the costs of specialists and tests, at what she calls “the worst possible time.”

To donate, see Guthat's GoFundMe here.

To learn more about upcoming virtual screenings at Cinema Detroit, visit

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