Detroit, MI — April 14, 2020
The annual Freep Film Festival postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic will go on as scheduled but in a virtual setting.
While the Freep Film Festival won’t be hosting a physical event at the end of April, it will be presenting a curated slate of documentary films and conversations during its originally scheduled festival dates. Twelve films that would have played in theaters at the festival — planned for April 22-26 will instead receive free screenings on freep.com during those same dates. As previously announced, a rescheduled physical version of the festival is being planned for the first week of December.
The films playing the virtual event in April are typical of the programming the festival has presented over its seven years: A mix of nationally and locally produced documentaries, many of them with strong Detroit or Michigan connections. There will be a mix of feature-length films and shorts, with most of the lineup not having previously screened in metro Detroit.
“This is a great batch of documentaries, and we’re really excited to be able to share them for at-home viewing — particularly considering the unusual circumstances,” said Steve Byrne, the festival’s executive director. “We really appreciate the filmmakers making them available to our audiences.”
There will be a video panel discussion following each program, with participants including film directors, film subjects, Free Press journalists and other experts. Several of the post-film programs are being executed by Wayne State University students who are enrolled in a class being taught by nationally known documentary filmmaker Judith Helfand, who is this year’s endowed Bob Allesee Visiting Professorship in the Department of Communication at WSU.
Each program will feature a presenting partner. Venues that would have been part of the physical festival — including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the War Memorial and Cinema Detroit — will help get the word out about the screenings.
All of the screenings will be free of charge, but available only at their designated times. Direct links to watch the films will be available in the coming days on freep.com, freepfilmfestival.com and the festival’s social media.
The virtual festival’s lineup follows:
1 p.m. PALLIATIVE + TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY
These two shorts put their lens on health caregivers. “Palliative” tells the story of a Detroit-based doctor doing extraordinary work with children with special needs. “Today Was a Good Day” focuses on several Detroiters who are helping family members suffering from dementia.
1 p.m. PERSONAL STATEMENT
The film follows three Brooklyn high-school seniors as they try to get themselves — and their entire graduating class — into college.
1 p.m. ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN
This Oscar-nominated documentary short profiles Bruce Franks Jr., a 34-year-old battle rapper, leading Ferguson activist and state representative from St. Louis, who is known as Superman to his constituents
7:30 p.m.: SHELBY AMERICAN
Matt Damon played Carroll Shelby in the Oscar-nominated film “Ford v Ferrari,” but now here’s the full story of the trailblazing, automotive visionary behind the Ford GT40.
4 p.m. BERZERKERS + PIE IN THE PUSS
Two arts-themed shorts comprise this program. “Berzerkers” explore Chef James Rigato’s relationship with the band that inspired his lauded Hazel Park restaurant, Mabel Gray. In “Pie in the Puss,” metro Detroit native Stacey Davis explores the evolution of pie-ing in film — from pies in the face to pie tosses to pie fights.
7:30 p.m. MAKING A MARK (Kresge Arts in Detroit film) + MARIE WOO, 2020 EMINENT ARTIST
Meet some of metro Detroit’s top working artists in this documentary profiling the 2019 class of Kresge Arts in Detroit fellows. Accompanied by a short film on recently announced Kresge Eminent Artist Marie Woo.
3 p.m. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ROSIE THE RIVETER + THE GIRL WITH THE RIVET GUN
It’s a 40th-anniversary screening for this documentary, which introduced viewers to five women who took stereotypical men’s jobs during World War II, giving rise to the cultural icon of the film’s title — the archetypal woman whose labor kept America moving while a generation of men were fighting in Europe and the Pacific. The feature-length doc is being paired with a new animated short, “The Girl with the Rivet Gun,” which is based on the real-life adventures of three Rosie the Riveters.
7 p.m. THROUGH THE FLAK: WAR STORIES OF THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN
Detroiters Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson and Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart, both in their 90s and two of the last living Tuskegee Airmen, recount their pulse-pounding and often heartbreaking experiences as the first African-American military pilots who not only fought a World War, but fought for the right to fight for their country.
About the Freep Film Festival
The Freep Film Festival is a documentary-focused festival produced by the Detroit Free Press, which is Michigan’s largest news organization, in cooperation with its business arm, Michigan.com. The festival is centered in downtown Detroit but also holds events at suburban locations. The festival’s focus is on documentaries with strong connections to Detroit or Michigan – though it also books great films without specific local ties. In addition to screening films, the Freep Film Festival presents parties, live podcasts, music and educational experiences for the filmmaking community. It also embraces the journalistic mission of the Detroit Free Press, hosting in-depth, issue-based conversations after many of its films.