12 Detroit Films To See At the FREEP Film Festival


12 Detroit Films To See At the FREEP Film Festival

The FREEP Film Festival is April 10-14 and will feature 75 events at 10 venues across metro Detroit. There are a lot of great documentaries to see – here are the ones that are about the D.

‘Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine’ // Wednesday, April 10 @ The Fillmore – 7:00 pm
Capturing the messy upheaval of the ’70s just as rock was re-inventing itself, Scott Crawford’s film explores Creem magazine’s humble beginnings in post-riot Detroit and follows its upward trajectory from underground paper to national powerhouse. Michigan premiere.


‘Detroit Tigers: The Roar of ’84’ // Thursday, April 11 @ Beacon Park – 6:00 pm
In time for the 35th anniversary of the Detroit Tigers historic 1984 season, “Detroit Tigers: The Roar of ’84” offers an entertaining and informative retrospective on the team and season that we’ll never forget.

Double feature: ‘The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant’ / ‘Poletown Lives!’ // Friday, April 12 @ DeRoy Auditorium WSU – 5:00 pm
These two classic documentaries are paired in a program that explores the community impacts when an auto plant arrives – and when it leaves. The award-wining 1983 film “Poletown Lives!” looks at the controversial bulldozing of the Detroit neighborhood to make room for a General Motors plant, while “The Last Truck” (2009) details the shuttering of a GM factory in Ohio.

‘Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary’ // Friday, April 12 @ DIA – 5:30 pm
“Freaks and Geeks” casts a long shadow for a show that only ran for a single season. In time for its 20th anniversary, the beloved Michigan-set high-school dramedy that introduced Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini gets a fitting tribute that will tug the heartstrings of the series’ devoted cult. Brent Hodge’s affectionate portrait, originally broadcast via A&E’s “Cultureshock” series, features interviews with the show’s stars and creators, including metro Detroit native Paul Feig, and argues for the enduring significance of “Freaks and Geeks” in a TV landscape it helped shape.


‘The Rest I Make Up’ // Friday, April 12 @ Detroit Historical Museum 6:00 pm
Maria Irene Fornes is among America’s greatest unknown playwrights. When she stops writing due to dementia, a friendship with filmmaker (and Detroit native) Michelle Memran reignites her visionary creative spirit, triggering a film collaboration that picks up where the pen left off.


‘Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story’// Friday, April 12 @ Emagine Royal Oak 7:00 pm
Geordie Day’s film adds heartbreaking complexity to the Red Wings enforcer and all-time penalty leader, who died in 2010 of heart failure. Off the ice, Probert emerges as a kind, flawed soul who loved his wife and kids while battling the demons of addiction and neurodegenerative disease.


‘An Armenian Trilogy’ //Saturday, April 13 @ Emagine Royal Oak – 12:30 pm 
Much of metro Detroit music composer Dan Yessian’s career was built upon his ability to create catchy commercial jingles – think Detroit TV classics like his tune for a Dittrich Furs advertisement. But his life takes a dramatic turn when Yessian is asked to write a classical composition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenian citizens were murdered by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1915. The film follows Yessian’s creative path and the piece’s triumphant debut by the Amenian National Philharmonic Orchestra in Yessian’s ancestral homeland of Armenia. World premiere.

‘Convergence’: Detroit Narrative Agency Shorts Showcase // Saturday, April 13 @ DeRoy Auditorium WSU – 1:00pm
Detroit Narrative Agency (DNA) incubates quality and compelling stories that shift the dominant narratives about Detroit towards liberation and justice, in collaboration with an ecosystem of community members, storytellers, media makers and organizers. DNA curated this Freep Film Festival-partnered program of short documentaries by Detroit area filmmakers, sharing seven glimpses into movement-forward, multi-dimensional stories about community, culture and legacy.

Double feature: ‘The Five Heartbeats’ / ‘Making the Five Heartbeats’ // Saturday, April 13 @ Redford Theatre – 1:00pm
In “Making the Five Heartbeats,” filmmaker Robert Townsend takes a well-deserved victory lap in revisiting his 1991 cult favorite “The Five Heartbeats,” a Motown-flavored musical drama about the rise and fall of an African-American vocal group in the 1960s. His behind-the-scenes documentary about his passion project chronicles the inspiring journey of a young black writer/director (Townsend) determined to present a new image of black people in cinema while endeavoring to create a classic. The original film and documentary will screen together with Townsend in attendance.

Double feature: ‘I Am Richard Pryor’ / ‘Blue Collar’// Saturday, April 13 @ Redford Theatre – 6:00 pm
A new documentary about Richard Pryor is paired with a classic Detroit-set film that co-starred the legendary comedian. “I Am Richard Pryor” examines the life of the mercurial actor-comic through interviews with Pryor‘s family, those who worked with him and the comedians he influenced.In the 1978 crime drama “Blue Collar,” Pryor plays one of three Detroit auto plant workers who decide to steal from the safe of their union local.

‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’// Sunday, April 14 @ Redford Theatre – 12:30 pm
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Motown Records, so there’s no better time to revisit this 2002 documentary about the crackerjack players who made up Motown’s house band during the Detroit label’s Hitsville heyday. The film tells their stories and puts players like Johnny Griffith, Richard (Pistol) Allen and Benny Benjamin in the spotlight as they play the tunes they helped make famous accompanied by modern-day stars.


‘Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win’ // Sunday, April 14 @ Detroit Film Theatre – 4:00pm
Detroit continued to burn long after the fires of the ’67 rebellion were extinguished. Black Detroiters continued to suffer the effects of economic disenfranchisement and fought to survive under the oppressive thumb of racist policing practices disguised as law enforcement, the most egregious of which was the Detroit Police Department’s brutal decoy unit S.T.R.E.S.S.: Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets. Ken Cockrel, a radical Marxist attorney, led a group of activists and community leaders to abolish the unit and restore justice. This is the story of a heroic struggle in a city that was far too willing to trample the rights of its black citizens. Michigan premiere.


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