2019 Freep Film Festival Campus Screenings

Friday, April 12

The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant and Poletown Lives!  
5 p.m., DeRoy Auditorium 046

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 an General Motors factory in Ohio.  

Poletown Lives! runtime: 52 minutes 
The Last Truck runtime: 42 minutes 

American Factory
8 p.m., DeRoy Auditorium 046

In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring 2,000 blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America. Michigan premiere. 
*Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Saturday, April 13

Women Behind the Camera panel discussion
Noon, Welcome Center

Women have been making movies since the birth of the form, but in recent years there has been a push to recognize and uplift women in film while acknowledging the inequities they often face.

Convergence: Detroit Narrative Agency Shorts Showcase 
1 p.m., DeRoy Auditorium 0146

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. More info at alliedmedia.org/dna.

  • Origins: Kin: "In Ghana, family is everything" says asante as he pulls into his grandparents' house in Mampong, Ghana for the first time in 12 years. Origins: Kin follows Michigan-based musician asante's return to Ghana to reconnect with his relatives, and shares his choice to pursue music as a profession. Origins was created in tandem with asante's Afrobeat music release "sleek boy." Directed by Corey Johnson & asante.
  • Take Me Home: A home foreclosure crisis has gripped Detroit for over a decade. In this time, illegally inflated property taxes have caused more than 100,000 working families to lose their homes. The last time Americans experienced anything near this alarming rate of foreclosure was during the Great Depression. While headlines read of the so-called rebirth of Motor City, many Detroit neighborhoods have been devastated with African-American communities hit hardest of all. Take Me Home follows one family as they fight to save their home, and struggle to keep their neighborhoods and communities from being lost. Directed by Orlando Ford. Produced by John Sloan.
  • The Sinkhole: Explores the normalization of deportation and failing infrastructure, by contrasting a Michigan Chaldean man's experience in immigration detention, to the sudden appearance of a sinkhole in southeast Michigan. (Work-in-progress). Directed and Produced by Danya Abt. Produced by Zachary Halberd.
  • Sidelots: Is a love story of Black land reclamation told in ritual between Detroit, Alabama and Kenya. It follows one family on Detroit's East Side as their story of urban farming unfolds into a spiritual journey of discovery, loss and re-indigenization. By digging up familial and land roots across the diaspora, Sidelots illuminates all that is sacred in the land and encourages a radical reconsideration of how we view the earth immediately below our feet. Directed by Atieno Nyar Kasagam. Produced by Natasha Tamate Weiss.
  • Dangerous Times: Rebellious Responses: The Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s was a religious and political campaign — driven by over 500 congregations across 11 denominations in the United States — to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. Dangerous Times traces its rise in Detroit through the personal accounts of Esther Gálvez, a Latinx Sanctuary advocate, and Sihanouk Mariona, whose family was amongst the most visible Salvadorian exiles in the US. Directed by Alicia Diaz. Produced by Consuela López with Karen Cárdenas.
  • Sugar Law Saturday: For 25 years, the Sugar Law Center in Detroit has fought for the rights of low-income communities at no cost to their clients. Sugar Law Saturday explores the lives of the organization's dedicated attorneys and the impact of their groundbreaking cases. Directed by Kate Levy.
  • Lyricist Society: Looks at an alternative music program at Frederick Douglass High School in Detroit. Created by teacher Quan Neloms, the program aims to give students a creative voice and the ability to change the narrative of how their community is perceived. This short documentary won a 2018 Michigan Regional Emmy for Education. Directed by Jeremy Brockman.

Behind the Music Doc panel discussion

1:30 p.m., Welcome Center

This rock star group of documentary filmmakers will take you behind the scenes of their music docs, which tell the stories of rock gods and techno legends.

Navigating the Freedom of Information Act panel discussion

3 p.m., Welcome Center

This session will break down Michigan's Freedom of Information Law — what it allows, what it doesn't and how to navigate common obstacles in obtaining information from governments.

My Turn

4:30 p.m., DeRoy Auditorium 0146

Scott Matzka was in peak physical condition -- a member of the University of Michigan's 1998 NCAA champion hockey team and a 13-year professional player for teams like the Grand Rapids Griffins and Kalamazoo Wings. After receiving a devastating ALS diagnosis at the age of 36, Scott grapples with plans for the remainder of his life while relentlessly advocating to find a cure for the terminal disease.
*Runtime: 1 hour

Minding the Gap

5:30 p.m., Welcome Center

Minding the Gap returns for an encore Freep Film Festival screening after an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. Three young men bond through their love of skateboarding, while escaping volatile family lives in their Rust Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.
*Runtime: 93 minutes

 When Arabs Danced

7:30 p.m. Sat., DeRoy Auditorium 0146

Filmmaker Jawad Rhalib uses dance as a lens to document diverse creative voices in the Muslim world and explore complex contradictions and conflicts that define Arab life in the 21st Century, as a new generation seeks to free itself from bonds of stereotypes and repression.
*Runtime: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Sunday, April 14

Live From Detroit: Shorts Program 2

Noon, Community Arts Auditorium

  • Little Julio: A Detroit boxing coach challenges his young students to draw strength and discipline from their training. 6 minutes.
  • Con Security: At Youmacon, Detroit's signature anime convention, security comes in the form of a kung-fu justice squad. 35 minutes.
  • Tee Grizzley — Off Parole: Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley balances a skyrocketing career with legal restrictions on his movement and schedule. 15 minutes.
  • Soul Skate: Every year roller skaters from around the world descend on Detroit for Soul Skate weekend, showing off styles from their own hometowns and reconnecting with their greater skating family. 16 minutes.
  • Finding Happiness Detroit: Three Detroiters defy a study denouncing Detroit as the unhappiest city in America by expressing what brings them joy. 5 minutes.
  • Bless You, Boys: Freep videographer Brian Kaufman digs into the paper's archives to rediscover one of the most glorious moments in the city's sports history through the eyes of reporter Bill McGraw and photographer Mary Schroeder, who covered the Tigers' most recent World Series championship. 12 minutes.

*Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Behind the Curve

1 p.m. Sun., DeRoy Auditorium 0146

The phrase "Flat Earthers" might bring to mind tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists who are seriously out of touch with reality. But Behind the Curve introduces us to real Flat Earthers, a small but growing contingent of people who firmly believe in a conspiracy to suppress the truth that the Earth is flat. A vice.com story about the film said it "makes a case for empathy instead of ridicule."
*Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers

3 p.m., Community Arts Auditorium

Area 51 wasn't on the map until Bob Lazar put it there. The former government physicist went public in 1989 with his account of alien spacecraft at the top-secret Air Force test facility in the Nevada desert. Lazar, who now runs a business in Michigan, went silent for three decades until filmmaker Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell tracked him down.
*Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Mixtape America: Vol. 2: Shorts Program 5

3:30 p.m., DeRoy Auditorium, 0146

Citizens of different backgrounds reckon with the national zeitgeist in this collective snapshot of place and time, the second of a two-part program.

  • Generation One: Palestinian-American Hamoody decides to leave his tight-knit Arab community and pursue his independence, mirroring the experience of others who have taken the leap. 16 minutes.
  • Destination Park: Deep within Trump's America, a camp of destitute truck drivers confide their anxieties, frustrations, hopes and fears to the chaplain of a Midwest mobile chapel. 8 minutes.
  • Mrs. Saltzman Goes to Jail: 81-year-old Delores Saltzman of Lake George recounts the night she was arrested for smoking marijuana in her home. 5 minutes.
  • Hey Little Black Girl: Through her imagination, a young black girl propels herself into a new dimension with old echoes of the little black girls who came before her. 12 minutes.
  • A Park for Detroit: In this experimental meditation on the city's past, present and future, Detroit filmmaker Nicole Macdonald uses news footage and surveillance tapes from motion sensor cameras to meditate on the legacy of Belle Isle's abandoned. 27 minutes.

*Runtime: 1 hour, 8 minutes