Detroit’s Freep Film Festival goes digital amid coronavirus outbreak

Virtual events to be hosted from April 22-26

A red film reel (WDIV)

DETROIT – Detroit’s 7th annual Freep Film Festival was postponed last month due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Related: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s where we stand today

Festival organizers announced Tuesday that twelve films that would have played at the festival in April will be screened online instead on the same dates. The physical festival is rescheduled to take place in December.

Guests can watch the festival’s virtual film screenings on April 22-26 at Detroit Free Press’ website.

Officials say the virtual screenings will feature local and nationally produced documentaries, typically connected to Detroit or Michigan, with a mix of feature-length films and shorts.

“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.”

Video panel discussions will take place after each screening, comprised of film directors, film subjects, Detroit Free Press journalists and more, officials said.

Virtual screenings of the films will be available for free, but only at their scheduled times, officials say.

Direct links to view the screenings will be available at the festival’s website here.

Below is the lineup for Freep’s virtual film screenings:

Wednesday, April 22

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.

Thursday, April 23

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.

Friday, April 24

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.

Saturday, April 25

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.

Sunday, April 26

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 Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.