Freep Film Festival draws moviegoers to theaters, home


The eighth annual Freep Film Festival, a celebration of the documentary film produced by Free Press, wraps up Sunday evening after five days of showing films that touch the lives of people in Detroit and Michigan.

Film buffs gathered under Sydney G. James’ mural titled “Girl with the Earing” to watch “Alumination”, an ode to the Airstreams, and get a glimpse of the incomparable travel trailers.

Wall painting by Syndey G. James

They supported student filmmakers who were part of “Real Fresh Shorts”, a showcase of young filmmakers perfecting their craft at local universities.

And they’ve stayed home in droves to watch documentary films – including the story of Detroit’s Boblo boats and a film capturing the ups and downs of a local newspaper trying to survive – from the comfort of their living room.

Amid the pandemic, the festival offered viewers more than 40 events, including in-person testing opportunities (which require a vaccination card or negative coronavirus test within the previous 72 hours) and the ability to watch 19 feature-length documentaries and short programs.

Following:4 musical documentaries at the Freep Film Festival will have you dancing in the aisles

People come in for the film screening

There is one day left at this year’s Freep Film Festival. Here’s a slice of what’s on the deck. Learn more at

Political commentator Van Jones is at the center of "The first step."

“The first step”: This documentary is a deepening of Van Jones’ controversial efforts to work with the Trump administration to push through criminal justice reform. After the film, Rochelle Riley, who heads the City of Detroit’s Bureau of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship, will discuss the next steps in criminal justice reform with producer Lance Kramer; Louis L. Reed, senior director of membership and partnerships at REFORM Alliance, who is featured in the film; Joshua Hoe, policy analyst at Safe & Just Michigan; and Ashley Goldon, statewide program director at Nation Outside. 1 p.m. Sunday, Detroit Film Theater at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit

A still image from the documentary

“Since I broke down”: Filmmaker and Detroit native Gilda Sheppard explores the societal ills that lead to imprisonment and follows the efforts of a group of incarcerated people to create a model of education that transforms their lives and communities. After the film, Detroit Free Press education equity reporter Lily Altavena chats with Sheppard and Tonya Wilson, back-to-school outreach coordinator for the Freedom Project in Seattle, in a conversation recorded. 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Cinema Detroit, 4126 Third St., Detroit

“City of the company”: This film follows the struggle to save manufacturing jobs at a General Motors SUV and pickup truck plant in Oshawa, Ont., A facility where generations of residents have built their livelihoods. After the film, watch a pre-recorded conversation, during which Jamie LaReau, Automotive Writer of Free Press, chats with director Peter Findlay and Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor. And after the program, meet Findlay.6 p.m., Sunday, Cinema Detroit, 4126 Third St., Detroit


Leave A Reply