Join us for the 2017 Detroit Free Press Film Festival

The Freep Film Festival returns March 30 – April 2, adding Emagine Novi and Emagine Royal Oak as part of this year’s 4th annual event! A number of Michigan-focused films will make their Metro Detroit premieres at Emagine. See the full schedule and purchase tickets below.

Dolores

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History tells us that Cesar Chavez transformed the U.S. labor movement by leading the first farm workers’ union. But often missing from this narrative is his equally influential co-founder, Dolores Huerta, who fought tirelessly alongside Chavez for racial and labor justice and became one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th Century. The documentary, which debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has a historical approach, but also arrives decidedly of the moment as the nation debates issues of immigration, environment, labor and women’s rights. 2017. 1 hour 35 minutes. Directed by Peter Bratt. Michigan premiere.

 

The Ethanol Effect

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From Iowa’s farm fields to Washington’s corridors of power, and from the algae-choked surface of the Great Lakes to the poisoned depths of the Gulf of Mexico, “The Ethanol Effect” investigates the human, environmental and political costs of growing and refining corn for ethanol in America. The film is a collaboration between Detroit Public TV and David Biello, an award-winning environmental journalist and author. 2016. 1 hour. Directed by Bill Kubota.

 

Skips Stones for Fudge

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For more than a decade, Russ (Rock Bottom) Byars and Kurt (Mountain Man) Steiner have endured a rivalry that lifted competitive stone skipping to unthinkable heights. Tested by physical ailments, emotional hardships and the rise of young talent, these obscure legends fight to cement their place in the record books. Set partially on Mackinac Island and featuring other Michigan-based stone-skippers, the film is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever skimmed a stone across the surface of a Michigan lake. 2016. 52 minutes. Directed by Ryan Seitz. Michigan premiere.

 

Tickling Giants

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In the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef makes a decision that’s every mother’s worst nightmare: He leaves his job as a heart surgeon to become a full-time comedian. He is soon dubbed “the Egyptian Jon Stewart” after he creates and hosts a weekly satirical news show that becomes the most-watched TV program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode. In a country where free speech is not settled law, Bassem’s show becomes as controversial as it popular. He and his staff must endure physical threats, protests and legal action, all because of jokes. Despite increasing danger, the team at “Al Bernameg” employ comedy, not violence, to comment on hypocrisy in media, politics, and religion. “Tickling Giants” follows the team as the show earns a supportive fan in Stewart and discovers democracy is not easily won. The young women and men working on Bassem’s show are fearless revolutionaries, who just happen to be really, really funny. 2016. 1 hour, 51 minutes. Directed by Sara Taksler. Metro Detroit premiere.

 

White Boy

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“White Boy Rick,” as he was called, was a novelty: A white teenager seemingly running a major inner-city drug operation. In May of 1987, 17-year-old Richard Wershe Jr. was charged with a non-violent, juvenile drug offense. By the time of his arrest he was already a Detroit legend, frequently making front-page headlines and leading the local television news. In this film, gangsters, hit men, journalists and federal agents struggle to explain why he remains in prison at nearly 50 years old. The possible explanation is more stunning than the crimes Wershe was alleged to have committed. 2017. 1 hour, 15 minutes. Directed by Christopher S. Rech. World premiere.

 

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

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“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a 5-year legal battle. At turns funny, infuriating and uplifting, the documentary was directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “Life Itself”). 2016. 1 hour, 28 minutes. Directed by Steve James. Michigan premiere.

 

From Detroit with Love: Shorts Program #1

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A selection of Detroit-themed documentary shorts

 

12th and Clairmount

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Home movie footage donated by metro Detroiters provides the spine of “12th and Clairmount,” which looks back at the Detroit riot of 1967 — and its causes and aftermath. Those five days in July were among the most pivotal — and divisive — in the city’s history, with the turmoil leaving 43 dead. While the impending 50th anniversary of the summer of ’67 was the impetus for the film, the home movie footage in “12th and Clairmount” captures a wide spectrum of Detroit life, from proud streetscapes to dance parties to neighborhood sporting events. Drawing from more than 400 reels of donated home movies from the era, other unearthed footage and newly recorded oral histories, the documentary is being produced by the Free Press in collaboration with Bridge Magazine and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and a group of metro Detroit cultural institutions, led by the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Isle Royale Double Feature

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This double feature of two mid-length documentaries is the first return engagement for a sold-out screening at the 2016 Freep Film Festival. “Predator/Prey: The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves,” directed by the Free Press’ Brian Kaufman, explores how the fragile ecosystem of Isle Royale National Park is dominated by the predator-prey relationship between wolves and moose. With wolves dwindling and moose booming, the National Park Service must decide how to manage these iconic species in a time when climate change threatens to undermine both. “Fifty Lakes One Island” is the result of Chicago filmmaker George Desort spending 80 nights on the Lake Superior island. Traveling alone with his camera equipment and as much food as he could fit into his kayak, Desort explored the rugged terrain of Isle Royale, creating a film built on breathtaking footage and personal, unvarnished storytelling. “Predator/Prey”: 2016. 37 min. Directed by Brian Kaufman. “Fifty Lakes One Island”: 2013. Directed by George Desort.

 

Meet Me At The Lindell

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For more than 50 years, the Lindell AC was the place to see and be seen in Detroit. Thanks to hosts Jimmy and Johnny Butsicaris, on any given night, a beer at the Lindell could be your ticket to an evening with a who’s who of famous athletes, entertainers, politicians and media figures. The film tells the story of the legendary downtown watering hole that launched a million stories. 2017. 44 minutes. Directed by Jason Danielewicz.

Spaces and Places: Shorts Program #2

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A selection of documentary shorts on the theme of locations, including a look at Rabbit Island in the Keweenaw Bay of Lake Superior.

Strike a Pose

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In 1990, seven young dancers joined pop star Madonna on her most controversial world tour. Wild, talented and barely 20 years old, the dancers set out on the trip of a lifetime, their journey captured in “Truth or Dare,” one of the highest-grossing documentaries ever. As a self-proclaimed mother to her six gay dancers (plus straight Oliver), Madonna used the film to take a stand on gay rights, freedom of expression and the fight against AIDS. Madonna’s flamboyant dancers became icons of sexual freedom, inspiring people all over the world. “Strike a Pose” not only captures their impact, but provides glimpses behind the scenes – where the dynamics were not always as graceful as they appeared onstage. 2016. 1 hour, 23 minutes. Directed by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan. Michigan premiere.

White Boy

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“White Boy Rick,” as he was called, was a novelty: A white teenager seemingly running a major inner-city drug operation. In May of 1987, 17-year-old Richard Wershe Jr. was charged with a non-violent, juvenile drug offense. By the time of his arrest he was already a Detroit legend, frequently making front-page headlines and leading the local television news. In this film, gangsters, hit men, journalists and federal agents struggle to explain why he remains in prison at nearly 50 years old. The possible explanation is more stunning than the crimes Wershe was alleged to have committed. 2017. 1 hour, 15 minutes. Directed by Christopher S. Rech. World premiere.

24 Hour War

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This film co-directed by podcaster/comedian/auto enthusiast Adam Carolla tracks one of the most famous battles in auto-racing history: the Ford-Ferrari rivalry at Le Mans. It started in 1963 when Henry Ford II tried to save the ailing Ford Motor Co. by buying Ferrari, which was the most successful racing team in the world at that time. After months of intense negotiations, Enzo Ferrari said no – refusing to allow Ford to interfere with what he loved the most: racing. Henry Ford II was furious, and vowed to build a racecar that would dethrone Ferrari, leading to the development of the revolutionary GT40. “The 24 Hour War” blends current interviews and classic footage for a speed-filled look at the Ford-Ferrari battle at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the famed endurance race where Ferrari had reigned supreme for decades.

Tomorrow

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Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story … this is the approach “Tomorrow” takes to confronting the globe’s ecological, economic and social crises. Cyril Dion, Mélanie Laurent (the French actress best known in the U.S. as the star of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds”) and a team of four people travel to 10 different countries to investigate approaches to moving the world in positive directions – everything from educational systems to energy conservation to alternative currencies. Their journey brings them to Detroit, where they meet with the hard-toiling urban farmers who are increasingly impacting life in the Motor City. 2016. 1 hour, 58 minutes. Directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent. Released in France under the title “Demain.” In English and French with some English subtitles. Metro Detroit premiere.

For questions about showtimes and ticket sales, please contact your local box office. To ask general questions about the Freep Film Festival, please contact us at marketing@emagine-entertainment.com.