Cinema Detroit is one of the venues participating in the 2016 Freep Film Festival. Sponsored by the Detroit Free Press, the festival features documentaries on all things Detroit and Michigan.
Here is the lineup of films playing at Cinema Detroit:
Friday, April 1
7:00 p.m. “T-Rex” chronicles the journey of Flint boxer Clareesa Shields’ quest for gold in women’s boxing at the 2012 Summer Olympics. We see is a confident champion whose strength belies her youth. She brings the same determination to the boxing ring as she does to her dream of using her success to help her family escape from poverty. Following the film, Thom Powers, programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival, leads a discussion with director Zackary Canepari.
9:15 p.m. “Speed Sisters” After the Sept. 11 attacks, Lebanese Canadian filmmaker Amber Fares put aside her career in marketing to focus on another topic: life in the Middle East, where her roots began. In 2007 she enrolled in a Canadian film program; by 2009 she had co-founded SocDoc Studios with fellow filmmaker Avi Goldstein. “Speed Sisters” is Fares’ first feature-length documentary and it untangles the intricate lives of the first all-female race car driving team in the Arab World. In both English and Arabic with English subtitles, Fares traverses the day-to-day struggles of the five women who make up the team — Maysoon Jayyusi, Mona Ali, Marah Zahalka, Noor Dauod and Betty Saadeh— and connects their individual worlds to tell a much deeper story. Through a sensitive yet powerful approach, she tackles stereotypes against women, the hardships of living in a war zone, family, loyalty and survival — and how one sport can provide an escape from it all. Placing their unwavering dedication on the front line, Fares shows how the team of five challenge, curb, and conquer societal norms.
Saturday, April 2
1:30 p.m. “The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?” This documentary explores the largely untold story of the almost-made film Superman Lives, which featured an early script by Kevin Smith, Tim Burton locked in as director and Nicholas Cage cast as Superman. Killed just before production was to start, it has long been the subject of speculation in comic book circles — especially because Burton and Cage were prepared to completely bend traditional notions of the Superman mythology. Director Jon Schnepp talks to many of the principals (including Smith and Burton) and features fascinating Cage screen tests involving the still-in-development Super-suit. With “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” now playing in theatres, “Death of Superman Lives” provides a tantalizing and timely reminder of what likely would have been the most out-there comic-book adaptation ever filmed.
4:30 p.m. Freep Film Festival Shorts Program No. 2
- “Head of Joaquin Murrieta”: With a jar that holds the head of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw who was beheaded by bounty hunters in 1853, filmmaker John J. Valadez travels cross country in search of legend of the murdered man and the dark past between Mexicans and the United States.
- “Mnomen”: Mnomen, a Potawatomi word for wild rice, is the focus of this documentary about the Potawatomi people’s connection to this disappearing sacred food. Set on Gun Lake northwest of Battle Creek.
- “Vogue Detroit”: The voguing dance culture is alive and well in Detroit’s LGBTQ community — and in this documentary short.
- “Starting Over”: The compelling tale of Lorene Vanzomeren, a woman who spent over a decade living in a cinderblock building in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
- “Stateless: Syrian Refugees in Detroit”: This short made by five Ithaca college students details the plight of Syrians fleeing their worn-torn country in favor of metro Detroit — and the polarization their arrival causes.
After the films, several of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their movies.
7:00 p.m. “The Michigan Ice Film” The southern coast of Lake Superior is fertile ground for ice climbers, a thrill-seeking species of athlete that thrives on scaling ice formations in subzero temperatures. The Michigan Ice Film introduces us to old hands and young bucks, showing how one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets fits into the bigger picture of this challenging sport. Director Aaron Peterson will participate in a Q & A after the film.
9:15 p.m. “The Dying of the Light” Largely unchanged for more than a century, the projection of photochemical film faces an uncertain future in the digital age. The practice of handing and projecting film is in danger of being lost; and the role of film projectionist is nearing extinction. The Dying of the Light explores at the history and craft of motion picture presentation through the lives and stories of the last generation of career projectionists – the specialists who can lace a projector, run reel-to-reel changeovers, splice and wind film, and ensure proper brightness and focus on screen.
By turns humorous and melancholic, their candid reflections on life in the booth reveal a world that has largely gone unnoticed and is now at an end. The result is a loving tribute to the art and romance of the movies — and to the unseen people who put the light on our screens. Along with its focus on the eccentric characters who helm the projection booths, it also visits theaters (working and not) around the country, including Detroit’s Michigan Theatre, which now functions as a parking garage. After the film, director Peter Flynn takes part in a Q & A with Detroit Free Press film critic John Monaghan.
Sunday, April 3
3:30 p.m. “Life in Osborn” From Walter V. Marshall, the director of 2014’s Cody High: A Life Remodeled, comes Life in Osborn, a profile of Osborn High School on Detroit’s east side and the community surrounding it. At the center of revitalization efforts is the non-profit group Life Remodeled, which continues to transform one of the most blighted areas in the city, using the public high school as its cornerstone. Interview subjects include Pandora Ingram, who struggles to regain her faith in community after losing a son to gang violence, and some of the estimated 10,000 volunteers from businesses, churches, and residences (led by founders Chris Lambert and his wife Andrea) that have resulted in lower crime rates and higher graduation numbers. After the film, Carlton Winfrey of the Free Press leads a discussion about neighborhood revitalization with director Walter V. Marshall, Skillman Foundation President and CEO Tonya Allen, Life Remodeled’s Chris Lambert, and Osborn Neighborhood Alliance Director Quincy Jones.
6:30 p.m. “The Goat Yard ” In the shadow of a former east side Detroit brick factory lies the Detroit Boat Works, a.k.a. The Goat Yard in honor of a bearded Billy goat that once guarded the place. More than just a place to dock and sail boats, the property is home to a decommissioned Detroit fire engine, a tugboat, the remains of a sunken schooner and dozens of castoff sailboats waiting for new owners to refurbish – and a wild cast of distinctly Detroit characters. The movie focuses on the rabble-rousing Hume and the eccentric sailing community that formed around him. The film is comprised of recent footage and vintage material stretching back to the club’s formation in the 1950s, including Hume’s attempts to challenge former Mayor Coleman Young in both recall and election campaigns and the creation of a homemade Aqua-Car that was meant to jumpstart vehicle manufacturing in the Motor City. Following the film will be a Q&A with directors and producers Kimberly Stricker and Michael Pfaendtner moderated by the Free Press’ Jim Schaefer.
Tickets are $10 for each film and are available at the box office, but it is strongly recommended that tickets are purchased in advance, as many screenings sell out. More information and tickets are available here.