Freep Film Festival 2021

Click the film/program titles to purchase tickets. All Cinema Detroit shows take place in-person at the theater, 4126 Third Street, 48201. Please review the festival COVID protocol.

September 23

4:00 p.m.

Works In Progress

Shorts program | Free to attend

Directors of three in-progress documentaries will be on hand to show off short samples of their work at at the annual Works-in-Progress event, which is being co-presented by Wayne State University's College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and Facing Change: Documenting Detroit. At this free event, the filmmakers will talk about their films while showing clips of the in-process docs. They will then receive feedback from a panel of documentary filmmakers and producers, including Juanita Anderson, Senior Lecturer and Area Head, Media Arts and Studies at WSU; filmmaker and producer Beth Levison whose film “Storm Lake” is having its Michigan premiere at Freep Film Festival; and Razi Jafri, a local producer and filmmaker, whose film “Hamtramck USA” is having its Michigan theatrical premiere during this year’s festival.   
The featured films include: 
“Mackinac”: Local filmmaker and Freep Film Festival alum Carrie LeZotte takes us aboard a sailboat full of teenagers and their dads for the longest freshwater race in the world — an adventure in parenting, friendship and the love of sailing. LeZotte’s film “Lean, Mean and Green” screened at the 2013 Freep Film Festival. 
Untitled Detroit Women in Hip Hop film: Photographer-turned-filmmaker Piper Carter focuses on women in the Detroit hip-hop scene and the efforts to amplify and support these artists’ voices. 
“Bad Axe”: Director David Siev documents his return home when the global pandemic forces the Asian-American filmmaker to leave New York City for his rural hometown. While there, he decides to pick up a camera to document his family's struggles of running a restaurant during COVID. With the global events of 2020 unfolding in real-time, a portrait unfolds the complexities of a multicultural family striving to assimilate in the small, conservative town of Bad Axe, Mich. 


September 24

4:00 p.m.

Real Fresh: Showcase & Competition

Shorts program | Running time 75 min. 

The new Real Fresh showcase and competition spotlights the work of student documentary filmmakers from Michigan State University, Oakland University, University of Michigan, University of Windsor and Wayne State University. Faculty representatives from each of the five schools nominated a total of 26 student films. From that group, a Freep Film Festival jury chose these 10 shorts as representing some of the best documentary work from our region’s colleges.



8:00 p.m.

The Passing On

2020 | Directed by Nathan Clarke | Running time 61 min.

Three professions ushered Black former slaves from poverty to the American dream: preacher, teacher, and undertaker. Today, Black funeral homes are closing across America due to the loss of Black neighborhoods and gentrification. Lewis Funeral Home has functioned within this tradition and new reality as a pillar of the Black community in San Antonio, Texas since 1909. Renowned embalmer James Bryant hopes a promising mortuary student will overlook his feelings of rejection within the African-American community to continue within the disappearing tradition. Michigan premiere.

September 25

4:00 p.m.

 Becoming Cousteau

2021 | Directed by Liz Garbus | 92 min.

Becoming Cousteau examines the epic life of Jacques Yves Cousteau, the ocean explorer who spanned the globe with a misfit crew of divers and filmmakers, under the lifelong creed, “Il faut aller voir”: “We must go and see for ourselves.” The Frenchman who first sounded the alarm to save the oceans was born with a dream to fly, but a car accident grounded his aviation career, and he found rehabilitation and inspiration through free-diving in the South of France.  His desire to go deeper and further led him to inventions that would forever change the way we see and know the undersea world, co-inventing the “aqualung” and revolutionizing underwater cinematography.  At the start, a burgeoning oil industry backed his explorations paving the way for ocean exploitation. Then, the television industry made him an international star. His trailblazing underwater cinematography and high sea adventures aboard the Calypso introduced generations around the world to the wonders of the seas, but when Cousteau started to see with his own eyes the destruction and degradation of the oceans, he sounded the alarm.  But was it too late? Michigan premiere.


7:30 p.m.

A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks

2021 | Directed by John Maggio | 89 min.

Known for widening the view of Black American life through his photography and directing films such as the original Shaft, Gordon Parks was one of America's most trailblazing artists. A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks explores the power of images to advance racial, economic, and social equality — and the generation of young photographers, filmmakers and activists he inspired.

Discussion to follow - participants TBD


September 26

2:30 p.m.

Since I Been Down

2020 | Directed by Gilda Sheppard | 105 min.

Thrown into prison as children — not for education or rehabilitation, but for removal and punishment — as adults, a group of prisoners in Tacoma, Wash., cannot be silenced. Together they build a prisoners’ community of healing that extends beyond prison walls. Since I Been Down spotlights prisoner Kimonti Carter and follows his efforts, as well as a wide group of prisoners, as they break free from their fate and create a model of education that is transforming their lives, their communities, our prisons, and our own humanity. With Panel


6:00 p.m.

Company Town

2020 | Directed by Peter D. Findlay | 52 min.

The workers at General Motors in Oshawa are in for the fight of their lives when the company announces it is closing operations after 100 years. Company Town takes viewers behind closed doors during the union's desperate battle to save the plant and 5,000 jobs, with exclusive access to combative union leader Jerry Dias — and a surprise appearance by rock superstar Sting. 


Q & A to follow - participants TBD