2016 FILMS

Capsule descriptions of all the films – and links to buy tickets – are below.
To view the schedule as a day-by-day grid, click here.

Descriptions of films are below.

THURSDAY: OPENING NIGHT

“Fatman on Batman” Live + ‘T-Rex’

Kevin Smith brings his popular “Fatman on Batman” podcast to the Fillmore Detroit while ‘T-Rex’ makes its Detroit premiere at the DIA.

“Fatman on Batman”: If you were to draw a Venn diagram with circles for movies, comic books, comedy, podcasting and Batman, filmmaker Kevin Smith would be in the intersection of everything. The director-writer-actor-podcaster will be bringing that sensibility and expertise for an opening night stand-up performance at the Fillmore Detroit. The “Fatman on Batman” event – which arrives the week after the opening of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” – will also feature his cohost for the pop culture podcast of the same name, comic book writer Marc Bernardin, and promises a night of “talk about all the news in movie make-believe, terrific TV and anything that squeaks in geek!”

Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 31, at the Fillmore Detroit.

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“T-Rex”: “T-Rex” chronicles the journey of Flint’s Claressa (T-Rex) Shields as she pursues her goal of winning the gold in women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics. Shields, who’s just 17 in the documentary, 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 poverty. The movie goes behind the scenes to give a realistic portrayal of the challenges Shields faces, both as a rising star in a sport being featured in its first Olympics and as someone trying not to let her family’s problems affect her focus.

Opening night: Doors at 6 p.m., film at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at the Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA

7 p.m. Friday, April 1 at Cinema Detroit

After the film: On Thursday, Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley leads a discussion with Olympic gold-medal boxer Claressa Shields, director Zackary Canepari and participants in the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program. On Friday, Thom Powers, programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival, leads a discussion with director Zackary Canepari.

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FREEP FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP

‘Accidental Activists’

Accidental Activists

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer were simply looking to overturn the law that prevented them from adopting their children. But on the recommendation of a federal judge, the Hazel Park couple’s lawyers launched a frontal assault on the legal barrier that prevents them from jointly adopting — Michigan’s constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex couples from marrying. The case, which Free Press photographer/videographer Mandi Wright has been following from the outset, became the accelerant that would result in the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage across the country in June 2015. The film follows the three-year battle that would turn these unassuming moms into the most unlikely of activists. World premiere. After the film: On Saturday, Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson leads a discussion with Jayne and April DeBoer-Rowse, attorneys Dana Nessel and Carole Stanyar, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman and director Mandi Wright. On Sunday, Between the Lines Publisher Jan Stevenson leads a discussion with director Wright and Jayne and April DeBoer-Rowse.

5 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA. 

2 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA.

‘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. The documentary talks to many of the principals (including Smith and Burton) and features fascinating Cage screen tests where he test-drives the still-in-development supersuit. With “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hitting theaters this month, it provides a tantalizing and timely reminder of what likely would have been the most out-there comic-book adaptation ever filmed.

1:30 Saturday, April 2, Cinema Detroit.

‘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. Michigan premiere. After the film: On Saturday, director Peter Flynn takes part in a Q&A with film critic John Monaghan. On Sunday, Flynn will talk with Mike White, co-host of “The Projection Booth” podcast.

9:15 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Cinema Detroit

1 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Detroit Historical Museum

‘EXPORTED FROM MICHIGAN’

Michigan’s economic recovery links with sustainability in this documentary that focuses on businesses big and small making a difference in the community. Among those interviewed in this upbeat film: Detroit urban farmers, a former manufacturer of fiberglass boats that now makes wind turbines, and the hybrid car units at Ford and General Motors. Directed by Jon Vander Pol. Metro Detroit premiere. After the film:Programming is to be announced.

1 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak

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‘Farming Detroit’

Farming in Detroit

It’s easy to take for granted, but pay a visit to Eastern Market at the height of summer and you’ll find a multitude of produce grown not just within a 100-mile radius but within Detroit city limits. The city’s precipitous decline over the last half-century led to blight and neglect, yes, but also to great opportunity when it comes to creative land use. With an impressive amount of farming taking place in the city — this FYI-produced documentary puts the number of gardens in Detroit at an estimated 1,500-2,000 — “Farming Detroit” takes a look at six urban-ag efforts in and around the city. From health clinics with community gardens to volunteer efforts aimed at getting college students involved and thinking about the problems (and solutions) of Detroit to small-profit farming, the stories of these growers are varied and their backgrounds diverse. What unites them all is a shared sense that food is a fundamental right and need, and that we can all do well by doing good. World premiere. After the film: Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor Keith Owens leads a discussion about agriculture in Detroit with Jerry Hebron, chief cultivator at Oakland Avenue Urban Farms; Mike Wimberley, general manager of Detroit Friends Potato Chip Co.; Tyson Gersh, co-founder of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative; and Babar Qadri, co-founder of the urban garden at the HUDA Clinic.

5 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA.

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‘Fire Photo -> 1’

“Fire Photo -> 1” tells the story of unassuming, affable Bill Eisner, who has amassed a visual history of the Detroit Fire Department that’s been described as a priceless museum. His archive is gargantuan: hundreds of thousands of photographs, Super 8mm film reels, boxes of videotapes and audio cassette recordings that include dispatch traffic from the ’67 riots. His remarkable archive tells the story of firefighters at work in a city that has burned more than any other in America. And it tells the story of Eisner, whose single-minded pursuit has made him as deeply ingrained in the Detroit Fire Department as any firefighter. After the film: On Sunday, Anna Clark, a freelance journalist and editor of “A Detroit Anthology,” talks with director Brian Kaufman and Bill Eisner.

3 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Detroit Historical Museum (as part of a double feature with “Graveyard of the Great Lakes: A Shipwreck Hunter’s Quest to Discover the Past”) .

7 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Red Bull House of Art as part of “Documenting Detroit” event. This screening is free.

FREEP FILM FESTIVAL ACADEMY

This full-day session will include master classes, a panel discussion on industry trends, and screenings of local student films. Like the Freep Film Festival itself, the Academy will focus on documentaries, though there will be some attention on the film world as a whole. Starts at 8 a.m. Friday, April 1, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Admission is $25 for students with valid college ID and $65 for non-students.

FREEP FILM FESTIVAL SHORTS PROGRAM #1

“Even the Walls”: In the name of urban renewal, a public housing project is confronted with gentrification that forces out lifelong residents who built a community in this Seattle neighborhood.

“Hudson’s Implosion”: Detroit Free Press photographer Mary Schroeder recounts the day 17 years ago when she and other Free Press photographers captured Detroit’s most iconic department store’s implosion, which created a dust cloud that coated downtown.

“Coming Home”: A two-story abandoned Detroit house is torn down and moved to Europe as part of an art project by American artist Ryan Mendoza.

Ka-dy Comes Home”: Retired boxer Ka-Dy King returns to his hometown, Detroit, to revisit childhood haunts — including the original Kronk Gym — and reconnect with his boxing family.

“The Festival”: Many consider the swarms of fish flies that emerge in Michigan lakefront communities each summer to be a pesky nuisances – at best. Not the folks in New Baltimore, who’ve been welcoming the winged buggers at the Bay-rama FishFly Festival for more than 50 years.

After the films: Several of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their movies.

2:30 Saturday, April 2, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts

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‘Freep Film Festival Shorts Program #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.

4:30 Saturday, April 2, at Cinema Detroit

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‘From This Day Forward’

From This Day Forward

Trisha Shattuck came out to her daughters as a transgender woman when they were in elementary school; she told her wife, Marcia, early on in their relationship. The film, set largely in northern Michigan, ably delves into how Trisha transitioned (and continues to transition, seemingly on a daily basis), delivering a powerful look at the complicated nature of the gender identity spectrum. The story is told in first-person fashion by the couple’s daughter, director Sharon Shattuck. Metro Detroit premiere.After the film: A Q&A with Trisha and Marcia Shattuck.

8 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak

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‘The Goat Yard’

More than a place to dock and sail boats, the Detroit Boat Works (also known as The Goat Yard) is home to an eccentric community of sailors led by rabble-rouser Stephen Hume. The film uses old and new footage to chronicle the club’s history and its current destination as an urban playground, complete with an old Detroit fire engine, school bus and the remains of a sunken schooner. World premiere. After the film: There will be a Q&A with directors and producers Kimberly Stricker and Michael Pfaendtner moderated by the Free Press’ Jim Schaefer on Friday and Nancy Kaffer on Sunday. 

8 p.m. Friday, April 1, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Also 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3 at Cinema Detroit.

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‘Graveyard of the Great Lakes’

One of two opening-night films at the 2015 Freep Film Festival, “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” profiles David Trotter, who has discovered nearly 100 shipwrecks in his 35 years of exploring the Great Lakes. Filmmaker Eric Seals spent nearly two years documenting the story of the 74-year-old Trotter, Michigan’s maritime history and people’s fascination with shipwrecks. Each discovery brings tales of lost souls, heroes and survivors. The movie is screening as part of a Fire + Water double feature with “Fire Photo -> 1,”  the story of Detroit fire photographer Bill Eisner. After the film:Director Eric Seals and shipwreck diver Robert Martelli join “Fire Photo -> 1” director Brian Kaufman and photographer Bill Eisner to discuss the films.

3 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Detroit Historical Museum 

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‘The Great Alone’

Lance Mackey is a four-time winner of the Iditarod, the grueling, 1,000-plus-mile dog sled race between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska, that takes about nine days. The movie captures the contradictions in the life of a man that filmmaker Greg Kohs (a metro Detroit native) calls “Alaska’s answer to Kid Rock,” from struggles with substance abuse and cancer to his strained relationship with father, Dick Mackey, who in 1978 won perhaps the most fabled edition of the race. Metro Detroit premiere. After the film: A Q&A with director Greg Kohs.

2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA.

5 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak

HEARTS OF DARKNESS/APOCALYPSE NOW DOUBLE FEATURE

The production of “Apocalypse Now,” the 1979 Vietnam War film based on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” is legendary for problems encountered during its shoot in the Philippines. “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” chronicles all the horrors of the production, including lousy weather, a heart attack suffered by star Martin Sheen, and the usual problems with Marlon Brando. Way behind schedule and over budget (the six-week shoot turned to 68), the movie nearly scuttled the career (and some say sanity) of director Francis Ford Coppola, who nevertheless delivered an unforgettable film experience for viewers. Filmmakers George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr employ footage shot during the making of the film (much of it supplied by Coppola’s wife Eleanor) to tell a story almost as bizarre as the actual film. The documentary, which debuted at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, enjoys a 25th anniversary celebration including an appearance by the doc’s co-director Bahr, a metro Detroit native.

“Hearts of Darkness” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA. Q&A  with Fax Bahr follows. 

“Apocalypse Now” will screen at the Detroit Film Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

‘The Hip-Hop Fellow’

Emmy award-winning filmmaker Kenneth Price follows Grammy award-winning producer 9th Wonder’s duration as a fellow at Harvard University. 9th Wonder — whose real name is Patrick Douthit — began his career as part of the acclaimed hip-hop trio Little Brother and later went on to work with Jay Z, Ludacris, Destiny’s Child and Erykah Badu. Throughout the film, Douthit is shadowed while he teaches The Standards of Hip-Hop course and conducts research for his thesis. Focused on various ways hip-hop studies can be incorporated into academic curriculum, “The Hip-Hop Fellow” dives deep into 40 years of hip-hop history and how it connects to modern culture. Additional interviews include rapper Kendrick Lamar and turntablist DJ Premier. Michigan premiere.

After the film: Kelley L. Carter of ESPN/The Undefeated hosts a moderated panel.

8 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Third Man Records Cass Corridor

ISLE ROYALE DOUBLE FEATURE

“Fifty Lakes One Island”: In 2011, Chicago filmmaker George Desort spent 80 nights on Isle Royale. Traveling alone with his camera equipment and as much food as he could fit into his kayak, Desort explores the rugged terrain of the island, capturing vast cinematic imagery (and himself) as he seeks to visit each of the 50 lakes. “The longer I’m here, the closer I’m getting to some great secret,” Desort says in the film. “It’s nothing tangible, it’s nothing I can even really explain.” Metro Detroit premiere.

‘Predator / Prey: The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves’: The fragile ecosystem of Isle Royale National Park is dominated by the predator/prey relationship between wolves and moose. But on the biggest island in the biggest freshwater lake on Earth, things have unraveled. 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. The film is the latest work from the Free Press’ Brian Kaufman (“Packard: The Last Shift,”  “Fire Photo -> 1”). World premiere.

After the films: Free Press environmental writer Keith Matheny leads a discussion with director Brian Kaufman; Rolf Peterson, research professor at Michigan Tech University; and his wife Carolyn Peterson, a research volunteer. The couple have  spent more than 40 summers on Isle Royale.

3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA. 

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‘LAND GRAB’

Land Grab

Mindful Detroiters are well aware of how the orderly rows of trees known as Hantz Woodlands on the city’s east side came to be. “Land Grab” delves into the political maneuvering behind the project, highlighting a divided citizenry skeptical of businessman John Hantz’s motives. But the overall impact of Hantz Farms has yet to be settled; this is an effort that will be measured in decades, not months. Directed by Sean O’Grady. World premiere. After the film: The Free Press’ John Gallagher leads a discussion with director Sean O’Grady; John Hantz, head of the Hantz Group and founder of Hantz Woodlands; local resident  Ray Anderson, and others on land use in Detroit.

(Note: Hantz provided some funds for the completion of the film, which was initially instigated, worked and financed independently.)

1 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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‘LIFE IN OSBORN’

This inspirational documentary shows the continuing transformation of the severely blighted neighborhood surrounding Osborn High School on Detroit’s east side. At the center of these efforts is the husband-and-wife team of Chris and Andre Lambert, who have motivated 10,000 volunteers to clean up the school and the neighborhood surrounding it. After the film: The Free Press’ Carlton Winfrey 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.

4 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Cinema Detroit.

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‘THE MESSENGER’

The Messenger

In world mythology, birds are heralds and harbingers, bearing messages from the skies. “The Messenger” explores the uncertain fate of songbirds menaced by habitat destruction, pollution and climate change. The film’s persuasive contention: Birds respond quickly to environmental conditions and by studying them we can observe in microcosm our planet’s larger ecological crises.  Michigan premiere. After the film:  Programming is to be announced.

5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak

‘MICHAEL JACKSON’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall’

Michael Jackson makes his mark with his first solo album as an adult: “Off The Wall.” But to tell the story of this album you have to go back to the beginning. This film, directed by Spike Lee, starts with a glimpse into Michael’s evolution from the early days as a member of the Jackson Five to the point Michael decides it is finally time to release his first solo album — featuring his own music and with him having ultimate creative control. Lee then offers an in-depth look at each of the tracks on this seminal album, the cultural significance of “Off The Wall” and the impact it continues to have on today’s artists. The individuals interviewed for the documentary include some of today’s most important artists, including John Legend, Pharrell Williams, The Weeknd and Mark Ronson, as well as other cultural icons, such as Lee Daniels, Misty Copeland, Kobe Bryant, L.A. Reid, and Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. It is clear that the influence of The King of Pop and “Off The Wall” continue to be felt today.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA. .

11:45 a.m. Sunday, April 3, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak

‘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 film introduces us to old hands and young bucks, providing context for where one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets fits into the bigger picture of this challenging sport. Metro Detroit premiere. After the film on Saturday: There will be a Q&A with director Aaron Peterson.

7 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak. 

7 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Cinema Detroit

Michigan Ice Film

‘Parducci: The Man Who Made Detroit Beautiful’

Corrado Parducci was one of the most prolific architectural sculptors of the last century. Many of his buildings are among the most well-known in Detroit: the Guardian, Buhl, Penobscot, David Stott, Bankers Trust Company and Fisher. While the bulk of his work can be found in Detroit and throughout Michigan, he completed a staggering sum of nearly 600 nationwide commissions from Los Angeles to New York. Parducci’s genius was his ability to work in a multitude of architectural styles. Through interviews with relatives, collaborators and experts, the film tells a story of immigration, perseverance and artistic ability, which provides a compelling backdrop to the visual history of Detroit. World premiere.

After the film: There will be a panel discussion with filmmakers Jack P. Johnson and Jennifer Baross.

 

3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Detroit Historical Museum

‘Requiem for a Running Back’

Rebecca Carpenter

In his 10-year playing career, running back Lewis Carpenter won three world championships with the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. When he died in 2010, he was among the first NFL veterans officially diagnosed, postmortem, with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — the degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blunt force trauma to the skull. In “Requiem for a Running Back,” director Rebecca Carpenter — Lewis’ daughter — conducts a retroactive personal investigation into her father’s life and death. Through archival footage and intimate family photos, the filmmaker examines her father’s professional career and her family’s stormy past. We’re invited to wonder along: To what degree was CTE responsible for her father’s depression, forgetfulness and temper? The film addresses the public health issue that is CTE  through a deeply personal lens, including interviews with scientists, doctors, former teammates and other families affected by CTE. We also meet with NFL greats like Mike Ditka and James Lofton, as well as Dr. Bennet Omalu, subject of the recent Will Smith biopic “Concussion.”  World premiere.

After the film: On Friday, Free Press sports writer Shawn Windsor leads a discussion with director Rebecca Carpenter, Dr. Julian Bailes (chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the NorthShore University HealthSystem and co-director of the North shore Neurological Institute) and others.

On Sunday, Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson leads a discussion with director Rebecca Carpenter, Markus Koch (former defensive lineman for the Washington Redskins) and others.

7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA.

2 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak.

‘Romeo is Bleeding’

“Romeo is Bleeding” stems from a Kickstarter campaign launched by Farmington Hills native Jason Zeldes..The project— which marks Zeldes’ directorial debut — documents a Bay Area neighborhood stricken by violence. Zeldes, who previously worked as an editor on the Oscar-winning music documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” continues his dive into music through this endeavor: “Romeo is Bleeding” shadows Richmond-based poet and activist Donté Clark, who uses poetry and hip-hop to help heal his ravaged community. With the guidance of his teacher and mentor Molly Raynor, Clark creates a modern-day take on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which unfolds in Richmond and tells the revenge-fueled love story through hip-hop metaphors instead. The film also features interviews with young writers of RAW (Richmond Artists With) Talent and several members of the Northern California neighborhood, which is plagued by gang violence, a high murder rate and poverty. Michigan premiere. After the film: A discussion with director Jason Zeldes and Samantha White of Shakespeare in Detroit led by Nichole Christian of InsideOut Literacy Program. Before the film: Students from the InsideOut Literacy Program read their poetry.

11:45 a.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA.

4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA.

‘Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit’ with Electric Six

“Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit” is being touted as a doc/mockumentary starring Detroit’s own Electric Six. The film featuring the ironic (or not?) indie rockers was funded through Kickstarter and is only being released to those that contributed to the band’s fundraising campaign and through film festivals.  Is it real or is it fantasy? With Electric Six, we may never know, but filmmakers Tom Nahas and Tom Lehrer from Mad Habit Creative, along with members of the band, will show clips of the film and talk it up during Freep Film Festival’s first ever works-in-progress event.  Rob St. Mary of the Free Press’ arts and entertainment podcast “Detours” will host.

8 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Third Man Records Cass Corridor.

‘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. “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. 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. Metro Detroit premiere. After the film: A Q&A with director Amber Fares. (In both English and Arabic with English subtitles.) 

9:15 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Cinema Detroit

3 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak

Superior

Though Freep Film Festival is a documentary-based festival, it booked this fictional narrative because of its set-in-Michigan coming-of-age and stunningly gorgeous look at the natural beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the top tip of the U.P. All Derek really wants to do is to take a 1,300-mile bicycle journey along the border of Lake Superior. Charlie reluctantly agrees to go with him. The two head off with their sleeping bags and precious little money or supplies for a trip that will lead them into encounters with some eccentric Yoopers as they face the wilderness and their future.

After the film: There will be a Q&A with director Edd Benda.

9:15 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak 

1 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Detroit Historical Museum 

Subtitled “From Tragedy to Transjustice, Mapping a Detroit Story,” the film is the story of the death of Shelly Hilliard, an African-American transgender teen who was brutally murdered and mutilated in 2011. The documentary by Detroit writer-filmmaker Dream Hampton is an unblinking look at what happened to Hilliard and the overwhelming pain it caused her mother and sisters. But it also focuses on the efforts under way locally to help young people like her, who often face prejudice from the outside world, rejection at home and poverty that drives them to prostitution. After the film: There will be a panel discussion with film subjects and community representatives.

Noon Sunday, April 3, at the Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA.

Treasure
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‘T-REX’

“T-Rex” chronicles the journey of Flint’s Claressa (T-Rex) Shields as she pursues her goal of winning the gold in women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics. Shields, who’s just 17 in the documentary, 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 poverty. The movie goes behind the scenes to give a realistic portrayal of the challenges Shields faces, both as a rising star in a sport being featured in its first Olympics and as someone trying not to let her family’s problems affect her focus.

After the film: On Friday, Thom Powers, programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival, leads a discussion with director Zackary Canepari.

7 p.m. Friday, April 1 at Cinema Detroit.

FREEP FILM FEST INSIDERS THEATER TOUR WITH PRESERVATION DETROIT

For the third year, Preservation Detroit has teamed up with Freep Film Festival to provide a downtown Detroit movie palace tour during the festival weekend.

This year’s walking tour is a scaled-back version of the popular theater events that Preservation Detroit –  a nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation within the city of Detroit –  provides annually in late summer. The Freep Film Festival edition will include guided stops at Adams Theatre, United Artists Theatre, Michigan Theatre, the former Telenews Theatre, Madison Theatre, Detroit Opera House, Music Hall, Gem and Century Theatres, Fox Theatre and Fillmore Detroit. There will be 3 tours (departing from the Fillmore), with start times of noon and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. Each tour will last about 2 hours. Tickets are $17 for nonmembers, $15 for members online. Or $20 day of.

Online ticket purchases will include a discount code for screenings of “The Dying of the Light” and “Parducci: The Man Who Made Detroit Beautiful” at the Detroit Historical Museum on Sunday, April 3.