2017 FILMS

Capsule descriptions of all the films – and links to buy tickets – are below.
Download our day-by-day film schedule grid here!

Descriptions of films are below.


‘12th and Clairmount’

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.

2017. Approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes. Directed by Brian Kaufman. World Premiere.

6:30 p.m. Thu., March 30, the Fillmore Detroit.
1 p.m. Sat., April 1, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
1 p.m. Sun., April 2, Emagine Royal Oak.

6 p.m. Sun., April 2, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

After the films

Thu.: Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson leads a discussion on Detroit’s past, present and future with Sheila Cockrel, a former Detroit City councilmember and founder and CEO of Crossroads Consulting; Ike McKinnon, former Detroit police chief and associate professor of education at the University of Detroit Mercy; the Rev. Alvin Herring, director of racial equity and community engagement at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Lauren Hood, executive director of Live6; Bill McGraw, a coproducer on the film, writer with Bridge Magazine and longtime Detroit journalist; and Brian Kaufman, director of “12th and Clairmount” and executive video editor at the Detroit Free Press.



Sat.: A screening hosted by WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) will feature 7 Action News anchors Glenda Lewis and Dave LewAllen leading a post-film discussion.



Sun.: A screening hosted by Bridge Magazine will feature Chastity Pratt Dawsey leading a post-film discussion that will include author and historian Ken Coleman, Kaufman and McGraw.

‘The 24 Hour War’

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.

2016. 1 hour, 39 minutes. Directed by Nate Adams and Adam Carolla.

8 p.m. Fri., March 31, Emagine Royal Oak.
Noon. Sat., April 1, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

After the film: After both screenings, Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan talks to co-director Nate Adams.

‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

After the film: On Saturday, Detroit Free Press personal finance columnist Susan Tompor leads a discussion on the financial crisis and community banking that will include Shoeb Sharieff, founder of Ijara Community Development Corp.; Chase Cantrell, executive director of Building Community Value Detroit; and Lorray Brown, director of the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Project.

“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.

5 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Novi.
2:30 p.m. Sun., April 2, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

‘Citizen Jane: Battle for the City’

In 1960, Jane Jacobs’ book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds, with its exploration of the consequences of modern planners’ and architects’ reconfiguration of cities. Jacobs was also an activist involved in many fights in mid-century New York to stop so-called master builder Robert Moses from running roughshod over the city. “Citizen Jane” retraces the battles for the city as personified by Jacobs and Moses, as urbanization moves to the very front of the global agenda. The film sets out to examine the city of today through the lens of one of its greatest champions – a voice who remains influential to this day, including in Detroit, where her strategies have been mined in recent years for some of the city’s highest-profile redevelopment projects.

2016. 1 hour, 32 minutes. Directed by Matt Tyrnauer. Michigan premiere.

8 p.m. Sat., April 1, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

After the film: Detroit Free Press business columnist John Gallagher leads a discussion that will include Maggie DeSantis, Initiative Manager with “Building the Engine of Community Development in Detroit,” and Community Development Advocates of Detroit Executive Director Sarida Scott .

‘A Closer Look at Flint: Shorts Program #3’

After the film: Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer leads a discussion with the shorts’ directors including Zack Canepari, Elise Conklin and the Free Press’ Ryan Garza.

A selection of Flint-themed documentary shorts, including several from the ongoing multimedia project “Flint is a Place.”


“From Flint: Voices from a Poisoned City”: Winner of a national Student Academy Award, this documentary by Michigan State University student Elise Conklin that tells the story of the Flint Water Crisis from the perspectives of those who lived it.



“Flint: An American Nightmare”: The ongoing Flint water crisis has taken a toll on residents of this iconic Michigan city, who have been living with lead-tainted tap water. The film about living in Flint, where many residents still can’t drink the water, is directed by Detroit Free Press’ Brian Kaufman in collaboration with Free Press photographer Ryan Garza.



“Flint is a Place”: This series of short films is part of a cross platform episodic documentary series about Flint created by the director of “T-Rex,” Zackary Canepari. Three shorts within the program include the story of Claressa Shields’ sister, Briana; a look at the water crisis; and a post “T-Rex” follow-up on Claressa Shields. A related multimedia exhibit will be housed in the Crystal Gallery at the DIA throughout the festival weekend.



12:30 p.m. Sun., April 2, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

‘Connections and Identity: Shorts Program #4’

A selection of documentary shorts focused on people searching for personal connections and self-identity. Titles include:


“Palisades”: John met Julie in Palisades Park, Michigan. After seeing her reaction to a personal loss, he realized he loved her.


“Off Season”: Detroit Tiger pitcher Daniel Norris spends the off season with Shaggy, his 1978 VW van. The film is directed by Michigan native Ben Moon.


“Another Ride”: Iustin Stafie, a 24- year-old car collector, and his 82-year-old grandfather take their 43-year-old Romanian made Dacia 1300 to a retro car parade instead of the scrapyard, where most old cars of its kind go to die.


“Hijabi World”: In a time of escalating Islamophobia, a group of young women are pushing back, demanding that we look past their head coverings to understand who they really are.


“A Continuing Series of Small Indignities”: 59-year-old Rodney Harris recounts his personal history dealing with a lifetime of racism. The film is directed by Michigan filmmaker Michael Pfaendtner, co-director of the “The Goat Yard,” which premiered at the 2016 Freep Film Festival.


“Denali”: Michigan native Ben Moon and his dog, Denali, have shared plenty of good times, but the short film looks at Ben’s battle with cancer, a dog’s unwavering loyalty and a final goodbye to man’s best friend.


78 minutes.

After the program: A discussion with some of the films’ directors.

‘Dinner in Abruzzo: A Journey Home with My Culinary Godfather’

Take a culinary journey to the real Italy with two of the Detroit area’s best chefs. James Rigato and his culinary godfather Luciano Del Signore travel to Luciano’s parents’ hometown in Abruzzo, Italy, to attend Luciano’s cousin’s wedding and to seriously cook for much of his Italian family for the first time. Rigato, an Italian-American, has never been to Italy before and learns a lot about his mentor and his own heritage in one whirlwind cooking adventure.


This short film by Detroit Free Press restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik will be followed by an in-depth conversation between Kurlyandchik, Rigato (Mabel Gray, the Root) and Del Signore (Bigalora, Bacco Ristorante). They’ll discuss the trip, the film, the Detroit restaurant scene and more.


2017. Approximately 30 minutes. Directed by Mark Kurlyandchik. World premiere.


12:30 p.m. Sun., April 2, Cinema Detroit.

2 p.m. Sun., April 2, Wayne State University Welcome Center Auditorium


After the film: On Sunday, Detroit Free Press staff writer Niraj Warikoo leads a conversation on Huerta’s work and the challenges migrant farmworkers face with Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, community relations director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Delia Fernandez, assistant professor of history at Michigan State University.

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.


8 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Novi.
5 p.m. Sun., April 2, Cinema Detroit.

‘Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future’

After the films: Conversations with Eric Saarinen, the film’s coproducer, director of photography and Eero Saarinen’s son, led by Detroit Free Press business columnist John Gallagher on Friday and Joe Posch, owner of the Detroit-based retail store Hugh, on Saturday.

“Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future” explores the life and visionary work of Finnish-American modernist architectural giant Eero Saarinen (1910-1961). Best known for designing National Historic Landmarks such as St. Louis’ iconic Gateway Arch and the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Saarinen also designed New York’s TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Yale University’s Ingalls Rink, Virginia’s Dulles Airport and modernist pedestal furniture like the Tulip chair. Saarinen spent much of his life based at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills before his sudden death at age 51 cut short one of the most influential careers in American architecture. The exploration of his professional output is interwoven with stories from his sometimes difficult family life, particularly through the eyes of his son Eric Saarinen, who is the film’s director of photography.


2016. 1 hour, 10 minutes. Directed by Peter Rosen.


5 p.m. Fri., March 31, Detroit Historical Museum.
1 p.m. Sat., April 1, Cinema Detroit.

‘The Ethanol Effect’

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.


6 p.m. Fri., March 31, Emagine Novi.

After the film: Lester Graham, reporter for Michigan Radio and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, interviews director Bill Kubota.

‘Field Guide to Sponsored Films’

After the film: Longtime Detroit arts and culture journalist Rob St. Mary interviews Jeff Lambert, executive director, National Film Preservation Foundation.

Self-described meta-archivist Rick Prelinger has spent years collecting, cataloguing and digitizing tens of thousands of ephemeral films that span the spectrum of genre and purpose but together speak volumes about America through its audio-visual past. San Francisco-based Prelinger has become something of a fixture on the Detroit scene in recent years, visiting the city with archival projects such as “No More Road Trips!” and “Lost Landscapes.” This latest program draws on his book “The Field Guide to Sponsored Films,” which details 465 U.S. films “made to sell, train, promote, advocate and convince.” On the occasion of their partial release for free and unlimited use by the National Film Preservation Foundation in partnership with the Library of Congress, Prelinger Archives, the Internet Archive, and other archives around the country, this program features a handful of entertaining selections from that trove. It arrives in Detroit just following its premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco.


2017. 1 hour, 30 minutes. Michigan premiere.


8 p.m. Sat., April 1, Cinema Detroit.

‘Finally Got the News’

After the film: Juanita Anderson, head of Media Arts and Studies at Wayne State University, leads a discussion with Mike Hamlin, a founding member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; Marian Kramer Baker, longtime community activist and president of the National Welfare Rights Union; and Gregory Hicks, a founder of the Black Student United Front.

Made in 1970, the archival documentary “Finally Got the News” is a forceful look into the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit. Through interviews with members of the movement, footage shot in the auto plants, and footage of leafleting and picketing actions, the film documents their efforts to build an independent black labor organization that, unlike the UAW, will respond to worker’s problems, such as the assembly line speed-up and inadequate wages faced by both black and white workers in the industry. It also focuses on the crucial role played by the black worker in the American economy, the educational tracking system for both white and black youth, the role of African American women in the labor force, and relations between white and black workers.


1970. 55 minutes. Directed by Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman and Peter Gessner.


7 p.m. Fri., March 31, Detroit Historical Museum.

‘The Force’

After the film: On Saturday, Free Press staff writer Christina Hall leads a discussion on police and community relations that will include Robert Dunlap, chief of jails/courts at Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and Robert Thornton, senior program officer with the Skillman Foundation and Mark Fancher, staff attorney for the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Michigan.

“The Force” presents a cinema vérité look deep inside the long-troubled Oakland Police Department as it struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson and an explosive scandal. A young chief, hailed as a reformer, is brought in to complete the turnaround at the very moment the #BlackLivesMatter movement emerges to demand police accountability and racial justice both in Oakland and across the nation. Meanwhile, out on the street, the camera gets up close as rookie and veteran officers alike face an increasingly hostile public where dueling narratives surround each use of force. But just as the department is on the verge of a breakthrough, the man charged with turning the department around faces the greatest challenge of his career one that could threaten not only the progress that has been made, but the authority of the institution itself. Debuting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “The Force” landed the fest’s U.S documentary directing award for Peter Nicks.


2017. 1 hour, 20 minutes. Directed by Peter Nicks. Michigan premiere.


7 p.m. Fri., March 31, Cinema Detroit.
5:30 p.m. Sat., April 1, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

‘From Detroit with Love: Shorts Program #1’

A selection of Detroit-themed shorts, all documentaries unless noted. Films include:


“Promised Land”: A Sudanese family is given a new home in Detroit. But how do you survive in a land you don’t understand?


“Change in the City”: The conversation about Detroit and change can mean different things to different people. Traveling chef and writer Tunde Wey visits three cities – Detroit, Philadelphia and New Orleans – to talk to people on the front lines of urban change, and find out what’s going on in their communities.


“A Poem of Glass and Steel”: Detroit filmmaker Ryan Clancy explores the largest collection of Mies van der Rohe-designed homes in the world, Detroit’s Lafayette Park.


“Pedal to Porch”: This film looks at a program where community members are encouraged to ride bikes around to meet their neighbors and learn about the history of their neighborhoods.

“American Prophet”: Directed by Detroit filmmaker Jasmine Rivera, this narrative, historic docudrama set in 1968 tells the story of real-life Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who as a young man is suddenly appointed to a position of great authority – and whose leadership must guide a community in a time of great upheaval and social change.


5 p.m. Fri., March 31, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. 
2 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Novi. 

After the program: A discussion with some of the films’ directors.

Isle Royale double feature

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. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/145996572

“Fifty Lakes One Island”: 2013. Directed by George Desort. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/65789369

6 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Royal Oak.
Noon Sun., April 2, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

After the films: Q&As with “Predator/Prey” director Brian Kaufman led by Free Press staff writer John Wisely on Saturday, and Amy Haimerl, an author who covers small business for the New York Times and teaches journalism at Michigan State University, on Sunday.

‘Last Men Standing’

After the film: Between the Lines co-publisher Jan Stevenson interviews co-directors Erin Brethauer and Tim Hussin and Clarence Peeples, prevention specialist at Unified – HIV Health and Beyond.

Rich and distinguished stories unfold among the lives of long-term survivors who have learned how to celebrate, heal, love and thrive after the devastation of the early AIDS crisis. In this cathartic and intimate documentary, eight men look back on their experiences and then toward the future with the strength and resiliency they have cultivated over the past 30 years. Produced by the San Francisco Chronicle, the film was booked as part of Freep Film Festival’s outreach to other traditional media who, like the Free Press, are producing feature-length documentaries.

2015. 1 hour, 5 minutes. Directed by Erin Brethauer and Tim Hussin. Michigan premiere.

3 p.m. Sat., April 1, Cinema Detroit.

‘Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes’

“Making Waves” takes viewers below the surface of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem and into the middle of a complex war for survival. For more than a century, non-native species of plants, fish, invertebrates and microscopic organisms have been silently invading the Great Lakes, leaving devastation in their wake. Invasive species like Asian carp, zebra mussels and more are transforming the ecosystem from top to bottom, pushing some native species to the brink of extinction, and costing the region hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Narrated by Bill Kurtis, “Making Waves” traces the path of the invasion and joins researchers on the front lines as they combat invasive species and work to restore native species, in an effort to prevent a biological takeover of the Great Lakes.

2016. 1 hour, 50 minutes. Directed by Brendan Walsh (DP) and Jessica Walsh. Metro Detroit premiere.

3 p.m. Sun., April 2, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

After the film: Detroit Free Press’ Great Lakes and environmental writer Keith Matheny talks to co-directors Jessica Walsh and Brendan Walsh and Randall Claramunt, Lake Huron basin coordinator at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

‘Meet Me At The Lindell: The Story of America’s First Sports Bar’

After the films: On Friday, the Free Press’ Jim Schaefer interviews director Jason Danielewicz. On Saturday, retired longtime Free Press sports editor Gene Myers interviews director Danielewicz and Terry Foster, co-host of “Valenti and Foster” on 97.1 The Ticket.

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. World premiere.


Will be shown with “Off Season,” a documentary short featuring Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris.


5 p.m. Fri.., March 31, Cinema Detroit.
1 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Royal Oak.

‘Milwaukee 53206’

“Milwaukee 53206” tells the story of those affected by mass incarceration in America’s most incarcerated ZIP code. Through the powerful journeys of Beverly Walker, Dennis Walton and Chad Wilson, viewers witness how incarceration has shaped their lives, their families and their community. The film examines how decades of poverty, unemployment and a lack of opportunity has contributed to the crisis of mass incarceration in this community and others across the nation. The movie is directed by former Saginaw resident Keith McQuirter, who first made a name on the film scene as a producer of “Brick City,” the documentary series about then Newark mayor Cory Booker.


Sponsored by Regenerate Detroit, founded by DeAndre Levy.

2016. 55 minutes. Directed by Keith McQuirter. Michigan premiere.


3 p.m. Sat., April 1, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.


Trailer: https://vimeo.com/180648049

After the film: Free Press staff writer Katrease Stafford leads a discussion that will include Keith McQuirter, director of “Milwaukee 53206”; Beverly Walker, a subject of the film; and state Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor and Joseph Williams, executive director of the Correctional Ministries and Chaplains Association.

‘On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone’

After the film: Mike White, host of “The Projection Booth” podcast, interviews director Michael Rubenstone.

University of Michigan graduate Michael Rubenstone, a first-time filmmaker and Sly and the Family Stone super fan, sets out to find the band’s leader: the reclusive funk legend Sly Stone. In doing so, he makes the most comprehensive documentary on the band to date, while also bringing Sly out of hiding for the first time since his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993. A world premiere at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, “On the Sly” is part road movie, part rock doc, and follows Rubenstone over the course of 10 years as he travels across the U.S. unearthing the true story of the band and chronicling how a musical icon fell from grace. But will he ever get the chance to meet his hero? Is he still the man he set out to find in the first place? Hit the road and join the search!


2017. 1 hour, 47 minutes. Directed by Michael Rubenstone. Michigan premiere.


5:30 p.m. Sat., April 1, Cinema Detroit. 

‘Skips Stones for Fudge’

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.


1 p.m. Sun., April 2, Emagine Novi.


Trailer: https://vimeo.com/148583658

‘Spaces and Places: Shorts Program #2’

After the program: A discussion with some of the films’ directors.

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


“Rabbit Island”: Nestled in the Keweenaw Baw of Lake Superior sits Rabbit Island: 91 acres of rocks, earth, trees and wild habitat. This film is a brief study of an island located in majestic Lake Superior, and the artists who gather there for inspiration.


“Being Hear”: Head into the forest with Emmy-Award winning nature sound recordist and acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, who works to protect the few remaining quiet places on Earth from noise pollution. “Being Hear” highlights his quest to preserve silence and the importance of listening to the world around us.


“Shipping Home”: One year, $100,000 and a dream to build a home out of a shipping container. The film was co-directed by Calvin College associate professor Samuel Smartt.


“Great Lakes, Bad Lines”: Enbridge Line 5, a Canadian-owned oil pipeline that stretches across more than 500 miles and through Michigan’s Great Lakes is 60 years old. Experts say it needs repair to avoid a potential environmental catastrophe.


“Paulding Light”: For half a century, the legend of the Paulding Light a mysterious glow that appears in the woods in the Upper Peninsula beckons curiosity seekers, believers and skeptics to the tiny town of Paulding.


70 minutes.


3 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Royal Oak.

‘Strike a Pose’

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 selfproclaimed 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.


7:30 p.m. Sat., April 1, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
4 p.m. Sun., April 2, Emagine Royal Oak.


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hqh7lwaNKw

After the films: On Saturday, Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza, a dancer and choreographer featured in the film, talks to the Free Press’ Ashley Woods, and demonstrates Voguing. On Sunday, he chats with Free Press style columnist Georgea Kovanis.

‘Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities’

After the film on Friday: Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley hosts a conversation.

Spanning 170 years of American history, this 90-minute documentary film and multi-platform project by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson (“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”) explores the pivotal role HBCUs have played in the ascent of African-Americans and their families – from slavery to the present day. The film also examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity.


2017. 1 hour, 30 minutes. Directed by Stanley Nelson. Michigan premiere.


7:30 p.m. Fri., March 31, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
10 a.m. Sat., April 1, Detroit Historical Museum.

‘Tickling Giants’

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.


8 p.m. Fri., March 31, Emagine Novi.
4 p.m. Sat., April 1, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVwUrbGcxZ4

After the film: On Friday, journalist and Write a House resident Liana Aghajanian interviews Amer Zahr, comedian and University of Detroit Mercy adjunct law professor.


After the film: Toby Barlow leads a discussion on Detroit’s urban farming and community gardening movement.

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 hardtoiling 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.


5 p.m. Fri., March 31, Emagine Royal Oak.


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUN0QxRB7e0

‘Two Trains Runnin’

“Two Trains Runnin’ ” is a feature-length doc directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard, narrated by Common, and featuring the music of Gary Clark Jr. Set primarily in Mississippi against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Summer, it follows two groups of young men who are searching for pioneering blues musicians who may be lost to history. A phone call to Detroit plays a key role in locating Son House, the expressive singer-guitarist who later in his life would move to the Motor City – and go on to influence a wide variety of rockers, including Jack White. The film pays tribute to a pioneering generation of musicians while placing their times in broader historical context, offering a crucial vantage from which to view the evolving dynamics of race in America.


2016. 1 hour, 20 minutes. Directed by Samuel D. Pollard. Metro Detroit premiere.


7:30 p.m. Fri., March 31, Third Man Records.


Trailer: https://vimeo.com/121266222

After the film: A performance by Detroit folk-blues musician Danny Kroha.

‘Uncle Jessie White – Portrait of a Delta Blues Man in Detroit’

Before the film: At 9 p.m., a performance by Detroit blues-rock act Jeff Grand and the Grandmasters in the lobby of Cinema Detroit.


After the film: Detroit Free Press pop music critic Brian McCollum leads a discussion that will include Anne Marie Graham-Hudak, the film’s co-producer and co-director.

“Uncle Jessie White – Portrait of a Delta Bluesman in Detroit” tells the story of the late Jessie White, an influential blues artist who had a profound effect on multiple generations of musicians in the Detroit region. An allegory of survival and redemption this film traces Jessie White’s story from his impoverished rural youth in Mississippi to his migration to Detroit where his charismatic personality and musical integrity kept the spirit of the original Delta blues alive during some of Detroit’s darkest days.


2016. 57 minutes. Directed by Anne Marie Graham-Hudak and Stashu Kybartas.


9:30 p.m. Fri., March 31, Cinema Detroit.

‘White Boy’

“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.


8 p.m. Fri., March 31, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
8:30 p.m. Sat., April 1, Emagine Royal Oak.
3 p.m. Sun., April 2, Emagine Novi.


Trailer: https://vimeo.com/206629629

After the films:

On Friday, Detroit Free Press staff writer Elisha Anderson leads a conversation with “White Boy” director Christopher S. Rech, Chris Hansen and Johnny Curry, who are in the film, and Scott Burnstein, the film’s coproducer and Rick Wershe’s biographer, who is also in the film.


On Saturday, Detroit Free Press city editor Carlton Winfrey leads a conversation with Rech and Burnstein.


On Sunday, Anderson leads a discussion with Rech, Wershe’s attorney Ralph Musilli and Joe Swickard, retired Free Press reporter who focused on criminal justice and major crimes.