‘Detroit Industry and the Ford Motor Company Motion Picture Laboratory’

‘Detroit Industry and the Ford Motor Company Motion Picture Laboratory’

Screens at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 21 at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Tickets are $10, $9 for DIA members and seniors.

Mexican artist Diego Rivera, accompanied by Frida Kahlo, spent nearly a year at the Detroit Institute of Arts working on “Detroit Industry,” the courtyard murals that would become the museum’s centerpiece. This two-hour program of rare silent film footage — most of which has never been screened publicly — has been edited down from nearly four hours of 35mm reels shot by the Ford Motor Company Motion Pictures Laboratory on several visits between 1932 and 1933.

This invaluable document shows Rivera’s process start to finish, from working with assistants to mix plaster and grind paint to building complex scaffolding on which he would be perched, painting for months. Most revealing are the casual moments between Rivera and wife Kahlo, who suffered serious health issues around this time and also came into her own as an artist. Footage shot outside the museum is sprinkled into the program, providing a charming look at daily life in the Motor City 80 years ago. The footage will be presented with live musical accompaniment by pianist David Drazin.

AFTER THE FILM: A post-film chat hosted by Free Press arts writer Mark Stryker will also include Hubert Massey, the Detroit-based muralist who has mastered the buon fresco technique that Rivera used.

Year: 1932-33   Minutes: Approximately 2 hours   Rating: Not rated; suitable for all   Production Company: Ford Motor Co. Photographic and Film Department