About this film

Boblo Island, one of America’s earliest amusement parks, sparked the imaginations of Detroiters for decades. Passengers by the thousands reached the island by way of two steamships, SS Columbia and Ste. Claire. In 1993 Boblo Island shut down, and the boats were left to ruin. Mirroring Detroit’s decline and efforts at resurgence, two teams of people doggedly attempt to restore these iconic vessels and save them from the scrapyard. We meet the New York-based nonprofit resurrecting SS Columbia into a traveling museum destined for the Hudson River, while the Ste. Claire’s fate rests in the hands of an unlikely band of heroes: a doctor, a psychic and an amusement park fanatic. Narrated by Motown legend Martha Reeves, the documentary explores the Boblo Boats’ colorful history but doesn’t shy away from politically contentious episodes, specifically concerning race and income inequality. World premiere.

At-home viewing: This film is available for streaming in Michigan only.
Note: The Sat., Sept. 25, screening of “Alumination” at the Chroma is scheduled to be outdoors. The screening will move inside in the case of bad weather.

After the film

On Wednesday, Free Press Senior Editor Jim Schaefer talks with director Aaron Schillinger, Eastside Community Network Chief Operating Officer Angela Brown Wilson, SS Columbia Project Co-chair Ian Danic, Ste. Claire Restoration Project Manager Stephen Faraj and John Belko, who co-owned the Ste. Claire from 2001 to 2006. Before the film on Saturday, Free Press Business Writer Chanel Stitt talks with Schillinger.
Buy Tickets



The Redford Theatre

Sept. 22, 2021

VIP reception

Doors at 6 p.m.

General admission:
Doors at 7 p.m.

Program begins:
7:30 p.m.

The Chroma
Sept. 25, 2021
Program begins 8 p.m.

Outdoor screening if weather permits

Sept. 22-29, 2021


Redford Theatre


Aaron Schillinger

Aaron Schillinger

Creative director:
Joe Flinders

Original score:
Myles Rodenhouse

Bec Sloane and Taylor Stanton

Steve Bannatyne, Isabel Sandoval, Pete Monro, Matthew Peach

Story editing:
Jason Wehling and David Fabelo

Martha Reeves

Production company:
Baby Volcano Films in association with Lucky Hat Entertainment


1 hour, 18 minutes