Festival FAQ

Q: When is the 2021 festival happening?

A: We’ve moved to fall in 2021. Our dates are Sept. 22-26.

Q: When will the festival reveal its film lineup and other programming?

A: A couple events have already been announced. Our full film lineup will be revealed Aug. 11. Tickets will go on sale Aug. 19.

Q: Where is the 2021 festival happening?

A: The festival will feature a mix of indoor, outdoor and at-home virtual screenings. Many of our past venues are participating, as are several new ones. We’ll be announcing the full list soon.

The past festival footprint — centered in greater downtown Detroit, with other locations sprinkled throughout metro Detroit — will remain the same.

Q: Freep Film Festival has always been in the spring. Why did it move to fall in 2021?

A: There are a variety of reasons. In the big picture, we felt that for 2021, September provides the best opportunity to present the vibrant, in-person festival that our attendees have come to expect.

Q: With the festival moving to September, are other changes envisioned?

A: In most ways, the festival will look similar to previous editions. Expect the best in documentaries – many with strong local connections. Lots of conversation about the films and the issues they raise, informed by Free Press journalism. There also will be a mix of parties, free educational events and other stuff. The festival team is committed to creating the sort of festival environment you know and love. The film lineup will be larger than the virtual festival(s) we presented in 2020, but not quite as big as it was in 2019.

Q: What precautions is the festival taking in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A. Freep Film Festival organizers expect to require vaccination cards and mask-wearing at all indoor events, and are now working through the implementation of those protocols with the festival’s venue partners.

The precautions are being planned due to the recent surge of COVID-19 infections associated with the Delta variant.

Festival staff plan to check vaccination cards upon admission for indoor events. A negative COVID test in the previous 72 hours would also be accepted, under the current plans. Masks will be required inside, except while eating or drinking.

“We think the mask and vaccination requirements at our indoor events will create the safest possible environment for our guests, venue partners, visiting filmmakers, volunteers and the festival team,” said Steve Byrne, the festival’s executive director. “We respect that people have different comfort levels in relation to pandemic protocols, and this is not a decision we came to lightly.”

More details will be announced as protocols are finalized with venue partners.

The festival will also host a number of outdoor screenings. Currently, the festival does not plan to require vaccination proof or masks at the outdoor events.

Freep Film Festival is also enacting several other changes designed to minimize pandemic-associated risks:

  • Tickets for most of the festival’s events will be sold only in advance, eliminating the person-to-person interaction necessary for walk-up sales. This will also reduce the need for standing in line.
  • The festival’s two largest venues, including the Redford Theatre and the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, will be at significantly reduced capacity.
  • Multiple outdoor screenings have been scheduled for the first time in the festival’s eight-year history.

Q: Are there other things to know about the festival in relation to pandemic?

We’ve worked hard to create a structure that will serve patrons who have a range of comfort levels. That’s why we’ll be indoors, outdoors and also streaming virtually.

In addition, some of our biggest venues will be limiting capacity, which will keep crowd sizes down.

We’ve also eliminated walk-up sales this year — meaning ticket sales are in advance only. That will make social distancing easier.

Q: What’s the deal with no walk-up ticket sales?

In order to limit crowded entryways and close person-to-person contact, we are not offering walk-up ticket sales this year. We will keep online ticket sales open until one hour prior the scheduled showtime. We’ll also be communicating to via social media if last-minute tickets are available for online purchase.

Q: Will the full film lineup be available for both in-person and virtual screenings?

A: Most films will receive at least one in-person screening. Most films will be available virtually. There may be a few exceptions.

Q: Is there anything I should know about virtual screenings?

A: Yes. Some films will be viewable at home only if you’re watching in the state of Michigan.

Why? We do our best to partner with filmmakers who bring their documentaries to our festival. In some cases, they prefer that access is limited to the festival’s footprint. This allows them more flexibility to take their movie to other festivals around the country — or pursue a wide variety of distribution opportunities.

In short, it helps preserve the film’s audience for the filmmaker. We think that’s a good thing.

Q: I’m interested in streaming films from home. How does it work?

A: This step-by-step guide should answer all your questions — including how to buy tickets and how to access the films.

Q: What happens to the tickets I bought to the 2020 screening of “Grosse Pointe Blank” featuring an appearance by star John Cusack?

A: This event, which had been rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, is now canceled. If you purchased tickets via AXS online or phone, a refund will be automatically be issues to the credit card you used to purchase within 30 business days. Otherwise, refunds are available at your original point of purchase. If you have any questions, please address them to customerservice@themasonic.com.

If you were planning to attend as part of a festival VIP pass, Freep Film Festival will be in touch with you shortly.

Q: Is it possible to volunteer for the festival?

Yes! And we much appreciate you asking. We will open up registration in the middle of August for volunteers. We are looking for people who are friendly, enjoy answering a lot of questions and dig what the festival has to offer. Each shift will range from 3-4 hours, and we request that our volunteer can make time for at least two shifts. Volunteers will receive free access to a film screening for each shift worked, along with some festival merch. Plus you’ll get to hang out with your fellow film lovers!

Q: I purchased a pass for the April 2020 festival. Is it still good?

A: Yes, we will honor all passes purchased for the April event at our 2021 festival. Please reach out with questions to operations director Caitlin Drzewiecki at CDrzewieck@Michigan.com.

Q: I purchased a VIP pass for the 2020 festival. Will it still include the same extra benefits in 2021?

A: VIP passholders will receive a VIP ticket to Opening Night (Sept. 22 at the Redford Theatre), a ticket to the John Cusack “Grosse Pointe Blank” screening on Sept. 25, and a ticket to the filmmaker party on festival weekend. Other VIP events may be added. Please reach out with questions to operations director Caitlin Drzewiecki at CDrzewieck@Michigan.com.

Q: Where can I keep up with updates as they are announced?

A: All of our news will be gathered at freepfilmfestival.com. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additionally, you can sign up for our email newsletter on the home page of this website.

Q: I have a film that might be a fit for the 2021 festival. How should I submit?

A: Our window for 2021 consideration is closed. But we’ll be booking our 2022 festival soon, and we’d love to hear about your film – but only if it’s a documentary, and especially if it has connections to Detroit or Michigan. Email us at freepfilmfestival@freepress.com.

Q: Are sponsorship and partnership opportunities available?

A: Definitely. We’d love to talk. Email festival executive director Steve Byrne at spbyrne@freepress.com.

Q: I have further questions. Whom should I contact?

A: Email us at freepfilmfestival@freepress.com, and we’ll get back to you.

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