About this program

The new Real Fresh showcase and competition is spotlighting the work of student documentary filmmakers from Michigan State University, Oakland University, University of Michigan, University of Windsor and Wayne State University. Faculty representatives from each of the five schools nominated a total of 26 student films. From that group, a Freep Film Festival jury chose these 10 shorts as representing some of the best documentary work from our region’s colleges.

The program features a wide range of filmmaking styles and topics. The winning films are:

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Sept. 24, 2021
4:00 p.m.

Sept. 22-29, 2021


‘Canvassing the Soul’ 

This film delves into the life of a woman who has had a passion for painting for over 50 years, taking viewers through her artistic journey and inspirations as a painter. Director: Sara Grabauskas, School: University of Windsor

‘Every Color at Once’ 

Growing up in a predominantly white community, a Black muralist from Grand Rapids reflects on her relationship with self-portraiture.  Director: Caleb Phillip James, School: University of Michigan, Other credits: Anya Potter, writer

‘Connecting Kin’ 

This documentary follows a woman named Jaimie who is in search of her biological family. Director: Olivia York, School: Michigan State University, Other credits: Humaira Newaz, camera and sound


Seif-Eldeen Saqallah is a law student at University of Michigan. Although he has a disability, he does not let it get in the way of his blessings and his positive view on life. Director: Brielle Bonetti, School: University of Michigan, Other credits: Ben Catlin, director of photography and associate editor


This short documentary connects past and present racism in American private schools. Director: Caleb Joye, School: Wayne State University

‘Beauty in Decay’ 

Detroit farmer and Detroit Garden and Compost founder Parker Jean walks us through the beauty and importance of gardening and composting. Director: Min Li, School: Wayne State University

‘Small Town Syndrome’ 

This short, personal essay film explores the impact of growing up in a small town located on Lake Michigan. Director: Max Folino, School: Oakland University


A man attempts to balance his life as he ponders diet, weight and happiness. Directors: Barret Baxter and Patrick Butcher, School: Michigan State University

‘Miracle Whip’ 

This experimental film explores the pressures of societal status, self-value and self-worth. Director: Jerod Willis, School: Wayne State University

‘Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good’ 

Four young women open up about their struggles with self-image. Director: Carolina Gama Di Grado, School: University of Windsor