Detroit’s film aficionados can prepare for four days of movies with the Freep Film Festival (FFF). From March 31-April 3 critically acclaimed films will run before the eyes of those who truly consider the cinema an art form.
Now in its third year, the success from the previous two festivals has allowed for expansion of the event. This year there are double the number of showings, which makes for an impressive 40 films. Of those 40, 18 are world or local premieres.
With the growth of movies shown, there is also expansion of locations. The festival will now be held at Emagine Theatres Royal Oak, Third Man Records, Detroit Historical Museum and Red Bull House of Art, in addition to returning venue partners the Detroit Film Theatre at Detroit Institute of Arts, The Fillmore and Cinema Detroit.
“The Freep Film Festival’s emphasis on films that have a strong tie to Michigan and/or Detroit set the Festival apart from others in Michigan and throughout the country. The films will showcase the best and most intriguing elements of our residents, our city or our state,” says Steve Byrne, executive director of the FFF. “This year, we are thrilled to present even more award-winning films that will enthrall audiences and spur meaningful discussion through inspiring stories and mesmerizing cinematography.”
For the true cinemaphiles there is a chance to get a look at the inside of the film. After each movie the is a panel with directors, and others who worked on the film to find out the origins and what went into their project.
Key highlights from this year’s lineup include:
- “Fatman on Batman” – Famed film writer/director and podcaster Kevin Smith will open the FFF with a stand-up performance and will “talk about all the news in movie make-believe, terrific TV and anything that squeaks in geek!” The conversation will include podcast co-host comic book writer Marc Bernardin.The “Fatman on Batman” event is the week after the opening of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
- “Isle Royale Double Feature” –Two films show off Isle Royal. “Fifty Lakes One Island” and “Predator/Prey: The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves” give us more than a glimpse of a land with 50 lakes ruled by the relationship between moose and wolves. All that and the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem are explored by one man in these two documentaries.
- “Land Grab” – This is a look at the political maneuvering of the Hantz Woodlands project on the east side of Detroit. The documentary looks at how a dilapidated neighborhood became a tree farm, all of which happened among the area’s divided citizens and a skeptical business man.
- “T-Rex” – This focuses on boxer and Flint native, Claressa (T-Rex) Shields. It is not only a look at her fight for the championship, that she became the first American woman to win the gold in boxing, but also how she has tried to lift her family out of poverty. The documentary will make its Metro Detroit premiere at the FFF opening night.
- “Requiem for a Running Back” – In another world premiere, this film explores the debate over concussions in football through the story of world championship running back and former Detroit Lions player Lewis Carpenter. The director (Lewis’ daughter) conducts a personal investigation into how chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) could have impacted Carpenter’s depression, forgetfulness and temper.
A student documentary will be shown just before the whole festival starts. The film presented will be the winner of votes recently tallied online. There were 10 films in all up for the honor.
There will be several podcasts in attendance for their listeners. A full list is located here.
In addition to the new films and premieres, those who missed last year’s opening night Fire + Water double feature, “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” and “Fire Photo -> 1,” have the opportunity to see a special screening at this year’s Festival. From the shipwrecks of the Great Lakes to the fires plaguing Detroit, the films – produced by the Detroit Free Press’ Emmy-winning video team – will give you a new look at how these opposing elements have made an impact on our state.
Details about the festival can be found at freepfilmfestival.com or freep.com. For a complete list of films click here. You can also follow the Festival on Twitter, @freep_film_fest and on Facebook, facebook.com/freepfilmfest.