We invite you to join us for the 2019 Freep Film Festival, This is our 5th year with FFF.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

Click on the film title or showtime in each individual listing to buy tickets, or buy festival passes here.

For ticketing questions, please email freepfilmfestival@freepress.com.

Thursday, April 11

All Together Now: Shorts Program 3
4:00 p.m.

The shorts in this program examine the notions of community and identity — and the continuation of both over time.
Not rated | Running time 1 hour 15 minutes

Church Militant — Just outside Detroit, a group of radical Catholics run a rapidly growing news organization. 13 minutes.

With Love from Idlewild — Detroit filmmaker Tinisha Brugnone takes a personal journey through Idlewild, the rural resort town known as the “Black Eden of Michigan.” 17 minutes.

Yooper Bars — Free Press reporters memorialize a final father-son trip that led to a book about 109 U.P. bars and the eccentric patrons who define them. 6 minutes.

Speaking Sicilianu — Detroiter Nina Misuraca Ignaczak explores the predicament of Sicilians and Sicilian Americans attempting to preserve their language while assimilating within a globalized world. 29 minutes.

Brotherhood of Skiing — Since 1973, the National Brotherhood of Skiers, dedicated to creating a welcoming space for people of color on the slopes and supporting black youth in snow sports, has overcome barriers by bringing soul, smiles and a party to the mountain. 10 minutes.

Hail Satan?
6:30 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 36 minutes

Director Penny Lane’s devilishly entertaining film traces the rise of The Satanic Temple, one of the most controversial religious movements in American history. The Temple and its enigmatic leader Lucien Greaves are calling for a Satanic revolution to save the nation’s soul. In just six years, the Temple has attracted more than 100,000 believers — including a sizable cadre in Detroit, which figures prominently in the film. But are they for real?

Discussion: Following the show, Free Press Columnist Nancy Kaffer talks to film subjects Jex Blackmore and Hollow Axis.

Live From the Astroturf, Alice Cooper
9:00 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 58 minutes

In October 2015, Detroit rocker Alice Cooper reunited with the surviving members of his original band, thanks to the efforts of superfan and Dallas-based Good Records store owner Chris Penn, who convinced the group to perform a secret gig on the store’s pinkastroturf-covered stage. Cooper, bassist Dennis Dunaway, guitarist Michael Bruce and drummer Neal Smith — plus Ryan Roxie, a member of Cooper’s current band, who stepped in for original member Glen Buxton, who died in 1997 — delivered an epic performance, 40 years after originally breaking up, that was later released as a live recording for Record Store Day. The documentary Live From the Astroturf contains footage from the performance plus interviews with the participants. Michigan premiere.

Discussion: Mike White, host of The Projection Booth podcast talks to director Steven Gaddis; Good Records co-owner Chris Penn; Dennis Dunaway, bassist for the original Alice Cooper group; and Cindy Dunaway, costume artist for the group, after the screening.

Friday, April 12

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code
4:00 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 16 minutes

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand presents a provocative investigation into the “natural” disasters we’re willing to see and prepare for, the unnatural ones we’re not, and the growth industry of disaster preparedness. Her launching point is the deadly 1995 Chicago heat disaster that claimed the lives of 739 residents, primarily the elderly, African Americans, and those living in poverty. Helfand explores the links between extreme weather, extreme disparity, and the politics of “disaster,” daring to ask: What if a zip code was just a routing number, and not a life-or-death sentence?

Discussion: Candice Fortman, chief of engagement and operations at Outlier Media, talks to director Judith Helfand, producer Fenell Doremus, Jerry Hebron of Oakland Avenue Urban Farm and Robin Boyle, professor of urban planning at Wayne State University after the show.

Bathtubs Over Broadway
6:30 p.m.

PG-13 | Running time 1 hour 27 minutes

While working as a writer for the “Late Show With David Letterman,” Steve Young found a handful of old record albums that would change his life: cast recordings from a bizarre and little-known musical-theater subgenre called industrial musicals. These works, intended only for corporate audiences, were lavish, full-throated Broadway-style musical shows, financed and produced by companies such as General Electric, McDonald’s, Ford, DuPont, and Xerox to motivate their employees. The charming, slyly humorous Bathtubs Over Broadway, the first-time directorial effort from veteran editor Dava Whisenant, spotlights Young’s decades-long journey into this hidden corner of American culture, where he meets performers, composers and other enthusiasts. With David Letterman, Chita Rivera, Martin Short, Florence Henderson, Susan Stroman, Jello Biafra and more. Metro Detroit premiere. 

Q & A: Following the screening, Debra Reid, curator of agriculture and the environment at The Henry Ford, talks to filmmaker Dava Whisenant and film subject Steve Young.

The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock
9:00 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 37 minutes

Rock promoters get little credit but are essential to the music industry as we know it. Frank Barsalona — who helped skyrocket the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Bon Jovi into superstardom — is among the colorful figures featured in this fascinating history of an overlooked part of the music industry.

Discussion: After the show, author Rob St. Mary talks to co-directors Molly Bernstein and Philip Dolin and executive producer Kathy Rivkin Daum.

Saturday, April 13

Instant Dreams

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 31 minutes

Even though the company shut down in 2008, Polaroid maintains a devoted cult of followers who can’t get enough of the film that allows images to develop, as if by magic, right before our eyes. Willem Baptist’s gorgeous, affectionate documentary Instant Dreams introduces us to a quirky collection of enthusiasts who are keeping the dream alive in their own way, such as the group of fans who bought the last working Polaroid factory and the engineers trying to recreate the lost formula. We also meet an artist who takes her last original Polaroid stock to the California desert for a photo shoot; the New York editor who wrote a book about Polaroid’s history and tries to capture his relationship with his son with his instant camera; and a Japanese girl who first discovered the magic of Polaroid in Tokyo.

Smile! Detroit photographer Brian Widdis takes your photo at our Polaroid photo booth.

The Rest I Make Up
2:45 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 19 minutes

Maria Irene Fornes is among America’s greatest unknown playwrights. When she stops writing due to dementia, a friendship with filmmaker and Detroit native Michelle Memran reignites her visionary creative spirit, triggering a film collaboration that picks up where the pen left off.

Discussion: Journalist and author Amy Haimerl talks to filmmaker Michelle Memran; producer Katie Pearl; Treena Horton, program coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Association; and Holly Hughes, an internationally acclaimed performance artist and professor in Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.

Live From Detroit: Shorts Program 2
5:00 p.m.

A hodgepodge of the city’s residents seize on the arts and occupations that give them life.

A conversation with the filmmakers will follow the screening.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 29 minutes

Little Julio — A Detroit boxing coach challenges his young students to draw strength and discipline from their training. 6 minutes.

Con Security — At Youmacon, Detroit’s signature anime convention, security comes in the form of a kung-fu justice squad. 35 minutes.

Tee Grizzley — Off Parole — Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley balances a skyrocketing career with legal restrictions on his movement and schedule. 15 minutes.

Soul Skate — Every year roller skaters from around the world descend on Detroit for Soul Skate weekend, showing off styles from their own hometowns and reconnecting with their greater skating family. 16 minutes.

Finding Happiness Detroit — Three Detroiters defy a study denouncing Detroit as the unhappiest city in America by expressing what brings them joy. 5 minutes.

Bless You, Boys — Freep videographer Brian Kaufman digs into the paper’s archives to rediscover one of the most glorious moments in the city’s sports history through the eyes of reporter Bill McGraw and photographer Mary Schroeder, who covered the Tigers’ most recent World Series championship. 12 minutes.

The Unafraid
7:30 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 27 minutes

Co-directed by Upper Peninsula native Heather Courtney, The Unafraid follows three immigrant students in Georgia, a state that has banned them and other recipients of DACA from attending its top state universities and charges them international tuition at any other public college.

Discussion: Following the film, Free Press immigration reporter Niraj Warikoo talks to co-director Heather Courtney; Catalina Rios, an undocumented immigrant who benefits from DACA; and Raquel Garcia, director of housing and special projects at Global Detroit.

Sunday, April 14

Nailed It
1:00 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 59 minutes

Visit any strip mall in the United States, and there’s bound to be a Vietnamese nail salon. But few Americans know the history behind the salons and the 20 Vietnamese refugee women who in 1975 sparked a multibillion-dollar industry. Weaving powerful personal stories with insightful interviews, Nailed It! captures the steady hold Vietnamese Americans have on today’s multiethnic $8 billion dollar nail economy.

Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story
3:00 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 49 minutes

Even though he became a Formula Ford auto racing champion in England, Willy T. Ribbs had another race to win in America en route to becoming in 1991 the first African-American driver to compete in the Indy 500. Widely considered the Jackie Robinson of auto racing, Ribbs dealt with racism from car owners, mechanics, sponsors, and fellow drivers who often referred to him as “uppity” behind his back. Directed by Nate Adams and Adam Carolla, Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story features racing footage in downtown Detroit and profiles the controversial figure who broke the color barrier in auto racing during a long career that lasted from the late 1970s to early 2000s. World premiere. 

Discussion: Free Press Sports Digital Planner Kirkland Crawford talks to director Nate Adams and film subject Willy T. Ribbs after the screening.

Bungalow Sessions
6:00 p.m.

Not rated | Running time 1 hour 8 minutes

French filmmaker Nicolas Drolc wanted to make a film about contemporary American roots, folk and gospel music. But he couldn’t afford to leave his home base known as “the bungalow” in North Eastern France. He solved the geographical problem by inviting his favorite musicians to visit him, play in a local dive bar, and subject themselves to improvised questioning and field recordings the next morning at Drolc’s dwellings. The result is a loose, yet intimate discourse featuring Alabama troubadour Andy Dale Petty, former Gories and Detroit legend Danny Kroha, the one-eyed soul-saver Reverend Deadeye, California folk prophet Willy Tea Taylor, folksinger and teacher Possessed by Paul James and basement-gospel artist the Dad Horse Experience.

Discussion: Greg Baise, an independent curator and arts promoter in Detroit, will talk to filmmaker Nicolas Drolc after the screening.