The Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship partners with local film festivals for a captivating look at history

City’s Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship partners with local film festivals for a captivating look at history

  • The Freep Film Festival and the Detroit Black Film Festival offer more than 100 films and special events during their April and September runs
  • The Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship (Detroit ACE) is proud to join the Detroit Black Film Festival (DetBff) and the Freep Film Festival in celebrating great documentary and narrative cinema this year.

DETROIT – Media are invited to a press event 4 p.m. Tuesday April 26, at Cinema Detroit, 4126 3rd Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, to hear details about the Freep Film Festival, now in its ninth year, and DetBFF, now in its third year. The event will be streamed live on YouTube and the City of Detroit’s Facebook page.

“Detroit has so much to be proud of in our growing film industry, and these two festivals reflect that,” said Rochelle Riley, the city’s director of arts and culture. FreepFilmFest will open April 27 with the first public screening of “Gradually, Then Suddenly: The Bankruptcy of Detroit,” a documentary that explores the city’s historic bankruptcy and its path forward. The film, which will premiere at the Detroit Film Theater at the Detroit Institute of Arts, tells the dramatic story of Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy. It portrays the city’s dire financial situation like a canary in the coal mine for municipalities in the country. From the controversial appointment of an emergency manager to the enactment of the so-called Grand Bargain – which helped protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ endangered collection and preserve the city’s pensions – the film offers new perspectives and behind-the-scenes details of the critical moment in the city’s history.

The festival will also host the world premiere of Daniel Land’s “America, You Kill Me” about Detroit gay rights pioneer Jeffrey Montgomery, who will attend the press conference. The film will be screened on Thursday April 28 at the Redford Theatre.

the Detroit Black Film Festival (DetBFF) will host its opening night on September 21, 2022, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movie, “Lady Sings the Blues.” The collaboration with the Motown Museum includes an opening gala at the Garden Theater.

“Lady Sings the Blues” is a 1972 American biographical drama film directed by Sidney J. Furie about jazz singer Billie Holiday. The film stars Detroit’s Diana Ross, as well as Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James T. Callahan and Scatman Crothers. Ross debuted as Billie Holiday in the film while under contract to Motown founder Berry Gordy. At the time, she was emerging as a solo artist after years with The Supremes. The film was produced by Motown Productions for Paramount Pictures. Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. And the soundtrack, which featured Ross singing Holiday songs, was a hit. Both Ross and Williams won the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Motion Picture for their performances.

Co-founder Marshalle Favors said she and her husband, Lazar, chose the iconic film because “it’s a renowned classic, and the stellar performance of it brought it to the big screen thanks to Motown.” The duo plans to announce special guests in September.

Motown Museum CEO Robin Terry said, “The Motown Museum is thrilled to partner with the Detroit Black Film Festival to recognize the contributions of independent black filmmakers. We are especially thrilled to co-host the festival’s opening event and special screening of the iconic film, “Lady Sings the Blues”, a Motown Productions film produced by Berry Gordy starring Diana Ross in her feature debut, which now celebrating its 50th anniversary. ”

DetBFF co-founder Lazar Favors said the film also aligns with DetBFF’s other goal of elevating fashion and music. “It’s a natural fit that aligns with our film, fashion and music theme for this year’s festival,” he said. “And it gives a chance to support the Motown Museum as it begins a new chapter in American history.”

The museum, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of music and history fans each year, is currently undergoing a major $55 million expansion that will double its size and house a permanent stage offering scheduled performances and music sets. pop up. The museum has previously linked the three houses where Gordy turned young local talent into global stars – the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations and Marvin Gaye among them.

The DetBFF team is reviewing films and touring locations to prepare for the festival, which in its first two years has offered Detroit audiences 87 films and 20 workshops and panel discussions with vital Hollywood insiders. Among them was Detroit-born Qasim Basir, director of the landmark film A Boy, A Girl, A Dream starring Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good.


The Freep Film Festival is a documentary-focused festival produced by Detroit Free Press, Michigan’s largest news organization, in cooperation with its business arm, The festival is centered in downtown Detroit and takes place at venues including the Detroit Film Theater, Cinema Detroit, Redford Theater and the Michigan Science Center. Suburban venues include the Birmingham 8 Powered by Emagine – and Frame in Hazel Park. The festival focuses on documentaries with strong ties to Detroit or Michigan – although it also reserves great films without specific local ties. Freep Film Festival also presents parties and educational experiences for the film community and embraces the journalistic mission of Detroit Free Press, hosting in-depth and topical conversations after many of its films. The complete program of films is available on Festival passes and tickets are on sale now on the website. New to the festival this year is “4 Nights. 4 movies. 4 Chefs,” in which the festival partners with the Frame restaurant in Hazel Park to feature film screenings in tandem with meals prepared by some of Metro Detroit’s top chefs. Other highlights include:

“2nd Chance”: In 1969, a bankrupt Detroit pizzeria owner, Richard Davis, invented the modern body armor. Charming and hot-headed – even shooting himself in the head 192 times – Davis made sensational marketing films, earning him celebrity status among police and gun owners. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.

  • ‘America, You Kill Me’: This world premiere looks at the life and legacy of local gay rights icon and Triangle Foundation co-founder Jeffrey Montgomery, who became a powerful voice against violence and discrimination after her boyfriend was murdered outside a Detroit bar in the 1980s.
  • “Bad Axe”: An Asian-American family in rural Michigan fights to keep their restaurant and the American dream alive in the face of a pandemic and more. It premiered at South by Southwest in Austin.

Images of the main films of the festival are available here. For inquiries, please contact Dawn Kelley, Expand Marketing Group, 734-765-1429, [email protected]



Presented by the Ford Foundation, the 3rd Detroit Black Film Festival (DetBFF), which was founded in 2020, continues to showcase the voices and stories of black independent filmmakers nationwide. DetBff is dedicated to screening excellent, high-quality films from seasoned and emerging filmmakers that shed light on a range of stories reflecting African American experiences, narratives, and culture. In addition to screening great films, the festival will feature masterclasses, networking with industry professionals, Q&As with the filmmakers, and a closing party.

Festival co-directors Lazar and Marshalle Favors are founders of Trinity Films Entertainment Group (TFEG), an umbrella company of the Detroit Black Film Festival. The couple are committed to working with determination to contribute to the sustainability and economic growth of the Greater Detroit area film community. “We strive to support filmmakers as artists and provide an exceptional platform for their work,” said Marshalle Favors. For more information on the Detroit Black Film Festival, visit:

Gladys T. Hensley