The Freep Film Festival is back for its fifth year with a documentary-focused lineup that features films with a strong connection to Detroit and Michigan. The festival takes place from April 11-15th with more than 70 programs that hope to foster engagement and discussion about issues and challenges we face, while celebrating what makes us unique.

Venue partners around the city include the Fillmore, the Detroit Film Theater at the DIA, Cinema Detroit and Emagine Theaters. Check out our top picks for this years festival below.

‘The Price of Everything’

With unprecedented access to pivotal artists (including Jeff Koons, Larry Poons and Marilyn Minter) and the white-hot market surrounding them, “The Price of Everything” dives deep into the contemporary art world to provide an inside look at how big money can drive the art world – and how the art world can drive big money.

After the film: Free Press editor Nicole Avery talks to Asia Hamilton, founder and owner of Norwest Gallery of Art, visual artist Nic Notion, Jeffrey Abt, professor in the Duffy Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State University and David Klein, owner of David Klein Gallery.

11 a.m. Sun., April 15, Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom), Won’t You Be My Neighbor? takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination. 

6 p.m. Fri., April 13, Emagine Royal Oak

’12th and Clairmount’

It’s a return engagement for this Free Press documentary that debuted at the 2017 Freep Film Festival. Home movie footage donated by metro Detroiters provides the spine of “12th and Clairmount,” which looks back at the Detroit riot of 1967 — and its causes and aftermath. Those five days in July were among the most pivotal — and divisive — in the city’s history, with the turmoil leaving 43 dead. The home movie footage in “12th and Clairmount” captures a wide spectrum of Detroit life, from proud streetscapes to dance parties to neighborhood sporting events. 

After the films: On Friday, Lauren Hood, a Detroit-based community development consultant, talks to producer and longtime journalist Bill McGraw and Jamon Jordan, historian and founder of the Black Scroll Network History & Tours. On Saturday, Free Press opinion contributor Kim Trent talks to McGraw and Frank Joyce, a life-long activist and writer. On Sunday, Free Press staff writer Katrease Stafford talks to director Brian Kaufman, McGraw and producer and writer Kathy Kieliszewski.

5 p.m. Fri., April 13, Detroit Historical Society
7:30 p.m. Sat., April 14, Emagine Novi

6 p.m. Sun., April 15, Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA

‘Beauty and Ruin’

Does art matter to a city fighting for its life? This film follows the battle over the artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts as the city faced bankruptcy in 2013. With pensions of retired city workers at risk in the bankruptcy and creditors clamoring for the sale of art, the stage is set for a titanic tug-of-war for control of the DIA’s city-owned paintings. With unique access to top staff at the DIA and all the principal players in the bankruptcy, “Beauty and Ruin” is the riveting story of an astonishing art museum in the context of a failing city, and an authoritative behind-the-scenes look at the crisis that could have destroyed the DIA. Michigan premiere.

After the film: Free Press arts and entertainment editor Steve Byrne talks to director Marc de Guerre.

5:30 p.m. Fri., April 13, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture at the DIA.

‘Street Fighting Men’ 

In a rapidly changing America where mass inequality and dwindling opportunity have devastated the black working class, three Detroit men must fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations. Street Fighting Men, which celebrates dogged persistence in the face of overwhelming adversity, takes a deep, observational dive into the lives of three African-American men: retired cop Jack Rabbit, who continues to patrol the mean streets as a citizen; Deris, who has made bad choices in the past but wants to further his education and serve as a role model for his baby daughter; and Luke, who labors mightily as he rehabs a dilapidated house while putting together a meager living. Michigan premiere. 

After the film: On Saturday, Free Press Editor Peter Bhatia talks to director Andrew James, James “Jack Rabbit” Jackson, a community activist and retired Detroit police officer featured in the film, Kirk Mayes, executive director of Forgotten Harvest and former executive director of the Brightmoor Alliance. On Sunday, Orlando Bailey, host of Urban Consulate Detroit and director of community partnerships at the Eastside Community Network, talks to director Andrew James.

4:15 p.m. Sat., April 14, Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA
2 p.m. Sun., April 15, Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture at the DIA

‘The United States of Detroit’

Residents of Detroit’s neighborhoods fight for survival and growth in a city with an uncertain future, working tirelessly to improve their communities in spite of the lack of resources. The legacy of broken infrastructure has made Detroit one the most unstable metro areas in the US, yet the characters in this film find ways to succeed and even thrive by activating the power of their community, ultimately making progress in the struggle to take back their neighborhoods from the forces of economic decline and mismanagement.

After the film: Free Press senior news director James Hill talks to director Tylor Norwood, Barry Randolph, pastor at Church of the Messiah, and Terry Holston, youth director at Church of the Messiah, who are both featured in the film.

After the panel: Artist Village, next to the theatre, will host tours for film goers. Enter through Motor City Java & Tea House, which will stay open until 5 p.m. A donation to Motor City Blight Busters is encouraged for those who take the tour.

12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, the Redford Theatre

‘A Visit With Jam Handy’

Between the 1910s and the 1980s, the Jam Handy Organization made thousands of advertising, industrial and training films, many in its studio complex on East Grand Boulevard. Here are three of the most spectacular, presented as made in 35mm and shown inside the studio where they were created. All prints lent by Prelinger Archives.

7 p.m. Thu., April 12, Jam Handy
7 p.m. Fri., April 13, Jam Handy 


For the entire line up and more info, check out the Freep Film Festival website.