Detroit SheTown Film Festival Returns to Celebrate Stories by Women

The festival, inspired by Detroit’s legacy of bringing woman into the auto factories in the early 20th century, comes to Cinema Detroit Sept. 12 – 15.

In Detroit during the 1920s and ‘30s, women began replacing men in the auto plant, handling drill presses, internal grinders, and lathers. This was, of course, much to the discontent of men. Women could take on the labor, but received cheaper pay, and thus became more appealing for the job. 

This is how the Motor City came to be known as “she-town,” after a labor journalist shared a letter submitted to Auto Workers News by a disgruntled man who worked at Ford. 

It’s this history that inspired the launch of the Detroit SheTown Film Festival in 2018. Returning this year, the festival runs September 12 – 15. 

“Now I know that there are resources and people here that I can rely on. The SheTown Festival boosted my confidence.” – Kennikki Jones-Jones, filmmaker

Mandy Looney and Mike Madigan, fest founders, take the she-town concept to heighten visibility of female-driven cinema in Detroit through stories, performance and production. 

Kennikki Jones-Jones, a director, producer and SheTown Film Festival Alum, says that the experience gave her a boost of confidence and a network of women in the city to collaborate with.

“Now I know that there are resources and people here that I can rely on,” she says in an interview with CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire. “The SheTown Festival boosted my confidence.” 

The three-day festival is packed with short film screenings across a variety of genres, from comedy to horror/thriller, and a series of events intended to provide more opportunities for filmmakers and enthusiasts to connect.

When creating this, the only thing I ever wanted was to see women have the chance and platform to collaborate and that organically seems to happen,” says Mandy Looney, co-founder of the SheTown Festival. “The point is to get women together to further themselves and have inspiration.” 

Click the player to hear CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire in conversation with festival co-founders, Mandy Looney and Mike Madigan, and fest alum, filmmaker Kennikki Jones-Jones.

The SheTown Film Festival kicks off Thursday, Sept. 12 with a Filmmaker Mixer at Detroit Shipping Company, 7:00 pm. A full list of screening showtimes and events can be found here

This story is a part of Detroit StoryMakers.

WDET’s Detroit StoryMakers initiative empowers local storytellers in bringing Detroit’s stories to life. Support for this initiative comes from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs and through matching gifts from station donors.