Freep Film Festival brings diverse array of documentaries to Detroit

The city-centric documentary film festival is now in its ninth year and runs from April 27 through May 1. Standout documentaries include “America You Kill Me,” which highlights the work of queer rights icon Jeff Montgomery, and dinner-and-a-movie showcases at Frame in Hazel Park.

The documentary “America You Kill Me” is an honest portrayal of the rise and fall of gay rights icon Jeff Montgomery. Photo credit: Daniel Land


If you’re looking for a Michigan-centric documentaries that run the gamut from failed pizzeria owner who invented the modern-day bulletproof vest and shot himself 192 times to prove it worked (and filmed it all) to an honest portrayal of the rise and fall of gay rights icon Jeff Montgomery, the Freep Film Festival certainly has something for you.

Now in its ninth year, Freep Film Festival executive director Steve Byrne spoke with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper about a handful of must-see docs this year, including special food-and-film events around buzzed-out documentaries like “Bad Axe.” 

Byrne also discussed why the hometown newspaper has expanded its purview to include documentary films, which the Detroit Free Press has also produced and screened at the festival in the past.

“Documentaries are kissing cousins of journalism. The [Detroit Free Press] wanted to find to put its work in a different sphere than just throwing it up on the website,” says Byrne. “Newsrooms have been severely affected in the past few years due to cutbacks. This is a way to get stories told through a Free Press megaphone.”

Listen: Freep Film Festival executive director Steve Byrne talks about festival highlights like “America You Kill Me.”



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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.