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Heard on CultureShift

Freep Film Festival Picks “America, You Kill Me,” on Detroit Gay Rights Activist, for Opening Night

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Image credit: Freep Film Festival

The film festival will open with “America, You Kill Me,” which tells the story of Jeffrey Montgomery, an LGBTQ activist and founder of the Triangle Foundation in Detroit.

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America, You Kill Me,” a documentary about Detroit gay rights activist Jeffrey Montgomery, will open this year’s Freep Film Festival, an all-documentary festival produced by the Detroit Free Press and Michigan.com. 

The film traces Jeffrey’s life from the 1984 hate crime killing of his partner to his rise as a Midwestern LGBTQ activist and finally to his struggles with alcohol in later years. Jeffrey died in 2016 in Detroit at the age of 63 as the film was still in production. 

Jeffrey Montgomery “was somebody who, at a time when this was not common – even within the movement – he was very aggressive about inclusivity.” - Daniel Land, director

Jeffrey Montgomery is the type of compelling, charismatic character who nearly jumps off the screen,” said Steve Byrne, executive director of Freep Film Festival, in a statement. “But more important, his life is the stuff of a Hollywood script. There are challenges, setbacks, victories and personal demons.”

Freep Film Festival will take place from April 22 - 26 this year.

The documentary was produced by Montgomery’s brother John Montgomery and directed by Daniel Land. Detroit musician Audra Kubat scored the film. 

CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper spoke with Land and John Montgomery last year. The documentary dives deeper into the activists’ history as it delivers an “honest portrayal” of Jeffrey’s life and legacy, according to Land. 

He was very much a grassroots organizer,” says Land. “He was somebody who, at a time when this was not common – even within the movement – he was very aggressive about inclusivity. I think there are a lot of lessons we can learn, both from his triumphs and some of his mistakes. For Detroit’s LGBTQ community [and] in terms of any activism, that history is important.” 

Click on the player above to hear ‘America, You Kill Me’ director Daniel Land and producer John Montgomery, Jeffrey’s brother, discuss the film.

Freep Film Festival’s Opening Night is April 22 at The Fillmore at 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $20.


Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is a host of CultureShift and longtime arts, culture and music reporter.

hooper@wdet.org Follow @hoopingtonpost

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