This Week on American Black Journal:

Local documentary telling Detroit’s jazz legacy premieres at 2024 Freep Film Festival 

The 11th annual Freep Film Festival returns to various locations across Detroit and its suburbs April 10-14, featuring a host of local documentaries with strong ties to the community. One local documentary, “The Best of the Best: Jazz from Detroit,” explores the city’s innovative and influential jazz scene and its impact on the world. From past artists like Elvin Jones and Ron Carter to today’s performers, such as Karriem Riggins and Regina Carter, the documentary spotlights some of the musicians who continue to impact Detroit’s jazz legacy. 

The documentary is co-produced and written by Mark Stryker. It premieres Saturday, April 13 at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts during the 2024 Freep Film Festival. The film will be shown again on Sunday, April 14 at the Birmingham 8 Theatre. After the film screenings, filmmakers Roberta Friedman, Daniel Lowenthal and Stryker, along with bassist and composer Robert L. Hurst III, will sit down with Detroit Free Press members to discuss the film.  

“American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson sat down with Stryker at the Detroit Film Theatre to talk about how the documentary came to be, Detroit’s significant influence on modern and contemporary jazz, and the conditions that existed in the city that created an explosion of jazz beginning in the 1940s. The two also discuss the innovative and influential jazz musicians from Detroit, both past and present.

Detroit Institute of Arts ‘Regeneration’ exhibit spotlights trailblazing filmmakers, actors from early Black cinema 

An exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971,” explores the influential but overlooked role of trailblazing African American filmmakers and actors during the early days of cinema through the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit, on display at the museum through June 23, shares the racial barriers and challenges several African American artists overcame to showcase their talents in cinema. The exhibit was originally organized by the Academy Museum of Motion Picture. 

The exhibit features almost 200 historical artifacts such as photographs, costumes, props, posters and interactive elements, as well as newsreels, home movies, a selection of fully restored rarely seen films and more. The Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts is also presenting a film series with the exhibit, featuring over 20 film events highlighting the history of Black cinema and representation.  

“American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson speaks with Detroit Institute of Arts Curator and Head of the Center for African American Art Valerie Mercer about the museum’s landmark exhibition. They discuss some of the early films produced by Blacks, the importance of having this exhibit on display in Detroit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the impact these early African American filmmakers and performers have had on Blacks in film today.  

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.