This Week on One Detroit:

2024 Freep Film Festival spotlights local documentaries and filmmakers 

Documentary enthusiasts are getting ready for the start of the 11th annual Freep Film Festival. Scheduled from April 10th to the 14th at various venues across Metro Detroit, this year’s festival includes a lineup of more than 20 feature-length documentaries and numerous shorts, many of which have strong local ties. 

With a keen focus on films that explore the issues, people, and landscapes of Detroit and Michigan, the festival has become a staple event in the region’s cultural calendar. The festival features more than just films, offering attendees the opportunity to participate in post-film discussions and educational events. For the second year, the film festival will also include an Asian American Pacific Islander Film Series curated by local filmmaker Razi Jafri.  

Continuing the film festival’s tradition of spotlighting local productions, the festival kicks off this year with “Rouge,” produced by Jafri and directed by Hamoody Jaafar. The documentary follows the River Rouge High School Panthers basketball team on their quest for another state championship. 

Another locally themed film playing at the festival is “Ignore the Noise: The Transformation of the Detroit Riverfront.” The documentary shows how the city’s waterfront was transformed and is told through the voices of people who played a major role over the past two decades. The film is a collaboration between Detroit Public Television and Free Age Films and plays on April 13 and 14.   

One Detroit contributor Stephen Henderson, host of “American Black Journal,” met up with the festival’s Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Kathy Kieliszewski from the Detroit Free Press, and local filmmaker Razi Jafri, at the Detroit Film Theatre in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the site of the festival’s opening night, to talk about what attendees can expect from this year’s Freep Film Festival. 

Local documentary opens 2024 Freep Film Festival, features Rouge High School basketball team

The city of River Rouge, just outside of Detroit in the downriver region, is the focus of the opening night film for this year’s Freep Film Festival. The documentary called “Rouge” was directed by local filmmaker Hamoody Jaafar. Jaafar and another Detroit-area filmmaker Razi Jafri finished “Rouge” this year. Jafri is the producer of the film, which started filming in 2019 and follows the River Rouge High School Panthers basketball team as they began their quest for another state championship. 

“Rouge” features four players with the team along with their head coach and many past players and sports figures who talk about the history of the Panthers including Michigan State University Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, former University of Detroit Mercy basketball coach Perry Watson and longtime Detroit Free Press reporter Mick McCabe. 

“Rouge” opens the film festival Wednesday, April 10 at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Jaafar talked to One Detroit’s Bill Kubota about how his love for basketball led him to the amazing story of the River Rouge High School Panthers, a team that has the most men’s basketball state championships in Michigan history. 

One Detroit Weekend: April 5, 2024 

April is Jazz Appreciation Month and what better way to celebrate the genre than with a performance from Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis. There’s a host of other performances coming to town, including Celtic Woman at the Fisher Theatre, “Breaking the Waves” at Detroit Opera and “Annabella in July” at the Detroit Repertory Theatre.  

Plus, support local small businesses during All Things Detroit Day at Eastern Market or check out some visual art at the College for Creative Studies Valade Gallery and the Cranbrook Art Museum. See what’s coming up on “One Detroit Weekend” with contributor Dave Wagner of 90.9 WRCJ.

Upcoming Events:   

  • Three-time Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis performs Friday, April 5 at Orchestra Hall in Detroit with his quartet: pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner. 
  • The 20th anniversary tour of Celtic Woman takes place at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit Saturday, April 6, featuring traditional Irish music with a contemporary flare. 
  • Detroit Opera presents “Breaking the Waves,” a new production making its Detroit premiere, on select dates through April 14.  
  • Shop with more than 200 local small businesses at the 10th annual All Things Detroit Day in Eastern Market Sheds no. 3, no. 4 and no. 5 on Sunday, April 7.  
  • The Detroit Repertory Theatre presents “Annabella in July,” a fast-paced comedy that’s sure to make you laugh, through May 5.  
  • The Studio at Hilberry Gateway Theatre in Detroit presents a production of “Amélie” from the Wayne State University Department of Theatre and Dance through April 20.  
  • The College for Creative Studies Valade Family Gallery presents an exhibit from artist Eleanor Oakes titled “Love’s Labor” through April 27. An opening reception will take place Friday, April 5. 
  • The Cranbrook Academy of Art showcases its 2024 Graduate Degree Exhibition, featuring works from the next generation of artists and designers, through May 12 at the Cranbrook Art Museum.

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