Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Freep Film Festival

I finally made it to my first Freep Film Festival. This annual Detroit event is presented by the Detroit Free Press and Michigan.com, and various theaters in Detroit and Royal Oak.

Unfortunately, I was only able to see one film because of my schedule and because a couple of films I wanted to see were sold out. However, I luckily had seen and reviewed two of the films before, Superior and Exported From Michigan.

Although most of the films have a Michigan connection, I wanted to see one that specifically focused on Michiganders, so I chose Accidental Activists. This film explores the journey of two women, Jayne and April DeBoer-Rowse, who tried to challenge Michigan's adoption laws so they could have equal parenting rights to their children. When U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman told their attorneys that Michigan's adoption law wasn't the problem, they then found themselves challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban and ending up on the winning side of last year's U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

The film was directed by Mandi Wright of the Detroit Free Press, and she does an excellent job getting inside the everyday lives of the DeBoer-Rowses and the whirlwind of becoming unwitting but unwavering champions of a crusade that they initially had no intention of undertaking.

Following the film, Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson led a discussion with April and Jayne DeBoer-Rowse, their attorneys, Dana Nessel and Carole Stanyar, Judge Friedman, and Wright. The discussion shed light on the filming process and each panelist's feelings about the film and the lawsuit's path through the justice system.

The Detroit Institute of Arts hosted the film and helped make it a great experience. Next year, I hope to attend more than one screening at this fantastic festival.

For more information about Accidental Activists, click here.

For my previous reviews of Superior and Exported From Michigan, click here and here.

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