Detroit bankruptcy documentary to open 2022 Freep Film Fest

Detroit’s historic bankruptcy will be in the spotlight on the opening night of this year’s Freep Film Festival.

“Gradually, Then Suddenly: The Bankruptcy of Detroit” will premiere to the public on April 27 at the Detroit Film Theater at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The documentary will also be streamed – free of charge – for Michigan residents during the festival weekend.

“Gradually, Then Suddenly” tells the dramatic story of Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy, depicting the city’s dire financial situation as a canary in the coal mine for municipalities nationwide. From the controversial appointment of an emergency manager to the enactment of the so-called Grand Bargain – which helped protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ endangered collection and preserve the city’s pensions – the film offers new insights and behind-the-scenes details of the critical moment in the city’s history.

Continued:The Freep Film Festival announces dates for 2022 and returns in the spring

The documentary uses contemporary interviews, re-enactments and archival footage to unfold its story. As the world watches, Detroit becomes the epicenter of court drama and secret cases with heartbreaking consequences for residents, retirees, bankers and politicians.

In 2014, Shirley Lightsey was president of the Detroit Retired City Employees Association.  She appears in the movie

“The story of Detroit’s six-decade slide into tax and utility insolvency, culminating in the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, is a wake-up call to the rest of the nation” , said the film’s executive producer and co-director, Sam. Katz. “Gradually, then suddenly” sends a powerful warning that tackling fiscal distress head-on, no matter how painful the process and how difficult the choices are, is the only way to avert the suffering experienced by Detroit residents. »

In 2021, the documentary won the $200,000 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, a competition designed to help bring historical documentaries to the finish line. This will be his first public screening.

Continued:Documentary about Detroit bankruptcy saga wins $200,000 prize

In early 2013, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder speaks at a press conference to announce that Washington, D.C. attorney Kevyn Orr, 54, right, has been named emergency chief financial officer of the city ​​of Detroit as Detroit Mayor Dave Bing stands to the left of the podium.

“’Gradually, Then Suddenly’ is the kind of film that is at the heart of the Freep Film Festival’s mission – gripping documentaries about and for Michigan audiences, said festival artistic director Kathy Kieliszewski. “It’s a comprehensive and compelling account that will reverberate throughout the region today and for generations to come.”

All tickets for “Gradually, Then Suddenly” will be given away for free. Additionally, the documentary will be available for free home streaming during the festival weekend. Tickets will be limited.

“The film has benefited from the contributions of stories, memories, ideas, archival collections, filming locations and grants from so many Detroiters, making admissions free is our way of saying thank you,” said Katz.

The film was produced by Philadelphia-based Katz’s Historical productions, and co-directed by Metro Detroiter James McGovern. Nathan Bomey, former Detroit Free Press reporter and author of the book “Detroit Resurrected: Out of Bankruptcy and Back Again,” was the main screenwriter. Chastity Pratt-Dawsey, a former Free Press reporter, was a producer.

Continued:5 years of bankruptcy, can Detroit avoid another one?

Opening night at the DIA will serve as the launchpad for the 9th annual documentary-focused festival, which will feature more than 40 screenings (in-person and virtual), parties, film events and more over five days, from 27 April to May 1. Past festival openings have drawn thousands to local debuts of films like “12th and Clairmount,” “The Russian Five” and “Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale.”

A first allotment of complimentary tickets to the opening night screening will be available for reservation at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16. It is expected that a limited number of peak line tickets will be available on the night of the show, April 27.

Reservations to watch the film’s home stream will also be available at 10 a.m. on March 16. The film will be available to stream on April 28, with availability until May 1. The total number of viewers will be capped.

The festival screenings will serve as the local launch for a series of Metro Detroit events organized by the “Gradually, Then Suddenly” team. These events, which will take place outside the framework of the festival, are currently being planned and will be scheduled from April 28 to May 5.

“Gradually, Then Suddenly: Detroit’s Bankruptcy”

Opening night, Freep Film Festival

7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27

Detroit Film Theater at the Detroit Institute of Arts


Reservations open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16 on www.

Reservations for the free home broadcast of the film are open at the same time

Freep Film Festival

April 27-May 1

At a variety of Detroit Metro locations

The full lineup will be announced March 21; most tickets on sale March 29


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