Bringing fresh perspectives to the Freep Film Festival

Source: UM-Dearborn

Assistant Professor Adam Sekuler and his students discuss “Chasing Chasing Amy,” one of their Freep Film Festival selections. Photo/Max Parham

Growing up queer in a conservative Kansas town, filmmaker Sav Rodgers didn’t realize that the 1997 indie hit “Chasing Amy” was controversial. He regarded the Kevin Smith film, with its lesbian lead character, as lifesaving. It played an important role in Rodgers’ coming out as a trans man.

Rodgers has turned his personal experiences with the film, along with some of the difficult feelings around and behind it, into a documentary, which was submitted for consideration for this year’s Freep Film Festival, an all-documentary festival produced by the Detroit Free Press. It was selected by a panel of first-time reviewers who festival organizers say bring a new and welcome perspective to the festival: UM-Dearborn students.

The partnership is part of Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Production Adam Sekuler’s new “Film Festival Programming” course. Working closely with Freep Festival organizers, students reviewed numerous submissions, assessing each for its artistic merit, storytelling prowess and thematic relevance. In addition to “Chasing Chasing Amy,” the group selected “The Herricanes,” the story of the first women’s full tackle football league in the 1970s.

The effort was an exercise in consensus-building, says Natalie Albrecht, a senior majoring in journalism and screen studies. While “Chasing Chasing Amy” was a shoo-in for many students, sentiments about “The Herricanes” were a bit more varied. “It was on a lot of people’s lists, but it wasn’t at the top,” Albrecht explains. But broad appeal is a key consideration in curation, so that made the film a strong contender. Also, both films got the students talking, which Albrecht sees as a harbinger of how festival audiences will respond. “I feel like the ones that we chose were ones that we felt we had the most dialogue about,” she says.

Continuing reading…

The Freep Film Festival runs April 10-14 at locations in Midtown Detroit and Birmingham, with some streaming options. In addition to the student-selected films, UM-Dearborn’s involvement includes a panel discussion following ‘Chasing Chasing Amy’ moderated by Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Amy Brainard. “Becoming Mighty,” a short film produced by students in Sekuler’s “Arab American Perspectives” documentary filmmaking course last semester, screens as part of the festival’s Real Fresh University Showcase

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