4 musical documentaries you’ll want to dance to


The Freep Film Festival has always loved to book great musical documentaries, especially when the films feature the sounds of the Motor City.

The 2021 edition, which begins on Wednesday, is no different. Here’s a look at four docs from the festival lineup that might just get you dancing in the aisles.

“Detroit, remember when: Rockin ‘Robin Seymour”

If you grew up in Detroit, there’s a good chance Robin Seymour recounted your musical memories as one of the city’s most popular DJs, whose career dates back to the dawn of rock’n’roll in the 1950s. He made a name for himself on radio stations like WXYZ and WKNR as well as hosting “Swingin ‘Time Dance Party” on CKLW-TV in the 1960s while helping to propel the careers of many artists from Motown and like Bob Seger and Mitch Ryder. He passed away in April 2020, but his role in Detroit broadcasting history will not be forgotten.

2 p.m. Sunday, September 26, Detroit Historical Museum. After the film, Detroit Free Press arts and culture reporter Duante Beddingfield speaks with director Bill Kubota.

Also available for virtual home streaming.

Tickets and more information HERE.

Following:“On the Line” podcast discussions with “Rockin ‘Robin” director Bill Kubota

‘Digging for Weldon Irvine’

Victorious De Costa pays a timely tribute to the life and legacy of prolific musician, poet and playwright Weldon Irvine, a prominent figure in the black arts movement of the 1970s and conductor of Nina Simone.

Director Victorious De Costa pays a timely tribute to the life and legacy of prolific musician, poet and playwright Weldon Irvine, a prominent figure in the black arts movement of the 1970s whose influence far exceeds his commercial success or his popular fame. As Nina Simone’s conductor, he wrote the indelible lyrics to “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”. As a mentor to rappers such as Mos Def and Q-Tip, Irvine was a crucial link between the worlds of jazz and conscious hip-hop. Irvine’s unreleased audio and music, along with interviews with close collaborators, help illuminate the life and work of a tortured artist who stands at the intersection of so many black cultural movements of the 20th century. Detroit Metro premiere.

2 p.m., Saturday, September 25, Detroit Historical Museum. After the film, Detroit Free Press arts and culture reporter Duante Beddingfield speaks with director Victorious De Costa.

Also available for virtual home streaming.

Tickets and more information HERE.

“Madonna: Truth or Dare”

Madonna with her dancers in "Truth or Dare."

In this 30th anniversary screening, the festival looks back at the documentary that found Madonna staring at fame and helped set the stage for the legion of famous behind-the-scenes documentaries that have arrived in its wake. The revealing film offers a seamless look into the life of the Michigan Girl, taking viewers behind the scenes of her “Blond Ambition” tour. From the locker room to the bedroom, the outrageous and always entertaining singer reveals all her secrets – from her declining relationship with actor Warren Beatty to her friendship with Sandra Bernhard and her crush on future “Evita” co-star Antonio Banderas. The original Free Press review in 1991 stated that “the real challenge in this clever, familiar and infuriating documentary is its way of making you search for truth beneath the poses.”

5:30 p.m. Friday September 24, Emagine Birmingham 8.

Tickets and more information HERE.

“Who are you going to call? Ray Parker Jr.’s Story ‘

Ray Parker Jr. appears outside the Motown Museum in Detroit on February 26, 2019, while filming the documentary "Who are you going to call?"

You know Ray Parker Jr.’s music even if you don’t recognize his name right away. The Detroit native wrote the indelible smash “Ghostbusters,” the theme song for the 1984 film of the same name. But by then he was already a prolific recording artist and performer, having honed his skills as a session and touring musician with Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones when he was still a teenager and he wrote hits for New Edition, Diana Ross and others. “Who are you going to call? Traces his path from the segregated streets of Detroit in the 1960s to the top of the charts and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, offering a candid look at a complicated artist whose musical legacy is late for wider appreciation. American premiere.

7:30 p.m., Thursday, September 23, Redford Theater. After the film Thursday, Free Press writer and music critic Brian McCollum speaks with Ray Parker Jr. and director Fran Strine.

2 p.m., Sunday September 26, Emagine Birmingham 8.

Also available for virtual home streaming.

Tickets and more information HERE.

Following:37 Years After ‘Ghostbusters’, Ray Parker Jr. Has A Story To Tell In New Documentary

Freep Film Festival

from wednesday to sunday

Various locations in the Detroit metro

Tickets and program information on freepfilmfestival.com


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