12th and Clairmount

In July 1967, Detroit erupted in one of America’s most violent civil disturbances. Using more than 400 reels of home movies donated by Detroiters – along with a tapestry of archival materials – 12th and Clairmount transports viewers back in time to explore the causes and aftermath of Detroit’s most pivotal moment in history.

Premiering in 2017, this feature film became a centerpiece of community engagement related to the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Rebellion. It screened widely throughout Metro Detroit and Michigan, in combination with panel discussions and educational events.

Writing for Variety Magazine, film critic Owen Gleiberman called 12th and Clairmount, “a revelatory portrait of the city … illuminating and innovatively crafted.” Ahead of its New York premiere at DOC NYC, CriterionCast described the film as, “a devastating piece of non-fiction filmmaking … part oral history and part sociological scholarship.”

The Wall

Investigative journalists embark on a 2,000 mile journey along the US/Mexico border to dissect President Trump’s $20 billion proposal to build a wall from the Gulf to the Pacific, exploring the history, heartache and hope that comes from living on one of America’s most controversial stretches of land. With rare footage from some of the most remote reaches of the United States, this topical, feature film reveals the unknown issues and details the unintended consequences that a wall would have on security, commerce, smuggling, environment, property rights and human life.

The Wall premiered in 2018 as politics at the southern border reached a boiling point. Community screenings were hosted nationwide by newspapers across the USA TODAY NETWORK, many of which contributed to the film and comprehensive report.

“The Wall: Untold Stories, Unintended Consequences” was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

Fire Photo 1

For over 50 years, the unassuming, affable Bill Eisner has photographed fire in Detroit, amassing an unprecedented and priceless visual history of the Detroit Fire Department.

His archive is gargantuan: hundreds of thousands of photographs, Super 8mm film reels, boxes of video tapes and hours of audio cassette dispatch recordings. This remarkable collection tells the story of firefighters at work in a city that has burned more than any other in America. And it tells the story of Eisner, whose single-minded pursuit has made him as deeply engrained in the Detroit Fire Department as any firefighter.

This short film premiered at The Fillmore Detroit in 2015 to a sold-out crowd of firefighters, fire buffs, fire photographers and of course, Bill Eisner. Luckily for everyone in attendance, there wasn’t a 3-alarm fire in Detroit that night. If there had been, Eisner might have left before taking the stage to talk about his life’s work.

Predator / Prey: The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves

The fragile ecosystem of Isle Royale National Park is dominated by the predator / prey relationship between wolves and moose. But on the biggest island in the biggest lake on Earth, things have unraveled. With wolves dwindling and moose booming, the National Park Service must decide how to manage these iconic species in a wilderness setting that’s historically taken a hands-off approach. As climate change forces precedent-setting actions, does the resiliency of wilderness depend on human intervention?

This short film premiered at the Detroit Film Theatre in 2016 and screened at film festivals throughout Michigan, accompanied by panel discussions with researchers and ecologists from Michigan Technological University.

The film continues to be used in public education, shaping a generation of young people who will address the biggest environmental challenges facing humanity.

Packard: The Last Shift

Once a symbol of industrial might and now ground zero for rustbelt blight, the century-old Packard Plant sits at the center of Detroit lore, its most infamous ruin. And with all eyes on Detroit many are asking – can the Packard Plant be saved?

The Packard Motor Car Company and its 5-million square foot plant became a symbol of the American Dream in the heart of the Motor City. Packard left town in 1954, but the plant still stands as a symbol of decay. The half-mile stretch of rubble and ruin tells a story of failed politics and criminal activity, of scrappers and arsonists who went too far, and of the perseverance of one business to stick it out. The lawless plant has become a haven for street artists and curiosity seekers from around the world, including a devloper from Peru who now owns it.

Packard: The Last Shift premiered as a feature film on opening night of the Inaugural Freep Film Festival in 2014.

Belle Isle Revealed

Nestled in the Detroit River, Belle Isle is Detroit’s largest public park. Roughly 1 million visitors a year use the island for recreation, but few people explore its natural areas. Filmed over the course of one year, Belle Isle Revealed explores the island’s important ecological role in the heart of the Great Lakes waterway. From old-growth forests to remnant prairies, from shallow wetlands to rocky river-banks, Belle Isle hosts a surprising diversity of wildlife.

This short film premiered on freep.com in 2010 alongside a comprehensive report in print about efforts to preserve Belle Isle’s ecological balance. Through a partnership with WWJ-TV, Belle Isle Revealed broadcast locally on Super Bowl Sunday. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences nominated Belle Isle Revealed in the craft category of Nature and Wildlife Cinematography.

Efforts to restore Belle Isle’s natural habitats are ongoing.