As the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riots approaches, the Detroit Institute of Arts is compiling archival, home footage of the event to showcase in a marathon screening. Estee Lipenholtz, who graduated Motion Picture Institute in 2013, is the project coordinator for the event. Estee's job is to meet with various groups and key individuals to collect old footage of the riots, typically shot on 8mm and Super 8mm, and then archive the footage. The Detroit Film Theater inside of the DIA, who is sponsoring the event, would like ten hours of footage of the '67 riots. This certainly has created a challenge for Estee, as finding old home videos from 50 years ago in resident and church archives and closets is very difficult. She then has the footage digitized from the 8mm footage, turning them into DVDs. Old 8mm and 16mm film is not like old Hollywood super 35mm film which can become highly flammable when it degrades, and instead, can begin to 'gas off' when it erodes, smelling like vinegar. This chemical decay, known as the "vinegar syndrome," can be rapid, causing the film to shrink, curl, or be brittle, and the image in turn to be lost. Despite all of these challenges, Estee has managed to obtain 260 films already, and collected over 120 hours of home movie footage from diverse Detroit families that has been digitized in-house with a 4k camera.
The Detroit Film Theater is planning on showing the home movies unedited in a marathon screening on July 29th, 2017 at 1pm. As the DIA is a nonprofit, federal tax exempt organization, the public will not be charged an admission fee to the screening. Instead the project runs on funds from a grant received by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The program includes home movies from every family that loaned their film to this project. This film project will screen 45 minutes of silent film, and then a 15 minute intermission with amateur musical acts and spoken work to be announced the day of the performance. The show will last a minimum of 10 hours.
This is one of many projects coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the '67 riots. Estee is also a consultant for a Detroit Free Press documentary being done on the riots. Estee will assist The Free Press in harvesting footage that the DIA received and digitized for use in their documentary. The finished result will be shown at the Freep Film Festival in March 2017.
Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Academy Award for The Hurt Locker, is also directing a movie on the 1967 riots, set to release in 2017 as well.