As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
The world premiere of “America You Kill Me,” a Detroit-produced documentary about the triumphs and struggles of gay rights leader and Triangle Foundation co-founder Jeffrey Montgomery, will be the centerpiece of the Freep Film Festival’s opening night on Wednesday, April 22, at the Fillmore Detroit.
The film will serve as the launching pad for the 7th annual documentary-focused festival, which will feature 70-plus screenings, parties, music and more across five days, from April 22 through 26. In recent years, the festival’s opener has established itself as one of Metro Detroit’s most-anticipated film events, drawing thousands to local debuts of films like “12th and Clairmount,” “The Russian Five” and “Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine.” With its deeply local story and captivating subject, the festival programming staff feels that “America You Kill Me” fits firmly in that lineage.
“Jeffrey Montgomery is the type of compelling, charismatic character who nearly jumps off the screen,” said Steve Byrne, Freep Film Festival executive director. “But more important, his life is the stuff of a Hollywood script. There are challenges, setbacks, victories and personal demons. ‘America You Kill Me’ captures them all, while making it crystal clear why his story remains highly relevant in 2020.”
The documentary was directed by Detroiter Daniel Land. The 37-year-old is a filmmaker, visual effects and installation artist who also teaches digital animation at the College for Creative Studies. The film team includes producer John Montgomery — Jeffrey Montgomery’s brother — and Detroit musician Audra Kubat, who handled the score. It was initially conceived in 2013 as an extended interview with Montgomery, but blossomed into a fully fledged film when Land realized it was a story that “deserved greater scope.”
“This was a guy standing up for his community at a time when it was legitimately dangerous to do and doing it with a grin,” Land said in a Detroit Free Press Article. “Controversial, radically inclusive and strategic, this is one of the great unsung heroes of both activism and of Detroit.”
Shot primarily in Detroit, the documentary uses archival footage, news coverage, animation and interviews with Montgomery and those who knew him to build its portrait of a man who became a figurehead of the gay rights movement in Michigan and beyond. Among those appearing in the film are former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and former Detroit Police Chief Isaiah “Ike” McKinnon.
Montgomery’s activism was spurred when his partner was killed outside a Detroit nightclub in 1985, and he was told police would not likely investigate because it was “just another gay killing.” Montgomery later co-founded the Triangle Foundation, an organization dedicated to battling violence against LGTBQ people and supporting other gay rights issues. As the film details, he became particularly well-known as an expert in the so-called Jenny Jones case of 1995, when a guest on “The Jenny Jones Show” revealed a gay crush on another show participant and was murdered a few days later by that same man.
While the film makes Montgomery’s heroism and intellect clear, it does not shy from his struggles, including political battles, difficulties with alcohol and health issues. He died in 2016.
In addition to the screening of the film, opening night will include a pre-film VIP party and post-film panel discussion.
The open-to-the-public VIP reception will be hosted by festival staff, and allow guests to mingle with filmmakers, dignitaries, on-screen talent and special guests. VIP reception tickets are $75 and include early entry in the Fillmore, reserved VIP seating and food and drink tickets. VIP tickets are limited and typically sell out quickly.
Regular tickets for “America You Kill Me” start at $20 in advance and officially go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 14 at LiveNation.com. For more information, visit freepfilmfestival.com