documentary

Main stage of Hart Plaza, Detroit
User: The #technoMeccaMixtape / screengrab detroitsoundproject.com

The power of music to build bridges.

In this case, electronic and techno music is building bridges between Detroit and South Africa.

That's the focus of a documentary film called Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project. The short film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Filmmaker Kristian Hill is based in Los Angeles, but he is from Detroit. Hill says in exploring the underground electronic and techno music scenes in Detroit and places like Tokyo, Russia, and South Africa, he got to meet people from all over the world.

Hill says he found music lovers who have a real interest in Detroit music -- beyond just Motown.

“We’ve met people who tell us that you know, Muslims go to Mecca, but techno lovers go to Detroit,” says Hill.

* Listen to our conversation with Kristian Hill above.

Watch a trailer of the documentary:

There will be a screening of the film on September 27, 2014 at Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit. You can get more information on the screening and the progress of Hill's film on his website.

Wikipedia

Ever since a student at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School got his first 8mm camera for his 17th birthday, he has searched for good stories to tell.

And tell them he does. That Ann Arbor high school kid was Ken Burns. And since getting that first camera in 1970, Ken has turned his camera and his storyteller's eye to subjects like World War II, the Civil War, the Brooklyn Bridge, baseball, jazz, the West, the Brooklyn Five, and so much more.

Tonight on PBS, Ken Burns brings us his newest story. It's called "The Address."

The film follows the students at a tiny school in Vermont where students are challenged each year to learn and recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

As he follows these boys, Ken uncovers many powerful individual stories and, at the same time, brings us a much-needed reminder of the power of Abraham Lincoln's words.

Ken Burns joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The average gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. has steadily been improving, and greenhouse gas emissions are at an all-time low. The Environmental Protection Agency also recently set new emissions standards, scheduled to be phased in between 2017 and 2025, that will reduce the amount of sulfur found in gasoline.

But is the slow and steady climb in fuel economy and emissions enough? On today’s show, we ask if the Obama administration's 2016 and 2025 fuel efficiency goals setting the bar too low?

Then, a new documentary film brings us the story of the Great Lakes as seen through its ice.

And, last month, Gov. Snyder confirmed a financial emergency existed in Royal Oak Township. Can other communities learn from Royal Oak’s situation?

Also, the Share Art Project is a collaborative effort among artists at the Buckham Gallery, students and the Genesee Valley Regional Center. We spoke to a Buckham board member about the program and an upcoming exhibit.

First on the show, there have been two big developments this week in the high-stakes showdown over Detroit's pensioners, its art treasures and creditors, who hope bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes will pressure the city to put those art treasures on the table.

There's a lot to try to sort out. So, as we do each Thursday, we spoke to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

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Those of us who live in Michigan grow up with an ingrained awareness of the Great Lakes. We drink their water, sail and swim in them, build homes and cottages on their shorelines, and live with the weather they help produce.

The Great Lakes are an economic power-player. They contribute one trillion dollars to America's gross national product. And let's not overlook that $4 billion Great Lakes fishing industry.

A new documentary film brings us a unique look at the Great Lakes. PROJECT: ICE explores the crucial role that ice has played and continues to play in shaping and maintaining Michigan's most important resource.

The executive producer and director of PROJECT: ICE, Bill Kleinert, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

*Support for Arts and culture coverage on Stateside comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

The MEAP test has been used to evaluate kids and schools in Michigan for over four and a half decades.

The test is meant to make sure public schools are teaching kids the basics. But MEAP scores affect where parents decide to send their kids, neighborhood housing prices, city tax revenue, and city services.

Basically, the economics of a city rests on how well 8 and 9-year-olds perform on this single test.

State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer spent six weeks inside Congress Elementary in Grand Rapids, a school with consistently low MEAP scores. Dwyer followed a third-grade class as they prepared to take the test. He interviewed students, teachers, and parents, trying to figure out how much these numbers matter. What he found was, the test scores do not even begin to tell the story.

To hear the documentary now and learn more, visit the State of Opportunity website. 

Embattled Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema is hitting back at critics of his anti-gay and anti-Muslim web postings, saying he stands on the same issues he always has, "God, family and country."

In a Facebook post, the ex-state-Representative says people are feeding half-truths to the news media within the GOP and stirring up divisiveness.

He says he's wrongly being blamed for posting other people's comments and says it's an unfortunate and uncivil tactic to tarnish his reputation.

Rick Pluta, Lansing bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics, joined us today.

Lawmakers in Lansing have begun holding hearings on which standardized tests Michigan students will begin taking next spring. Goodbye Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), hello Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Opponents say it takes away local control, while those who favor it say it better predicts a student's comprehension. We found out more about this computer-based testing on today's show.

Then, we continued on the subject of schools and asked: Are zero-tolerance policies actually keeping kids out of trouble? A new study says not so much.

And, Michigan’s University Research Corridor is making huge contributions to the state economy. We spoke with Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University, to learn more.

Finally, a new documentary explores Michigan’s history with the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad.  

This month marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the saddest chapters in Michigan history. It’s called The Italian Hall Disaster, a terrible tragedy that happened on Christmas Eve, 1913, in the Upper Peninsula town of Calumet. Someone yelled "Fire!" in a packed hall and the resulting stampede killed 73--60 of them children.

It happened during the Copper Country Strike, one of the most painful chapters in Michigan's labor history.

The Copper Country Strike of 1913 and the Italian Hall Disaster is the subject of new documentary called “Red Metal,” soon to air on PBS. It is drawn from a book about the disaster called Death’s Door, written by Steve Lehto. He’s a historian with ties to the Copper Country that go back to that bitter time.

Steve Lehto joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Renewable resources, such as wind and solar, are likely to supply 10% of Michigan electricity by 2015, as state law mandates. On today’s program, we looked at a recent report that says we could be doing more, boosting the number to 30% by 2035.

Then, the losing streak of Medora, Indiana's high school basketball team compelled two Michigan filmmakers to move there, and to tell the story of this small industrial town and the people who live there.

And, federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to slash its public pension and healthcare benefits. What will this mean for Detroit retirees?

First on the show, it was one year ago this day that the State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder passed a set of bills into law that made some very contentious history in our State.

On December 11th, 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

One year later, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

We were joined for this discussion by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard, and, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Block.

MedoraFilm

It began with a New York Times feature story about a struggling boys' high school basketball team in a tiny town in southern Indiana.

The story of the 0-22 Medora Hornets so gripped a pair of Ann Arbor filmmakers that they picked up and moved to struggling, hardscrabble Medora, Indiana for a full year to follow the team as it fought for just one win.

In doing so, Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn discovered layers and layers of compelling stories, which they have packed into a powerful documentary.

"Medora," which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, is now being screened all around Michigan.

There will be a live screening tomorrow night in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater. Additional screenings will be held in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo (see listings here).

Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn joined us today (listen to the interview above).

Watch a trailer for the film below, and here's a link to their website.

MEDORA OFFICIAL TRAILER from beachside on Vimeo.

user alkruse24 / Flickr

There is one thing that seems pretty clear about those of you who are Stateside listeners. Education matters to you! Whenever we talk about education, about our children, you are “all ears.”

Tomorrow at this time, you will not want to miss a powerful documentary produced by Jennifer Guerra for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. It’s called “The Education Gap.”

Jen Guerra joined us today to give us a preview.

Listen to the full interview above.

Very few people have experienced life on Antarctica, but a Michigan-born film director spent a year on the continent. On today's show: a conversation about his new film No Horizon Anymore: A Yearlong Journey to the South Pole.

And, we spoke to an astronomy professor from the University of Michigan about the history of UFOs in Michigan.

Also, is there a shortage of skilled workers in Michigan? Rick Haglund joined us to explain why there is no clear answer. 

First on the show, the primary election of 2013 is history. Now the focus shifts to the November general election.

For the two candidates who want to become Detroit's next mayor, it's time to take stock of the harsh realities facing the city and craft a clear campaign message that addresses those stark truths.

Stephen Henderson has been issuing that challenge from the pages of the Detroit Free Press throughout the campaign, and now that the two challengers have emerged from the primary, we wanted to get his thoughts.

Stephen Henderson, the Editorial Page Editor of the Detroit Free Press, joined us today.

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From growing up in Zeeland on Michigan's West Side to cooking for scientists at the South Pole, Keith Reimink has led a life that is, to say the least, fascinating.

Keith's job as a cook led him to spend a year at an Antarctic research center. He turned that experience into a documentary called "No Horizon Anymore."

Keith Reimink joined us today to talk about the experience.

Listen to the full interview above.

Boston Public Library / Flickr

Sadly, posting a photo or video from your smartphone onto Facebook or Twitter seems to have supplanted the good old postcard.

But there is a rich history to the American Picture Postcard and it centers on Detroit.

The "City That Put the World on Wheels" is also the city that turned out millions and millions of American postcards.

John Collier spent three decades as a photojournalist for the Detroit Free Press.

He is also a filmmaker who has turned his love of postcards into a documentary that’s called “My Postcard Collection: The Detroit Publishing Story: A History of the American Picture Postcard.”

John Collier joined us today in the studio.

For more information, go to http://www.mypostcardcollection.net/

Listen to the full interview above.

Twitter

In October 2010, the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines deployed to Afghanistan. They were sent to relieve the British Royal Marines in the southern Helmand Province, a hotbed of insurgent fighters and IEDs.

Twenty-five Marines in the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines did not come home.

One of those who did come home went on to become a student at Michigan State University. Former Marine sniper Logan Stark is now a senior in MSU's Professional Writing Program.

As a class project, Logan formed a three-member team that produced a documentary called "For the 25" dedicated to his fallen brothers in the "Dark Horse" battalion, which suffered the highest number of casualties in 2010 during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Logan Stark joined us in the studio today.

You can watch "For the 25" below.

Listen to the full interview above.

4exit4 / Vimeo

There’s been a lot of talk about changes in Detroit — who’s moving in, who’s moving out, who’s shaking things up.

But for all the clamor, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about one group in the city: women.

To get a look inside the lives of female Detroiters, check out "A Girl's Guide to Detroit," a mini-documentary by 4exit4 Productions.

From 4exit4’s Vimeo page:

It just may be the first honest campaign ad.

A tall, broad-shouldered man in a gray suit speaks directly to camera as he strides through Detroit.

Charlie Brooks is running for mayor.

And he wants to be clear: even with an emergency manager in charge, Brooks still believes the mayor's office plays a crucial role.

“I’ll take long vacations, so I can be well-rested. And each day at 4 p.m., I’ll bring tea to our [emergency manager]. Tea time!”

Yellow Wing Productions

This summer will mark 26 years since Northwest Flight 255 crashed onto the highway outside Detroit Metro Airport.

One hundred fifty-seven people were killed. The wreckage stretched across half a mile.

Only one person survived: a four-year-old girl with brown eyes, a chipped tooth, and purple nail polish.

Her name is Cecelia Cichan, and this week, she’s breaking her long public silence about the crash.

Andrey Belenko / Flickr

If you lived in Michigan in the summer of 1987, you might remember one news story that was set apart from the others. 

It was the evening of August 16 when Northwest flight 255 took off from Detroit Metro Airport, headed to Phoenix. Moments after the plane took off, the MD-80 tilted slightly -- enough for the left wing to clip a light pole, shear the top off of a rental car building, and crash where Middlebelt meets I-94. 

154 people aboard the plane and two on the ground were killed. But there was one survivor: four-year-old Cecilia Cichan. 

Cecelia Cichan shows a tattoo of an airplane she has on her wrist. She speaks about being the sole survivor of the crash of NW flight 255 out of Detroit in a documentary. WDIV aired clips of that documentary.
screen shot / WDIV

Filming has wrapped on a documentary featuring the only survivor of the 1987 plane crash near Detroit.

Twenty-five years after Northwest Flight 255 killed some 150 passengers, Cecelia Cichan is telling her story publicly for the first time.

She was just four years old when she survived the crash that killed her parents and brother. Now she and 13 other lone survivors of commercial crashes are the focus of the film entitled "Sole Survivor."

screengrab from Ellen DeGeneres

An Ann Arbor-area teen took on the MPAA and won.

Bob Needham from AnnArbor.com writes that earlier this year, high-schooler Katy Butler started an online petition urging the Motion Picture Association of America to change its rating of the forthcoming documentary "Bully" from R to PG-13. Butler gathered over half a million signatures in hopes of making the film accessible to younger viewers, Needham says, and now it appears she has achieved her goal.

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