Freep Film Festival opening night features Downriver sports film

Freep Film Festival opening night features Downriver sports film

The 11th annual Freep Film Festival kicked off Wednesday evening with an energetic, sold-out crowd for the screening of “Rouge,” a documentary on a storied Downriver basketball program, at the Detroit Film Theatre.

The film tells the story of the River Rouge High School Panthers, the winningest high school boys basketball program in Michigan history.

“River Rouge, places like Taylor, where I went to high school, they have so many stereotypes and misrepresentation, so it’s exciting to be here to be able to bring respect and recognition to a community like River Rouge that it’s deserved for so long,” said producer Razi Jafri.

The crowd erupted in applause and cheers, honoring the Panthers and the River Rouge community.

River Rouge's 1950s championship teammates take a group photo at the premiere of "Rouge," a documentary film screened on the opening night of the Freep Film Festival at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of Arts on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The documentary is directed and produced by Hamoody Jaafar, a Downriver native who grew up watching the team.

“This means the world to me because I’m from Downriver, it’s tied to my childhood, so I couldn’t be more proud about that,” said Jaafar, who hopes the film will shed light on the community of River Rouge beyond its challenges.

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