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Flint, MI—Nearly 300 people attended the worldwide premiere of “Flint Tale,” a movie about a family’s struggle to lead a normal life in the wake of the Flint water crisis.
The crowd of attendees, including some of the movie’s cast and crew, managed to fill two theatres inside Grand Blanc’s NCG Cinema Trillium. Though the movie premiered in late 2019 in LA and had showings in Las Vegas, Detroit, and Miami in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a wide-scale release to be postponed.
The show was prefaced by a short red carpet event where members of the production, including director Marc Cayce and actor Hawthorne James, spoke about the film.
When asked about the motivation behind the movie, Cayce cited “awareness” as his driving factor.
“I want the world not to forget how this city was poisoned. It’s very important, especially now that we don’t just brush everything under the rug,” Cacey said. “Flint is still hurting right now. You’ve got pipes inside homes that still need to be changed.”
Approximately 85 percent of the movie was filmed in Flint, with well-known area landmarks like Angelo’s Coney Island, Flint City Hall, and Hurley Medical Center used as part of the the movie’s backdrop. Many of the movies’ scenes were also filmed inside a Flint house.
Cacey said shooting on location was essential to making the movie work a that local talent with knowledge of the crisis was necessary to make his vision work.
“Filming in Flint was very important. I wanted to meet the people, meet the culture and do it right. I thought it was important to be authentic. I also thought it was important for the people here to have an opportunity to showcase their skills. I wanted the people of Flint to see themselves truly represented in a movie about them,” Cacey said.
Cacey included music from Ira ‘Bootleg’ Dorsey of the Dayton Family. He also worked with a handful of Flint locals including Sharon Reeves, Gwen Perryman-Lemphill, and Gordon P. Strozier.
Actor Hawthorne James, who played disgraced police chief Daniel Hartwell said Flint Tale was a passion project. He played the role pro bono.
“This is a much-needed film for a topic that needs much more attention. It is ridiculous that this crisis is still going on, that children who suffered from its effects will never be the same. It’s something I very much wanted to do,” James said.
Details are yet to be released on future screenings, though Cacey announced at the premiere that Flint Tale will be show at select theaters in the U.S and Great Britain soon.
Originally from Chicago, James spent the last two years of high school and all of college living in Southeastern Flint. There, he said, he had an opportunity to see Flint in its prime. Coming back and seeing it nearly 50 years later was “kind of depressing,” he said.
“You know, back then it was Flint and Detroit, everybody had a job, everybody did something. You could go up to Flint and get a job for General Motors. Seeing how many businesses have shut down, I was like wow, it’s different than it was when I was a teenager,” James said.
When it came to his hopes for the movie and its message, James echoed Cacey’s sentiments.
“I want people to keep the (water crisis) at the forefront of their thoughts. This problem is still happening and people should understand that it is not a problem that’s gone away,” Cacey said