Lake Michigan Film Festival Comes To Studio C

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EAST LANSING, Mich.—The first weekend in March brought with it the chance for some artists to showcase their films during the Michigan Film Festival, hosted in Okemos at Studio C next to the Meridian Mall. The event, which began April 29, featured 40 films throughout the weekend, some of which were directed by Michigan State University students and faculty. 

Pamphlets and flyers for the Lake Michigan Film Festival

“It used to be that there would be one day during the 10- day festival, with multiple venues where we would focus on films made in Michigan, and that expanded to become the Lake Michigan Film competition where we invited filmmakers from the states that border Lake Michigan to participate: Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan,” said Erika Noud, director of the Lake Michigan Film Festival.

The Lake Michigan Film Festival was born out of the East Lansing Film Festival as a  spin-off event where filmmakers from the states surrounding Lake Michigan could enter their projects instead of just Michigan-based filmmakers. The nonprofit organization was first founded in 1997 and has been putting on these film events.

“Filmmakers would submit their films, documentaries, short films and student films, and then we would select some to take part in the competition,” Noud added. “We’ve had over the years so many people interested that instead of competing with ourselves we created a separate festival from the East Lansing Film Festival that just focuses on those regional and local films.”

The festival is also open to local talent looking to showcase their hard work. This year’s Lake Michigan Film Festival included work from MSU students and faculty, one of which was a film by Geri Alumit Zeldes, a professor of documentary and film in the School of Journalism. 

“I thought it was a really good fit, my film, because it was filmed in Flint, and I know that they were looking for films that were local and regional so Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, that kind of thing, and was fortunate enough, although its a dated film, it was first released in 2021,” Zeldes said.
Zeldes’ 2021 documentary “Breed & Bootleg” was featured as the final film of the festival weekend. The documentary explores the early rap scene in Flint, and specifically focuses on the career of Eric T. Breed, known professionally as MC Breed, and Ira ‘Bootleg’ Dorsey, a previous member of the Dayton Family rap group.

The film dives deep into the rich rap music scene in Flint over the last few decades and lets audiences behind the scenes with the artists know for “Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin”, including interviews with some of MC Breed’s friends and family members. 

 “So I just started talking to people and they kept centering on one particular figure, and that person was MC Breed, who grew up in Flint and became the first commercially successful rapper from the Midwest,” Zeldes said. “He moved down to Atlanta, came back to Michigan when he was on his downward spiral and passed away when he was 37. But he left this legacy of music that has continued to inspire other musicians in Flint.”

An Eisel stands in front of screening room 2 for “Breed & Bootleg”

MSU student Audra Skuodaite also had her short film “Skating Free” accepted to the festival. 

“Having made this short documentary, I submitted it to a number of different festivals, and the Lake Lansing Film Festival was one of them,” Skuodaite said. I was really happy to have my

film recognized by a local festival, especially given that my story is about a roller derby community here in Lansing.” 

Skuodaite says her inspiration for the film came from her own personal experience. Her friend got her into roller derby, which inspired the film.

“I always find inspiration in my personal experiences. I have a friend who plays roller derby, and she invited me to go come to Detroit and see a Roller Derby game,” Skuodaite added. “Before moving to the U.S., I hadn’t even heard of this sport. So I was very curious to see what it is all about. Although I could barely understand what was happening, and the rules seemed very confusing, I couldn’t help but notice that it was a very special community. It struck me as a very supportive, fun and diverse community.” 

As the Lake Michigan Film Festival has ended, Michigan filmmakers have the East Lansing Film Festival to look forward to in fall of this year. Details for the upcoming festival can be found at 

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