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A film tribute to the Windsorite Walter Perry and his annual celebration of Emancipation held each August 1st from 1933 to 1968.

A film tribute to the Windsorite Walter Perry and his annual celebration of Emancipation held each August 1st from 1933 to 1968. Read more
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About this project

The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth is a documentary tribute to the larger than life, rascal Walter Perry.  He created one of the  largest celebrations of African American–African Canadian culture each August 1st in "South Detroit", better known as Windsor, Ontario. Between 1934 to 1968, the Greatest Freedom Show on Earth saw the the town's population double over night for the three day celebration of the British Emancipation Act. This act was responsible for the freeing of slaves in the British empire, some fourty years before the Lincolns' declaration. 

Emancipation Parade 1957 Windsor/Detroit Tunnel
Emancipation Parade 1957 Windsor/Detroit Tunnel

The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth, a showcase for new musical talent saw the introduction of new Black artists, such as Stevie Wonder and 15-year-old Diana Ross, who won the talent competition in 1959, with her band the Primettes, later renamed the Supremes, taking the first prize of $75.

The Greatest Freedom Show, Windsor 2011
The Greatest Freedom Show, Windsor 2011
Our First Day of Shooting July 2011
Our First Day of Shooting July 2011
Vignette Shooting Script
Vignette Shooting Script
Storyboard Vignette Detroit River 1840s
Storyboard Vignette Detroit River 1840s
Dilys, Henry, Jerusah and the Rev. Anthony Bailey, Parkdale United Church (c) Orphan Boy Films
Dilys, Henry, Jerusah and the Rev. Anthony Bailey, Parkdale United Church (c) Orphan Boy Films
Preston Chase channeling Lyle Browning
Preston Chase channeling Lyle Browning
Rj Huggins channeling Walter Perry
Rj Huggins channeling Walter Perry

Actual Audio from the Bandshell of "The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth" circa 1959, "America the Beautiful" -- The Troubadours - courtesy The Walter Perry Freedom Foundation

The documentary's tells this important story in two parts:

Episode One: The first episode sets the stage and focuses on the British Act of Parliament that began the fleeing of slaves through the Detroit / Windsor border. The episode covers the perilous journey that families took to cross the river into Windsor from the US, and the important role that the church and gospel music played in bringing them to freedom.

Episode Two: Our second Episode focuses on the celebration that saw Windsor's population double with African American/Canadians each August 1st.

Risks and challenges

All film projects have inherent risks to the schedule as production progresses through the various stages from planning through shooting to post production. The benefit of this project is that much of this film has already been shot and is in the editing stage.

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    Pledge CA$ 10 or more About $10

    A PDF of the Greatest Freedom Show on Earth documentary script right before the film premieres.

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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $24

    The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth film soundtrack, digitally remastered from the lost archives of the Emancipation celebrations from 1940s to the early 1960s.

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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $49

    Colour movie poster for The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth. 11 x 17.

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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $97

    The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth movie t-shirt.

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    Pledge CA$ 150 or more About $146

    Invitation to a special screening of The Greatest Freedom Show on Earth film in Windsor, Ottawa, Montreal, Detroit, or New York. Dates to be announced.

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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $194

    Executive Producer credit on the movie.

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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $194

    Detroit River crossing storyboard vignettes. Set of nine images, on 24 x 32.

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    Pledge CA$ 1,000 or more About $972

    The original basket used in the filming of the movie.

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    Pledge CA$ 1,500 or more About $1,458

    27-Star 1840 period US flag from the movie.

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    Pledge CA$ 5,000 or more About $4,859

    The cast iron slave collar from the movie–based on an actual Smithsonian Institute collar.

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Funding period

- (33 days)