For the first time, the thought-provoking documentary 10 Questions for Henry Ford will be shown at the University of Michigan. The film will be made available for online streaming, free of charge, to all members of the University community from October 13 ‑21, 2022. In addition, a multidisciplinary panel discussion, entitled “How Henry Ford’s Ghost Haunts the Present,” will feature the filmmaker, Andy Kirshner, in conversation with a distinguished group of faculty from the University of Michigan. The panel discussion, including excerpts from the film, will take place in the Helmut Stern Auditorium at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) on October 19 at 7PM.
The innovative art film explores the complex historical and cultural legacy of Henry Ford. Drawing on rare documents, archival film, oral histories, and Ford’s personal notebooks, 10 Questions for Henry Ford seeks to balance the popular myth surrounding Michigan’s most famous native son with a more nuanced and historically accurate presentation of the man and his influence. It considers the profound (and enduring) impact of Ford’s antisemitic publications on fascist and White supremacist movements around the world, his brutal resistance to organized labor, and the destructive effects of his autocratic personality on his talented son, Edsel. A trailer of the film can be viewed here.
Since its release in 2021, the film has won accolades and has been shown around the country in film festivals, educational institutions, and more. Directed by Stamps Associate Professor Andy Kirshner, 10 Questions for Henry Ford has surprised audiences with its unvarnished look at one of the leading industrialists of the 20th century.
“What I wanted to do with this film was to distinguish the popular myth of Henry Film from historical reality,” said Kirshner. “Since we premiered the film last Fall, I’ve been shocked to find that, even here in Michigan, many people know almost nothing about who Ford really was. He was a very complicated man — innovative and ignorant, generous and cruel, peace-loving and brutal. He’s a perfect window into the complexity of American History – the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
Beginning today, all members of the University community can sign up to watch the film, free of charge, via online streaming, between October 13 ‑21, 2022. The panel event at UMMA is free and open to the public and will be moderated by Angela D. Dillard, the Richard A Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and a Professor in the Residential College. Dillard also serves as the Chair of the Department of History and Professor of History. She specializes in American and African-American intellectual history, particularly around issues of race, religion, and politics — on both the Left and the Right sides of the political spectrum, and maintains an active interest in urban studies. Her book, Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit focuses on the interconnections of religion and political radicalism in Detroit from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Joining Dillard on the panel will be:
Kerstin Barndt is an Associate Chair in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, an Associate Professor of German Studies, and the Director of the Museum Studies Program. Her research and teaching focus on the literary and exhibition cultures of the long twentieth century with a current emphasis on museum history and exhibition culture. Her article, “Fordist Nostalgia: History and Experience at the Henry Ford” critically investigates the historical imaginary and “radical presentism” of The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan by situating The Henry Ford in the context of World’s Fairs and living history museums.
William Calvo-Quirós is an Assistant Professor of American Culture. His early scholarship focuses on car subcultures, race, and class and how cars manifest American values and anxieties. Current research interests include aesthetics and cultural studies, critical race theory, gender and sexuality, ethnography research and theory, and decolonial methods and theory. In addition to a Ph.D in Chicana and Chicano Studies, he holds a Ph.D in Industrial Design.
Deborah Dash Moore is the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of History and a former director of the Frankel Center for Jewish Studies. Her academic specialties include American Jewish History, Documentary Photography, and 20th-Century Urbanization, Migration, and Acculturation. She has also engaged in a number of major editorial projects, including the three-volume award-winning City of Promises (2012 NYU Press) and serving as editor-in-chief of the ten-volume anthology, The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization.
Andy Kirshner holds a joint appointment as Associate Professor of Performing Arts Technology in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and Associate Professor of Art and Design in the Stamps School of Art and Design. Both a composer and a filmmaker, he uses film, theatre, music, dance, and archival research to explore complex social and historical questions. He is the writer, director, composer, and producer of 10 Questions for Henry Ford.
The event is sponsored by the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design; the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies; the School of Music, Theatre & Dance; the Museum Studies Program; the Department of History; the Department of American Culture; and the Department of Film, Television, and Media of LSA.