A Michigan divide? Documentary follows families in a fiery political year

Protest in Kalkaska

The documentary “Michigan Divided” premieres March 14 and will be shown across the state.

"Michigan Divided" debuts March 14, 2018

The documentary “Michigan Divided” premieres March 14 and will be shown across the state.

This is what a divide looks like: an East Lansing mom who can’t understand conservatives and a Harbor Springs woman who can’t understand liberals; a U.P. couple looking for jobs, and a Muslim couple searching for security. On the west side of the state, a Grand Rapids businessman wants lower taxes. And on the east side, a Flint homeowner just wants clean water.

Michigan Divided,” a documentary by Bridge Magazine and The Center for Michigan, follows six families through a tumultuous year of politics to see if they can find common ground.  

“It’s like they’re gangs…like we’re the Crips and they’re the Bloods,” a frustrated Flint native Marlando Wade says about the partisan strife in the film. “They don’t realize people are getting hurt in their turf war.”

Michigan Divided” will premiere March 14 at a free public policy conference hosted by The Center for Michigan in the Huntington Club conference facility at Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

The full-day conference, which focuses on good government and is open to the public, will cover a variety of issues, ranging from Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure to the health of our cities, to ballot issues voters may face in November. The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and includes continental breakfast and lunch.

Reserve your seat today.

Related: Meet the powerhouse panel for our March 14 Michigan Good Government Summit
Related: See the film on 
March 22 in Detroit for our Michigan Prosperity Summit
Coming soon: Michigan Truth Tour stops all over the state will show the film in full

“Michigan Divided” is a film version of a year-long Bridge Magazine project of the same name that followed 11 people from across the state in  2017.

“It feels like people have a completely different view of reality,” former Michigan Republican Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema says in the film. Former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Bob Emerson agreed, adding: “It’s ‘You’re wrong, and I don’t have to listen to you any more, I can unfriend you.’”

The documentary sprang from concern that Michigan was slipping into the partisan divides afflicting much of the country, with some residents losing an ability to see the good in people with whom they disagree. This as the state faces critical decisions this election year on crumbling infrastructure and schools, jobs and taxes.

“It’s easy to shout and pass blame, but the problems we all face every day in Michigan can’t be solved by shouting,” said Michigan Divided film director Al Lilly. “If this movie can motivate just one person to start a conversation with someone they disagree with, I’ll consider it a success.”

The documentary will next be shown March 22, at Bridge Magazine’s Personal Prosperity Solutions Summit at the College for Creative Studies, in the General Motors Auditorium within the Taubman Center, 460 W. Baltimore St., Detroit.

To see other upcoming showings of the documentary around the state, or to inquire about setting up a showing for a group in your community, visit www.michigandivided.com.  


March 14 - Bridge Magazine's Good Government/A Great Place to Live Solutions Summit

12 - 1:15 (including Q+A) at Huntington Club in Spartan Stadium, 325 W Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48824RSVP here

March 20 - Michigan Municipal League's Capitol Conference

1:15 – 2:30 at the Lansing Center, 333 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48933

March 22 - Bridge Magazine's Personal Prosperity Solutions Summit

College for Creative Studies Taubman Center, 460 W Baltimore St, Detroit, MI 48202RSVP here

April 17 – Calvin College and Grand Rapids Partners

Prince Conference Center Great Hall, 1800 E Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546RSVP here

May 1 - Michigan Works! Ogemaw

In West Branch, exact location and time TBD

May 2 - Otsego County Community Foundation

Gaylord High School, Gornick Auditorium, 90 Livingston Blvd., Gaylord, MI 49735RSVP here

August 24 -Boyne Area District Library

2-3: 30 pm at the Boyne District Library, 201 E Main St, Boyne City, MI 49712

October 10 - City of Grand Haven and the Loutit District Library

7 - 8:30 pm at the Loutit District Library, 407 Columbus Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417

Interested in organizing a viewing party in your community?

Don’t see your community on list of upcoming showings? Contact Amber DeLind, at 734-926-4285 or adelind@thecenterformichigan.net. The Center’s public engagement team will work with you to set up a screening and follow-up discussion with you as part of the Michigan Truth Tour!

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Thu, 03/01/2018 - 11:23am

Since the movie is produced by Bridge, we already know what it says. In short form, all people get the same result, but only the rich pay for it. Hey, the Constitution guarantees equal opportunity. It does not guarantee equal result. Keep your darn hands out of my pockets and quit trying to find ways to get more of my hard earned assets. You live in a 5#@t hole city, that’s ok by me. Just leave my house alone.

Jeanne Randels
Thu, 03/01/2018 - 11:27am

This is great, Ron! Congratulations. The clips worked perfectly. And Ilove the poster, too.

Kevin Grand
Sun, 03/04/2018 - 9:54am

So inquiring minds want to know: will you post the entire doco online afterwards?

Bill Emkow
Mon, 03/05/2018 - 4:07pm

We're currently discussing the best way to handle the use of this documentary online, whether it be in full or in multiple clips, Kevin. Stay tuned!

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 12:25pm

I watched the promos and they are interesting. I am looking forward to seeing the full documentary. It's nice to continue to dialogue and show reasonable people from all sides sharing their beliefs. Thanks for your work.