Writer and director Rola Nashef teamed up with local producer Leon Toomey and Michigan investors to assemble a 100% Detroit-based cast and crew to present her feature film “Detroit Unleaded.” After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, being shown all over the world and selling out shows here in Detroit, this award-winning dramedy is coming to Hulu – for free!
The film is a new take on the traditional boy-meets-girl story. The plot follows the young and ambitious Sami after his father’s death, as he takes over the family gas station. Set in a Detroit neighborhood, the gas station becomes more than just a pit stop for rolling papers and fake perfume: it’s a turnstile of memorable characters. Sami works behind the bulletproof glass with his cousin, who dreams of expansion. But, when the beautiful Najlah walks in, Sami’s routine is shifted and he quickly falls for her. Fearful of her brother Fadi’s disapproval, Najlah enters into a secret relationship with Sami.
Nashef was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema, and won the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. As a part of the Lebanese and Arab-American communities in Detroit, many of Nashef’s own experiences are reflected in her film.
“I first saw bulletproof glass in gas stations when I moved here. In every neighborhood, I would encounter Arab men behind the glass, their voices muffled and their images always distorted. While gas stations made money, I had to ask myself, ‘this is the American dream?’ I felt that sitting in a gas station for hours on end must actually distort your own vision of the world much more than just physically,” Nashef said.
Nashef’s entire cast and crew came from the Detroit area, including editor and Quicken Loans team member Nathanael Sherfield.
“One of the things I appreciated most about working on this film is that the team was willing to take the time to get it right. Rola wrote all of these layers in the script, and we worked hard in the edit to allow those to shine through. It’s a very funny film, but there’s also drama, romance, subtle social commentary, and its all told from a unique cultural perspective. So it was a delicate balancing act to find the right amount of each of those to tell the story the way it needed to be told,” Sherfield said.
“Detroit Unleaded” was truly a community effort from start to finish. And, now, you can watch it on Hulu. Share the film, and be a part of that effort.
Hulu works like this: the more people who watch the film, the more people will see it. The more views the film receives, the higher it reads within the results on the site. By watching and sharing it on social media, you can support the film and help show people what the Detroit film community has to offer!