In 1930, not only was Detroit the fastest growing city in America, but the world. Now, though, Detroit has a deficit of $150 billion dollars. It has an official unemployment rate of 30%, although city leaders believe the actual rate to be near 50%. The FBI lists it as the second most dangerous city (its neighbour of Flint, Michigan is #1). Finally, the city has witnessed an exodus of its inhabitants as there are reportedly over 100 000 vacant lots in Detroit. What happened during the past 82 years that put a city that once embodied the American Dream into a state of poverty and decay? This question is explored in the provocative new documentary Detropia from Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Oscar nominated directors of Jesus Camp). Through their artful, even-handed, and observational approach, Ewing and Grady allow residents of Detroit to explore their once great city and make sense of what is happening.
I saw Detropia when it screened at Hot Docs in Toronto in May and I was quite compelled by the urgency of the film’s story. In my review, I called Detropia “a powerful and compelling portrait of contemporary America” and I wrote, “[I]t’s difficult to imagine that anyone could watch this film and not feel the need for change.” Detropia is a great film and one that needs to be seen.
Luckily, though, after screening at Sundance and Hot Docs, Detropia is getting a push from actor Alec Baldwin. Detropia will screen on July 21 by request from Baldwin at the Hamptons Summer Doc Series. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Baldwin and the filmmakers. (Heidi Ewing was on hand for a Q&A at Hot Docs and I found her post-screening discussion very engaging and insightful.) As Baldwin said to Indiewire, “Often, documentary films exploit archival footage to offer a perspective on social issues that are important. And, occasionally, the same effect is achieved through inspired, original filmmaking. Detropia is a compelling profile of a great American city by two truly gifted directors in Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.”
Tickets for the screenings are available for purchase at online or at the Guild Hall Box Office.
If you're interested in Detropia but cannot make it to Hamptons, please see the film's website for future screenings.
We will keep you up to date on Detropia and other favourites throughout the year.