Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Weekend B.O. Dec. 19-21 (Sony's Grateful for Small Blessings, while Paramount Blew it) Weekend B.O. Dec. 19-21 (Sony's Grateful for Small Blessings, while Paramount Blew it) Ava DuVernay Has Multi-Episode TV Series on "Black Experience in America" in the Works Ava DuVernay Has Multi-Episode TV Series on "Black Experience in America" in the Works Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Preview: Jessica Williams of 'The Daily Show' Makes Leading Lady Debut in 'Tap Shoes & Violins' Preview: Jessica Williams of 'The Daily Show' Makes Leading Lady Debut in 'Tap Shoes & Violins' '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic The Best of Black Television in 2014 The Best of Black Television in 2014 Review: Chris Rock's 'Top Five' Took Me Places I Wouldn't Expect a Chris Rock Film to Go Review: Chris Rock's 'Top Five' Took Me Places I Wouldn't Expect a Chris Rock Film to Go The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Review: 'Detropia' (Moving, Avant-Garde Portrait Of A Once Economically Vibrant City) Opens TODAY

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act September 7, 2012 at 5:21PM

This haunting piece of documentary cinema tells the story of one city in economic decay; but really, as the real people in the film repeatedly state, this isn't just a Detroit problem; it's an American problem, and other cities within the country will eventually experience a similar fate; that is unless something is done to reverse trends brought about by what we call globalization, as captains of industry make decisions based almost entirely on the need to generate profit.
0
detropia

This haunting piece of documentary cinema tells the story of one city in economic decay; but really, as the real people in the film repeatedly state, this isn't just a Detroit problem; it's an American problem, and other cities within the country will eventually experience a similar fate; that is unless something is done to reverse trends brought about by what we call globalization, as captains of industry make decisions based almost entirely on the need to generate profit.

It's business as usual, and what you'll see and hear in Detropia won't necessarily be anything you haven't already seen and heard before - notably, the results of the exporting of jobs to countries that provide cheaper labor (meaning wage cuts, and layoffs for those already in despair), and how quickly the USA went from being a top manufacturer and exporter of goods in the early half of the 20th century, to primarily exporting services and importing goods manufactured in other countries around the world (China especially) today.

It's a question that Detropia asks; and it doesn't provide all the answers, but I don’t think that's the filmmakers' intent.

Natives of Detroit, co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, are more interested in those who remain in that diminishing city - once a vibrant metropolis with almost 2 million inhabitants not-so-long ago, as workers (including many African Americans escaping the Jim Crow south) migrated north in search of jobs within all those then flourishing auto manufacturing plants, leading to a rise in the middle class; but now a city with around 700,000 people, a ghost of its former self, littered with abandoned buildings (skyscrapers and homes), empty lots and streets, that make it look as if a war broke out, or, as one person noted in the film, as if a bomb was dropped in the middle of the city.

But oddly enough it's that desolate, deserted look and feel, and accompanying deflated standard of living that make it alluring to some - artists especially.

The film is a result of 2 years of on the ground work in Detroit by the filmmakers, looking at a city (and really a country; or even world) in crisis.

Detroit’s story is emblematic of America's iconic economic history over the last century. The so-called American dream realized (or at least seemingly within reach for most), but now not even a dream, as the country's economy collapses, and it becomes a shadow of what it once was - or what we once believed it to be, whether myth or reality.

A once majestic city reeling on the edge of dissolution, what the film documents intimately and without direct commentary from the filmmakers (they're completely absent), Detropia could actually be regarded as an apocalyptic story. You can almost hear the helicopters flying above the city calling for the remaining inhabitants to evacuate for their own safety and survival.

But despite the despair on display, the canvass is quite vivid and painterly, creating something oddly beautiful and transfixing of all that desolation. And it's aided by a calmly haunting soundtrack.

Those that still remain (a few of them make up the film's core representatives of that city's heavily African American working class) do so with nerve and defiance, even as city leaders, themselves perplexed and seemingly helpless, provide no real solutions; a motley group of men and women of varying ages, mournful realists and thinkers, who aren't quite yet ready to give up and give in, working towards both making ends meet as well as making sense of their plight in the so-called Motor City, in postindustrial America, facing the prospects of a profoundly transformed future.

The conversations that are happening in the film are the same conversations that are happening daily around the country; it's certainly very topical and well-timed, making it difficult to watch and not become distressed at just how unforgiving our chosen economic system (aka capitalism) has been and can be, especially on those who exist at the bottom of society's hierarchy.

The film opens today in NYC at IFC Center, before expanding to other cities. It's a film that must be seen on the big screen.

And be sure to listen to me lengthy and insightful conversation with co-directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, posted earlier today HERE.

Trailer followed by a clip from the film below:

This article is related to: DETROPIA


Shadow & ActNewsletter