Empty buildings resemble abandoned shoebox dioramas in Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's Detropia. These empty often grandiose buildings lend the documentary a remote sort of poignancy, along with the impression globalization was an experiment taken on with the gravity of a middle school science fair. Ewing and Grady (Jesus Camp) bookend the trials of the struggling masses with the plight of the city's failing Opera, upon which neighboring businesses rely for survival—it's this city's only indication Reaganomics isn't a killer virus. Structurally, the film balances an anthropologist's view and the squishy warmth of This American Life, with a structure that feels like many episodes of that NPR radio show strung together. The romance almost reaches syrup-tapping Wes Anderson levels, which may seem a bit uncomfortable for a documentary, but becomes a buffer from the painful privations doled out by local government and a stop-gap for the compassion fatigue we see on the horizon. If our authorities were thinking like children when they planned our economic futures (or economic war paths, depending on your perspective), then they likely had amnesia for the punishments we suffered when we were younger. From civil rights strife, to the loss of over half their manufacturing jobs, and major cutbacks on public transportation, Detroit can't help seeming like a premonition for America's future—or put another way, our nation's puberty looks desperate and bleak.
Contact: Loki Films firstname.lastname@example.org
Directors/Producers: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
Running time: 90 min.