Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing‘s moving documentary, DETROPIA is a love letter to the once-upon-a-time might of the blue-collar metropolis of Detroit. It is a film than gleans a beauty from the broken and hears a poetry emanating from the wreckage. DETROPIA moves at a lyrical pace, a tempo nearing a dangerous waltz, weaving its way through a city once swollen with ambition, now a graveyard of the American dream. It honors the stories of its’ chorus of characters – their pride, their resilience and their astonishing wherewithal. The filmmakers offer Detroit to us as an American Everyman, as a cautionary tale and thus, as a means of sounding the alarm. This is happening. The dilapidation, the abandoned storefronts, the death of beginnings, the slipping away – can be any one of so many of our middle America cities.
As Caroline Libresco exquisitely writes, “Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century – the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now…the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution.”