Roof and Courtyard
232 Third St. at 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215
F/G to Carroll St. or R to Union
|8:00 PM||Doors Open|
|8:30 PM||Live Music|
|9:00 PM||Film Begins|
|11:00 PM-12:30 AM||Reception in Courtyard|
Detropia (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady | USA | 90 min.)
Documentarians Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady have proven themselves masters of the vérité approach with the first-rate documentaries Jesus Camp and 12th and Delaware. Their latest topical effort, Detropia delivers a snapshot of Detroit's dire financial straits and struggling middle class. This screening is part of Rooftop Films and XO Projects' INDUSTRIANCE Series about the changing landscape in global industries and its impact on individuals.
The bulk of the movie is a collage of Detroit residents complaining about the city's downward economic spiral. As the auto industry flails, countless organizations dependent on their support fight to stay alive. Union workers bemoan cutbacks and proclaim they have nothing to lose. A local blogger waxes nostalgic about the city's faded dreams of building a 21st-century metropolis. Together they form a radiant collage of decay.
From the mournful opener until the closing montage, Detropia successfully generates a distinct sense of place. Ewing and Grady seem to cover every inch of the city, from the cavernous opera house to drab office interiors and graffiti-covered alleyways.
Detropia stabilizes its narrative with a fair share of empirical observations. For instance, the revelation that the Detroit Opera House relies on the three big automakers for 70% of its funding pairs with the use of its performances as part of the film's score. The music itself is a record of the city's dying state.
The most talkative subject, United Auto Workers Union chapter president George McGregor, predicts the downfall of the middle class not only in Detroit but around the country. However, polemics aside, the movie embraces a raw, urban beauty that sustains it through a somewhat aimless trajectory. Minutes go by before anyone says a word; instead, Detropia launches into a sprawling portrait of Detroit in light and dark, setting the stage for an elaborate tragedy that it confronts in every subsequent moment.
- Eric Kohn