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Guild Hall Screens "Detropia" Followed By Discussion With Filmmakers and Alec Baldwin

Originally Posted: July 20, 2012

Nicole Barylski

A scene from "Detropia". (Photo: Loki Films)

East Hampton - Oscar nominated filmmakers Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing whose resumes include "Jesus Camp" and "Freakonomics" will screen their new film "Detropia" on Saturday, July 21 2012, at Guild Hall as part of the Hampton's Summer Doc Series. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Alec Baldwin and Rachel and Heidi.

"Detropia" is being described as having a vivid, painterly palette and haunting score which plays like poetry in motion as it sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. "Detropia" is a cinematic tapestry that chronicles the lives of several Detroiters trying to survive and make sense of what is happening to their city.

The name was inspired by Detroit meets utopia. Detroit was the utopian dream for so many people; African Americans came from the South to work in factories 50 years ago with the promise of a utopian middle class lifestyle. Now the city is in a state of disutopia with civil law disintegrating in much of city. Many aspects of the city are falling apart, public transportation does not work and it's a dog eat dog situation. The film acknowledges that there is question in which way the city is going to go.

For filmmaker Heidi Ewing part of the inspiration for the film was growing up in the Detroit area, her parents were born and raised there as well. While going back over the years to visit family and hearing what was going on, things seemed to be hitting critical mass for the city. She started talking about what was happening in Detroit with people from her office, and the co-producer of "Detropia" who is also from Detroit had seen the changes in the city also. In October of 2009, they decided to go there and film for a few days to see if their was a movie there and came back positive they had a meaningful story that the country at large could relate to.

For Heidi this was the most personal attachment she has had to a film. While filming she would drive by places she used to go with her grandmother that were no longer there and see all houses on street that had been taken down and it put into perspective what was going on in the city. She has a lot of high school friends who were still there or lived in the area. While filming she ran into people she hasn't seen in years which doesn't normally happen during filming.

While deciding what and who to film they talked to hundreds of Detroiters and asked them if they were making a film who they would like to film. For Heidi and Rachel the development process was endless and went on for months, Heidi said, "You are trying to make a movie about a city in a moment in time which is difficult to capture." They wanted to show real people and the story of an entire city and for Heidi too many things ended up on cutting room floor. According to Heidi, Detroiters are salty people who have been through the mill and not clamoring to be filmed which made them great subjects because they didn't care whether you filmed them or not.

Filming took a little over a year, and during filming they settled on few main subjects but also allowed themselves to wander and follow up on leads they had heard about. Detroit was in the process of possibly shrinking itself and downsizing. Heidi and Rachael kept their ears to ground and kept in touch with the Mayor's office to make sure they didn't miss anything.

One of the main topics addressed in the film is the future of our cities and not just Detroit. There are a lot of cities that are going bankrupt including five in California and four in Detroit. Their is a shrinking middle class, people who were once solidly middle class and had jobs offered by manufacturing have fallen possibly forever into "the working poor". This has happened to a lot of people in Detroit due to the outsourcing of jobs and downtick of manufacturing. Low skilled workers are having a hard time finding other jobs, are out of work and those who remain out of work are falling into poverty.

This is a national crisis happening in many states, and Heidi hopes the film will add to the conversation of looking into our country's problems and addressing changes that need to be made. She hopes that it will spark the an interest in the United States becoming more innovative, producing more things here and creating more industries that that will provide more job opportunities. For people who have worked in the manufacturing sector their entire lives, which describe a lot of people in Detroit, there are no job opportunities.

Heidi believes the country currently has the opportunity for reinvention. A quote from the film which for Heidi describes the situation we are in is, "where there is crisis there is opportunity". She thinks Americans can pull it together in places like Detroit with some creativity and collective action.

Heidi hopes that after seeing the film people look at Detroit as the canary in the coalmine for the US and that it inspires people to pay more attention to the bigger issues in the film which are being discussed in the upcoming election year. She thinks it will be a great point of reference for voters and people who want to weigh in on the direction of the country.

"Detropia" is being screened at Guild Hall on Saturday, July 21 2012, at 8 p.m.and opens in Manhattan on September, 7, 2012, at the IFC Center and on September 14, 2012, in select theaters.

To purchase tickets to the screening at Guild Hall visit, ( www.guildhall.com ) and for more information on "Detropia" visit ( lokifilms.com ). To watch the "Detropia" trailer visit detropia.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

Updated: July 17, 2012, 11:46 pm
Appeared In: the arts >> top stories