Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Detroit on Film

The power of “Brand Detroit.” I’ve talked about it many times. It’s the power of a city that draws the world’s attention. Not all of it good, but attention nevertheless. In a region of cities that all too often see themselves as lacking identity to themselves much less a brand in the world, Detroit stands apart. Like a Chicago or Los Angeles, the stories of Detroit overflow the page. This is a place with resonance. A place that matters.

One way this manifests itself is in the huge number of books, articles, photos, and films that have been made of the city. Recently Brewed Fresh Daily out of Cleveland pointed me at a Buzzfeed thread that had a collection of short films about Detroit. Some of these are longer than you might be used to watching in an internet video, but they are well worth checking out when you have the time.

Lemonade: Detroit

The first one is an inspirational video called “Lemonade: Detroit.” I’ll leave the description to the film maker:

Bad news is sensational. It’s the stuff of prime time exposés and gotcha news hours. People are attracted to bad news for the same reason they slow down past car accidents and watch horror movies: It’s impossible to turn away.

Thankfully, the same can be said for good news. Instead of sensationalizing blight, one new film will sensationalize hope. “Lemonade: Detroit” is about the disarming resilience of a city that is searching for an identity beyond a single industry, as told through the intensely personal stories of people who are actively reinventing the Motor City.

There have been far too many films about what’s wrong in Detroit. Far too many journalistic opinions claiming to offer hope that in reality glorify ruin. “Lemonade: Detroit” will make hope, optimism, and positivity as intriguing to watch as a train wreck.

Every character in “Lemonade: Detroit” is beating heavy odds placed on them by a world that expects failure. Documenting the struggle isn’t the point. Overcoming it is. These are the stories that must be told.

If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.

Real Scene: Detroit

Detroit has one of America’s richest musical legacies. The producers of this short film take a look at that history, focusing on techno, and especially on the scene around the music, not just the industry itself. Beyond the history, there’s also a bit of a look of what’s going on today. And it features a great soundtrack. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.

Detroit Bike City

Here’s a pretty good video talking about Detroit’s bike culture. The thing I love about this one is how it shows the diversity of Detroit’s biking scene that goes well beyond the stereotypical hipster fixie rider. If the video doesn’t display click here.

Detroit Wildlife

This last one I had serious reservations about including because it is sheer exploitation – ruin porn in its purest form. It’s called “Detroit Wildlife” and it’s most reprehensible for the way it equates the residents of Detroit both with the ruins of the city and the actual wildlife found there. This was apparently a type of “demo reel” the film maker put together to raise funds to make an actual documentary called “Detroit Wild City” that I’ve not seen. I include it here to show what it is Detroit has become in the minds of too many outsiders. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.

Topics: Urban Culture
Cities: Detroit

2 Responses to “Detroit on Film”

  1. Zathras says:

    It’s hard not to read a racist tinge in the Detroit wildlife video.

  2. the urban politician says:

    These last few Detroit posts have been interesting.

    While I am happy to see that there is still so much passion to revive Detroit, I am concerned that it could be too little, too late.

    I would change my opinion if, for example, Detroit had bottomed out. The reality is, it still appears to be declining. As you brought up elsewhere, there are still 10 demolition permits for every building permit. This is absurd. By 2030, Detroit will be a downtown surrounded by wilderness.

    There is no solution, IMO, other than to dramatically shrink itself. There is no way that city can manage so much land.

    Interestingly, I see similar parallels on Chicago’s far south and west sides. Many parts of those areas have no hope, I really wish Chicago would turn them into separate municipalities that fend for themselves.

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