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INDEPENDENT LENS: Detropia

Airs Monday, May 27, 2013 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Illegal “scrapper.”

Detroit was the birthplace of the middle class, an industrial utopia where anyone who worked hard enough could experience the American Dream. Today, Detroit is on the brink of bankruptcy. In the past ten years, this iconic Midwestern city has lost 25 percent of its population and 50 percent of its manufacturing jobs.

Courtesy of Tony Hardmon

The Train Station, Detroit

Courtesy of Craig Atkinson

American Coney Island, Detroit

Courtesy of Tony Hardmon

Steve and Dorota Coy are visual and performance artists who live in Detroit. Together they make up The Hygenic Dress League, an art project meant to send up capitalism and corporate America.

Talkback

Do you live in a community threatened by urban decay? How are people trying to improve the situation? Is there hope of rising from the ashes? Share your story

Local officials are in the midst of the most dramatic “downsizing” of an American city ever seen: demolishing thousands of homes, reconsolidating massive tracts of excess land, cutting basic services, and even encouraging Detroiters in the most marginal neighborhoods to move.

Detroiters who have stuck with the city are at the breaking point. Despite these desperate conditions, there is still an allure to Detroit artists; curious outsiders flock to the city in search of inspiration and opportunity.

Produced and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady ("12th & Delaware," "Jesus Camp"), "Detropia" premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 27, 2013.

"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 owner of a blues bar, a young blogger, an auto union rep, a group of young artists, an opera impresario, and a gang of illegal “scrappers.” This unlikely chorus illuminates the tale of both a city and a country in a soul-searching mood, desperate for a new identity.

“Our film – part love letter, part cautionary tale – enters the world of Detroiters who could leave if they wanted, but have chosen to stick with a city that so desperately needs them,” says Ewing and Grady. “They represent the resilience of Americans who are facing a quickly changing world. We are thrilled to share their story with the rest of the country.”

How Detroit rebuilds itself will set an example for countless other post-industrial cities with similar fates. Today the entire country is watching to see if this storied metropolis has the courage, creativity, and grit to reinvent itself.

"Detropia" is on Facebook, and you can follow @DetropiaTheFilm on Twitter. INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter.

Video

Independent Lens: Detropia Trailer

DETROPIA Trailer from Loki Films on Vimeo.

Above: Produced and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady ("12th & Delaware," "Jesus Camp"), "Detropia" premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 27, 2013.

Video

Independent Lens: Detropia: Video Extra

Above: Produced and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady ("12th & Delaware," "Jesus Camp"), "Detropia" premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 27, 2013.

Video

Independent Lens: Detropia Clip

Above: Produced and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady ("12th & Delaware," "Jesus Camp"), "Detropia" premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 27, 2013.

Video

Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady: "Detropia"

Above: Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady reveal the extraordinary and complex story of Detroit they discovered in the years spent making their new film "Detropia," in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance 2012.

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