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Real Detroiters Featured At Sundance In ‘Detropia’

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(CBS Detroit) Who best represents the struggles, hopes and dreams of Detroit?

For the makers of “Detropia,” it’s a young blogger, a union leader, a bar owner and a pair of scrap metal collectors.

They’re the main characters in the buzzed-about movie centered on Detroit that opens at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend in Park City, Utah. The Sundance Film Festival happens January 19-29.

“Every character is on a journey and asking, ‘What happened to my city?’ But they all love Detroit, and they don’t want to leave,” said filmmaker Rachel Grady in a statement. “Detroit represents the end of something, and the beginning of something new. What that will be, no one knows. We’re at the end of a 100-year cycle in this country; and the sense of what will come is exciting.”

Sundance, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, selects 200 films for exhibition from more than 9,000 submissions.

More than 50,000 people attend screenings and live music performances, panel discussions with leading filmmakers and industry figures, cutting-edge media installations, and parties.

This year, Detroit could take center stage.

The Sundance website says, “Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady capture an entire city’s sense of struggle in their lyrical portrait of Detroit.”

Ewing, who grew up in Farmington Hills, told Sundance she had “become alarmed not only by the fact that the city has the highest unemployment rate in the country, but also by the increasing number of houses for sale or those simply abandoned and the sense that the city seemed empty of people.

“Rachel and I recognized that it might not be that Detroit was this crazy exception or isolated incident,” says Ewing. “It was suffering in an acute way a lot of things that other cities were experiencing and we thought, what if Detroit isn’t the exception?”

To make the film real, the pair talked to hundreds of Detroit residents, young and old, rich and poor, employed and unemployed.

“Detroit is a city of massive extremes,” Grady said. “It has had massive success and massive failure; it has massive aspirations and hope, and then years of the doldrums. Everything that can happen to a city has happened to Detroit, and for us, it seemed to be a bellwether.”

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