Don’t go see Detropia hoping for ruin porn. The new film by acclaimed documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Boys of Baraka, Jesus Camp) gives you more than pretty pictures of abandoned buildings: It gives you the story of the people who live among them.
In one of the first scenes of the film, we meet Crystal Starr, a Detroit videoblogger who trolls these buildings for fun. “What was there? Who was there?” she asks while exploring an old apartment building. “I’m picturing this place clean, and people walking around, and shit happening.” She stops in front of an open window in an apartment kitchen. “Can you imagine having breakfast right here? You know what I mean, like, look at your view.” The Detroit skyline looms in the distance, over a swath of overgrown greenery. “Like ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go out and conquer the world, 'cause I can damn near see it right here.’”
“Our aesthetic approach was definitely Detroit as dreamscape,” Ewing says. “You can drive for several miles and really not see anyone -- and it’s not because there’s no one there, it’s because you have 139 square miles with only 700,000 people living there.”