25 Jul


Detroit Wild City opens with footage of a politician talking about the grass in the car parks of the city. The image that is created in this speech is seen throughout the rest of Florent Tillon’s documentary on the forgotten city. What Tillon sets out to find is unclear, though what he does find he captures well.

Starting with interviewing locals who have lived in Detroit all of their lives and then watching the demolition of a full-size stadium, Tillon moves on to a factory where hundreds of books have been burnt. Interestingly, it is all the same book; ‘The Voice’ which appears to liken modern Detroit to post-war Berlin. Fitting indeed. Shots of abandoned factories that run entire blocks, the poor pushing their belongings in trolleys, wild fields forever encroaching on what was once an industrial hub follow.

For a short time Detroit Animal Rescue is followed and we learn that there are roughly 100,000 stray dogs in the city. The majority of these are pit-bulls because they are the current status symbol for youths. Many are used in dog fighting, the dead losers later being set-alight. A glimmer of hope is seen in the Renaissance Centre- built by Food Jr.- but this too is quickly dashed.

Tillon then takes this footage and presents a possible future. Cutting through this wasteland is the new generation. These groups of young teens tend to veggie-patches to help people with malnutrition. Others demolish abandoned houses and reclaim the land for art.
Whilst I did not particularly enjoy the set out of Detroit Wild City, nor its lack of information on who interviewees were, it successfully showed a city that many know of but hardly know anything about.

This documentary entwines the past and the present to create a collage of the future, as people are appearing to go back to settler ways, of neighbourhood events on Sundays and community-minded projects. One can only hope this continues.


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