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Detroit's story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century — the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now...the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.


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The Filmmakers

Heidi Ewing Director

Originally from Detroit, Ewing is the co-director of DETROPIA (2012, Sundance and Emmy winner), a searing exploration of the rise and fall of her hometown. Her newest film NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU was the opening night selection at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. She is also the co-director of Oscar nominated JESUS CAMP (Magnolia/A&E Indie), THE BOYS OF BARAKA (PBS, ThinkFilm, Emmy nominee) and 12TH & DELAWARE (HBO, Peabody winner).  Ewing is currently at work on THE ARRIVALS, about two successful Mexican immigrants searching for a path to legalization. Ewing is the co-owner of New York’s Loki Films.

Rachel Grady Director

Rachel Grady is the co-director of the Academy Award nominated documentary JESUS CAMP, which chronicles the Evangelical movement through the eyes of children. Grady also co-directed THE BOYS OF BARAKA, which won a NAACP Image Award. Grady won a Peabody Award for 12TH & DELAWARE, and recently co-directed DETROPIA, an arresting exploration of Detroit City. The film won an Emmy and an Editing Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Her newest film NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU was the opening night selection at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Grady is the co-owner of New York’s Loki Films. 


December 31, 1969

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Festivals & Awards

Sundance Film Festival 2012

Winner, US Documentary Editing Award

+ Festival Website

2012 Independent Film Festival Boston

Winner, Grand Jury Prize

2012 Silverdocs Film Festival


The most moving documentary I have seen in years.”

-David Denby, The New Yorker

The defeat of the middle class that has comprised the last decade of Detroit's history. That painful story and its meaning for the rest of America is the subject of Detropia, an important, heartbreaking, and yet still occasionally hilarious documentary.”


Of all the Sundance films tackling the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of the nation, the documentary DETROPIA stands out for how it encapsulates the causes and potential solutions.”

-LA TImes

This haunting piece of documentary cinema tells the story of one city in economic decay; but really, as the real people in the film repeatedly state, this isn't just a Detroit problem; it's an American problem. ”


Outreach Resources

Focus: Hope

For over 40 years this is an organization dedicated to intelligent and practical solutions to the problems of hunger, economic disparity, inadequate education, and racial divisiveness

+ Focus: Hope

Capuchin Soup Kitchen

Founded in 1929 by Capuchin friars Solanus Casey and Herman Buss, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen serves the people of metro Detroit.

+ Capuchin Soup Kitchen

United Way for Southeastern Michigan

The mission of United Way for Southeastern Michigan is to mobilize the caring power of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan to improve communities and individual lives in measurable and lasting ways.

+ United Way

Detroit Opera House

Without local support this awe inspiring cultural institution, which has done so much to revitalize a swath of midtown, cannot survive. Help DETROPIA's own opera impresario David Dichiera keep the fine arts in Detroit!

+ Detroit Opera House

Congress of Communities

This organization works with many different groups in the community to connect people to resources, facilitate new initiatives, build neighborhood capacity and resiliency, and generally help those in the community to become advocates for the change they hope to see.

+ Congress of Communities