|Written by||Documentary.net staff|
|Published on||May 20, 2012|
The downfall of Detroit is a story often told. Once a boomtown and the world’s automotive capital (that became the fourth largest city of the United States), competition from foreign [...]
The downfall of Detroit is a story often told. Once a boomtown and the world’s automotive capital (that became the fourth largest city of the United States), competition from foreign car producers and the gasoline crisis in the seventies took their toll. The violent crime rate is among the highest in the US and many of the factories are in ruins today. Seems like the perfect city for Johnny “Jackass” Knoxville, a man known to disrespect danger. But surprisingly the doc Detroit Lives is not about Knoxville taking on gangsters – it shows the other side of the city.
Knoxville visits artists and entrepreneurs, talks to them and discovers that Detroit is “… a blank canvas for developing business, for anything you can think of”, as one of the artists puts it. These possibilities change the city constantly. Though the film shows run-down facilities, it is not about “ruin porn” as a protagonist calls it, referring to tourists who come to Detroit enjoying the look of the empty factories. The film, directed by Thalia Mavros, is about the possibilities of starting all over and how young people – artists and entrepreneurs – take advantage of that. The cheap rents make it possible to use even big warehouses for a diversity of purposes – be it a barbecue franchise or a clubbing facility. Detroit Lives has a positive tone about it and does away with clichés. It also has plenty of comedy in it, particularly when it shows Knoxville riding through town in his convertible, being in awe that a regular Detroit street is almost as broad as a highway. Also he meets many people who tell intersting stories about Detroit, past and present. Another fascinating scene shows Knoxville, together with a couple from Detroit, exploring the inside of Eastown Theater, a one-time rock venue. One can still see how beautiful the building once was, though it now looks like it was hit by a bomb. Archive footage shows how diverse the musical scene once was there and of course the film wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t touch on the legendary Motown-Time, when Soul was king in Detroit. Maybe the city will boom again like it used to, who knows. After watching Detroit Lives you might feel the desire to go to Detroit, a city constantly changing, a place where everything seems to be possible and that soon might be called the Berlin of the USA.
documentary.net say: Dynamic documentary that shows the other side of Motown.