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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #19: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 'DETROPIA'

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire January 9, 2012 at 9:30AM

"DETROPIA" is a documentary about the economic changes in Detroit.
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Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady.
Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady.

"DETROPIA" is a documentary about the economic changes in Detroit.

What's it about? Our film explores the city of Detroit, the country's fastest shrinking city. Is it an isolated case or the canary in the American coal mine?

Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady say: "We are describing this film as a cinematic tapestry in the sense that we float between multiple characters and situations in order to paint a picture of the city - and the country - today. We hope that we've captured the mood of a city, of the country and its people.

"We had never endeavored to make a film about an entire city. Usually we find a tiny story in an unknown place and eventually the greater meaning emerges. In this case we chose an epic city that we felt we could learn a great deal about this moment in American history. Because we chose the location before the characters, the development process was much longer and our shooting ratio was worse than normal. Going on a gut feeling to a place and then asking it to speak to you is terrifying and required us to go outside our filmic comfort zone in a big way. Thank God, Detroit finally spoke up and told us what to do.

Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's 'DETROPIA'
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's 'DETROPIA'

"We feel the film can be a real conversation-generator about this crucial moment in time for all of us. What the hell happened to Detroit to bring it to this desperate place? How did we get here? What will it take to get out of the collective mess we are in, and not just in Detroit? What will the next 100 years of this (fading? challenged?) empire look like? We hope to get a conversation going about the changing American identity and our willingness - or resistance to - adapt? Oh yes, indeed, lots to talk about. Let's get it going!

"It takes years to make a film, countless hours on location and in a dark edit room, sharing your work with so few people. And finally to take it public, to experience it with an audience, to take both criticism and praise - this is where a film takes flight. This is what we look forward to at Sundance. Plus, we love seeing other filmmakers' work and celebrating their accomplishment with them. Also, let's be honest, a distribution deal would be sweet!"

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.

Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers, Sundance Film Festival, DETROPIA







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