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Detroit, well-documented - (Part III)

Right cap but will Flint, Michigan’s Michael Moore be directing a doc in Detroit anytime soon? (source:

It has been a few days now since my last post. I hope you’ve checked out one or two of the many documentaries outlined there?

The key issue, in this third and final post, is how Detroit and the metro region react to all of this attention.

As I see it, the Michigan Film Office, documentarians, politicians, media figures, thinkers and others have a handful of key tasks – namely to:

  • provide a single point of reference that documents the documentaries;
  • encourage local libraries, schools, colleges and universities to stock the materials;
  • network existing and budding documentary makers;
  • challenge anything misleading in documentaries;
  • nudge the direction taken in future documentaries and TV specials;

The Metropolitan Observatory for Digital Culture and Representation has done some good work on several of these fronts in recent years, as have other outlets.


Promotional material from 2012’s Imaging Detroit event – a weekend of Detroit-focused film and discussion at a pop-up venue (source:

For me the most interesting question is the subject matter that future doc’s might pursue? How about:

  • the work of the new Mayor and new Police Chief;
  • a Dan Gilbert biopic;
  • the workings of City Council;
  • innovation in the delivery of City of Detroit services;
  • the universities and their civic engagement;
  • the Midtown comeback;
  • volunteer support for city parks;
  • the foundations;
  • the Grand Bargain to protect pensions and city-owned art during the city’s bankruptcy.

What would you want to see covered? What would get you into the cinema? This post will be read by some of the Detroit documentary makers – at least I am sending it to them all (!) – so your views just might get picked up.

Whatever the subjects covered, it would be great if a Detroiter could do it. But, failing that, maybe the World’s best-know documentarian, Michael Moore, who lives an hour up State and who still has much to say on documentaries, could try his hand here.

Click here to read Part I of this series, and here to read Part II.

Gareth is currently looking to establish an organization to exchange international best practice around ways to sustain community and civic assets such as parks, libraries and museums. Prior to arriving in Detroit he undertook a German Marshall Fund international Urban and Regional Policy Fellowship (in the Twin Cities, Detroit and Baltimore) looking at these same issues. Before coming to the US Gareth worked in central government as a policy advisor in the Cabinet Office (Office for Civil Society and Strategy Unit). He holds a Ph.D. in economic geography (the role of universities in regional economic development), as well as a first degree in social policy and administration and a Masters in civic design (urban planning). Follow him on Twitter @garethpotts1.