Conscientious ushers at the San Francisco International Film Festival made sure there were no empty seats at the rush-only screening of Detroit Wild City last night. This French documentary by Florent Tillon is a gorgeous photographic portrait of summertime in Detroit. Buildings & cloudy skies are combined into beautifully composed images. God-like aerial shots & crane shots sweep across a landscape that is half civilization & half nature. Back on the ground, various Detroit residents provide commentary. A soulful hipster gives us a tour of the apocalyptic ruins of abandoned buildings. An animal control specialist wrangles pitbulls & confesses to feeling more comfortable in the forest than he does with people. The leader of a charity called Blight Busters is unsettling as he cheers on sledgehammer-wielding teenagers to tear down a home. A segment focusing on urban farming includes glimpses of goats, chickens, rabbits & geese & gave me the impression that Detroit is regressing into a post-industrial Eden. The film is very quiet, & the festival audience was respectfully silent throughout.
Festival programmer Rod Armstrong introduced the film, & his own cell phone rang just as he was about to tell us to turn off ours. The woman seated next to me disarmed me when she asked if I was from Detroit. As we waited for the movie to begin, she sold me on the cultural attractions of the city. As a former Detroit resident, she seemed disappointed by the film, commenting that there is much more to Detroit than was shown.
§ Detroit ville sauvage
director: Florent Tillon
France/USA, 2010, 80 min
San Francisco International Film Festival 54
Fri, Apr 29 7:00 / Kabuki
Sun, May 1 2:45 / New People
Wed, May 4 8:40 / PFA