On Wednesday, the Lyric Theatre is featuring a special screening of “Detropia,” a 2012 Sundance Film Festival winner. Based on the extreme poverty plaguing the city of Detroit, it foreshadows a similar future for other grand American cities. At its core, the film features a group of thinkers in gold masks attempting to make sense of the destruction and failure of the U.S. economy and lack of government aid in Detroit. The film offers a scary and uncomfortable image of the once bustling Motor City to its viewers, as well as the eye-opening thought that such destruction can and may occur in other cities throughout the U.S.
Students may have seen the “Detropia” posters around campus, and two aspects of them likely stuck out in their minds: the people in gold masks, and the words “free screening.” But they may ask what “Detropia” is and why it’s coming to Virginia Tech. The Collegiate Times sat down with David Mallin, an assistant professor of theater and cinema, to answer some of these questions.
The Collegiate Times: Why do you think Tech students should see this film?
David Mallin: Well first of all, it’s supposed to be a wonderful film. I haven’t seen it, but it’s been well reviewed and the trailer looks wonderful. It covers important social issues that I think are relevant to many people around the country. It’s just a wonderful experience to have a filmmaker come with the film, and seeing the film itself is terrific to begin with. But then afterwards — having the opportunity to meet the filmmaker, ask questions and hear her own personal insights, and a direct connection like that — it’s a really fantastic thing. Not only for people who study cinema, but also for anyone who enjoys movies.
CT: Will students have the ability to connect with filmmaker Rachel Grady?
Mallin: There will be an hour long Q & A. She’ll be introduced before we start the screening, and then after the screening she’ll go up on the stage for hopefully an hour — assuming there’s an hour worth of questions, which I think there should be.
CT: Why do you think it’s important for Tech students to be aware of the social problems plaguing our country?
Mallin: The country is in this together. So there are not a lot of Virginia Tech students from Detroit, but my understanding is that the film uses Detroit as an example for what can happen in many places around the country if a similar set of circumstances continues inside of the country. We’ve all gone through hard economic times over the last four years, and Detroit’s seen that particularly badly. I think it’s good for people to keep in their minds the things that could happen, and start thinking of ways to avoid them happening.
CT: The film is being screened amidst an election season. Is there any reason for this?
Mallin: Well it is timely. I’m sure the film has been a bit boosted by its release in this election cycle. We have two candidates, both of whom have very strong connections now to the automobile industry. Obama to some degree has a strong connection with saving the auto industry. Mitt Romney’s father was the CEO of a big auto company some decades ago. Mitt Romney himself said that the companies should be allowed to go bankrupt, so it’s a very tangible issue in this election without any question.
CT: Why do you think Grady agreed to visit Tech?
Mallin: In general, as the film is in release — it’s just coming out. She’s on a bit of a media tour to different locations. To some degree, I guess you could consider this to be part of a release tour for the movie.
CT: Do you hope to bring other screening opportunities to Tech students?
Mallin: We hope to, yes. There are schedules, budgets and other considerations that come into play, but as opportunities present themselves we have the desire to do this sort of program again in the future.