Detroit, Je t’aime: Documentary on Detroit’s DIY Spirit In the Works


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DETROIT — Nora Mandray (director/producer) and Hélène Bienvenu (co-producer) are part of the “Generation Y” who believes that Detroit, Mich., is a laboratory for tomorrow. They’re a duo of French filmmakers, and they’ve been working for over a year on an interactive documentary project supported by the French Film Institute.

DETROITJETAIME.COM talks about the DIY spirit that’s leading the Motor City, known for the assembly line, into a new collaborative economy. The interactive documentary tells three interwoven stories about the future of shared resources and community-building in the post-industrial era: a group of female mechanics, an urban farmer, and a hacker are each changing Detroit into a sustainable city, by starting small-scale DIY projects with their own means.

“At a time of economic crisis, there’s no other place to look than Detroit. Detroiters have this urge to build the society of tomorrow – based on social, racial, food, environmental, and digital justice.” says Nora, the director. As an interactive film, DETROITJETAIME.COM aims at inspiring its viewers to take action. At any point of the story, a “DIY Toolbox” will feature guidelines for viewers to create their own DIY projects (from basic bike repairs to LED light projects, and urban farming).

“During our time in the city, we’ve volunteered in many urban farms, taken part in as many workshops, shared dinners, drinks, conversations, moments... that’s how we not only built trust with Detroiters, but also became Detroiters ourselves!” says Helene, co-producer.

DETROITJETAIME.COM is a nod to the city’s French roots (founded by Cadillac in 1701), and as such it bridges Detroit and Europe by calling for people from both sides to submit personal stories and share ideas.

In order to remain independent and involve the community in the filmmaking process, Nora and Hélène are now crowdfunding on Kickstarter until July 30th, 2012. In order to finish their film production, they’re looking to raise $25,000 in 30 days. In its first day, their project was selected as a Staff Pick by Kickstarter. So far, it’s been featured in The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, Le Monde, and Les Inrockuptibles.

The interactive documentary itself will be released by January 2013.

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