That’s the question “After the Factory” explores in a feature film that shows the regeneration process of two cities with remarkable similarities – Detroit, which is picking up itself after the downsizing and outsourcing have shrunk the automobile industry’s prominence in the labor force, and Lodz, whose textile manufacturing base disintegrated after the fall of communism.
“I got the idea when a guy in the City of Lodz watched a film about Detroit and wrote me a letter through Facebook,” says Philip Lauri, producer and director of “After the Factory.” “The similarities were unbelievable.”
The film profiles several people on both sides of the Atlantic, including Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the mayor of Lodz, who tell the stories about the fall the struggles of the rebirths of these cities. Despite the crumbling landscapes and the wearily affected people, the film presents glimmers of hope and brightness in optimism and brilliant photography.
“It’s a narrative of the city that’s not all doom and gloom,” Lauri says.
The strength of will of the film was also shown in its financial backing, especially given its international logistics.
“We raised a good deal of money on Kickstarter.com and support from the Swartout Family Foundation,” Lauri says. “We raised the money in 30 days. The public got behind it. It speaks to the strength of the community of Detroit.”
“After the Factory” has been on a worldwide tour of screenings that started at the Detroit Institute of Arts and went through Poland, Germany and the Netherlands in February. It will be shown on Thursday, March 22, at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. Proceeds from the screening will go towards a project that’s near and dear to Lauri’s heart: a remote control race car track on Georgia Street near Harper and Gratiot in Detroit.
“It will be on a lot that I bought at a tax auction,” Lauri says. “When I brought the idea to the Georgia Street Community Collective, they were all behind it.
“The idea is to create an attraction, something that kids are curious about and want to take part in. After all, there are no remote control race car tracks in the city of Detroit, so it will also be something very unique to them and their neighborhood. Once the track is constructed, kids will have a variety of ways in which they can earn car time– they can volunteer in the GSCC media center, they could help tutor a fellow neighbor with their math homework, they could volunteer with Mark in the garden, take part in the up and coming youth garden market, or a variety of other things. But the point is this: once they have put a little work in, they are rewarded with some good old fashioned fun at the track where they can race cars and have a good time on space that was previously derelict.”
It sounds as if Lauri has a pretty neat vision of what could happen after the factory in Detroit.
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