‘Internal Combustion’

‘Internal Combustion’

Screens at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Tickets are $10, $9 for DIA members and seniors.

Director Steve Faigenbaum’s return to Detroit after a 25-year absence jolts him into a introspective and expansive exploration of the collapse of a once-great city as he compares it to touchstones in his own family’s history: The Jewish immigrant experience against the African-American experience, the riots of 1943 and 1967, fears surrounding the Vietnam War, white flight to the suburbs, the auto industry’s ebbs and flows, and the ultimate question of whether or not Detroit can rise again

Using archival footage, Faigenbaum effectively portrays Detroit as a complicated city so often at war with itself. It’s a good reminder that city’s problems – and its optimism – go back much further than the recent past of bankruptcy, Kwame and the Great Recession. Modern-day testimony around the 1969 violence between Republic of New Africa members and Detroit police is particularly compelling.

“Internal Combustion” ends with an appearance by activist Grace Lee Boggs, who provides an ideal summation: “It’s the end of something here in Detroit and therefore a challenge to create something new…We have to…have a sense of history and how so many societies have come and gone because they weren’t able to look at themselves and what was happening to them.” U.S. premiere.

AFTER THE FILM: Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson will lead a discussion with director Steve Faigenbaum and Kimberly L. Simmons, a historian and founder of the Detroit River Project.

Year: 2013
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Rating: Unrated; some mature themes
Director: Steve Faigenbaum
Writer: Steve Faigenbaum
Cinematographer: Stephen M. Katz
Editors: Yann Dedet, Nadia Ben Rachid
Producer: Delphine Morel
Production company: TS Productions
Other film festivals: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2013, Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2014