Documentary is being made on Detroit’s monumental bankruptcy

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Work is under way on “We Are Alive: A Grand Bargain for America’s City,” a feature-length documentary about Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by debt, estimated at $18–20 billion

Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the city of Detroit’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy,  the movie will follow the example of 2015’s “The Big Short” by telling a complex financial tale in a clear, gripping way.

Both inspiring and cautionary in detail, “We Are Alive: A Grand Bargain for America’s City,” could have a “canary-in-a-coal-mine” implications for the rest of the country.

Produced and directed by documentary filmmaker Sam Katz of the Philadelphia-based History Making Productions, Katz has an unusual combination of economic and creative expertise; he has worked for 25 years as a financial adviser to state and local governments.

Nathan Bomey, who covered the bankruptcy for the Free Press and  went on to write the 2016 book “Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back.”  is the film’s lead screenwriter.

Members of the “We Are Alive” production team have strong ties to Detroit. They include co-director James McGovern, associate producers Chastity Pratt Dawsey of Bridge Magazine (and formerly the Free Press) and WDET-FM’s Sandra Svoboda, and senior historical advisor Thomas Sugrue, the author of the influential book “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit.”

About 50 on-camera interviews have been done, with 50 to 75 to go,  and will feature the perspectives of players, from big names like emergency manager Kevyn Orr, bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes and Gov. Rick Snyder to numerous Detroit citizens — retirees, artists, activists and more — who were part of the effort that resulted in Detroit exiting bankruptcy in 2014.

How did Detroit go broke?  The answers may surprise you.

“We Are Alive: A Grand Bargain for America’s City” expected to be completed by late 2019.

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