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Three documentaries provide new insight into Detroit

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In contrast, Hans Petter Moland’s When Bubbles Burst – a riveting and insightful look into to roots of the global financial meltdown, is set half a world away in Vik, Norway. When city officials discover that the city is nearly bankrupt thanks to some bad U.S. bonds that go belly up, they travel the globe trying to determine how this could have happened. Their first stop? Yup, you guessed it – Detroit, which they describe as ground zero for the housing crisis. Ten minutes in, the tracking shots of boarded up and burnt out homes that look more like 1980’s Beirut than anything you’d expect to see in 21st century America, are all too familiar. And as our Norwegian friends drive by the desolate and decaying multi-story building that was once one of the country’s busiest and most beautiful train stations, Tommy’s words ring in my ear. In our highly connected and globalized economy Vik, Norway might as well be a Detroit suburb – we’re all connected here and all of our houses are burning.

And then there’s Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugarman. The central character is the mysterious American folk-rock musician Rodriguez who recorded two albums in the early 70’s and quickly became a megastar in South Africa on par with Elvis and the Beatles. As one of the main characters, Sugar, puts it: “if you went into any given home in South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s and flipped through any record collection you would find three albums “Sergeant Pepper’s” by the Beatles, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Cold Fact” by Rodriguez.”

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