Beauty And Ruin

A Feature Documentary



The Film

Does art matter to a city on the verge of extinction? This film follows the fight over the artwork in the Detroit Institute of Art as Detroit faces bankruptcy. The city retirees face losing their pensions, the creditors want the art sold, at stake the pensions of all the city retirees and the museum wants to keep this important cultural treasure safe for future generations. What is the price of culture?

It is the biggest battle over an art museum in history.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of America’s great art museums, housing a staggering collection of European masterpieces, including priceless paintings from Titian, Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Bellini, Brueghel, and Fra Angelico and dozens of others.

Almost all of the most important of its 66,000 pieces were bought in a white-hot period of 30 years, at a time when Detroit was the capital city of American industrial power; and the massive automobile dynasties of Detroit reigned supreme. The DIA is the city’s crown jewel and the penultimate symbol of the brief moment when Detroit was the wealthiest city on the planet.

But that was then. In 2013, after a half-century of wrenching decline, the city of Detroit went bankrupt, and a massive fight over whether these masterpieces should be sold to pay down the city’s debt began. With the city owing 18.5 billion dollars, the DIA is the single biggest asset the city owns outright. And when it is revealed that the pensions of retired city workers are at risk in the bankruptcy, the fight over the city-owned paintings lays bare the unhealed and unresolved issues of racial division that lay at the heart of the tragedy of Detroit.

With unique access to the Detroit Institute of Arts and all the principal players in the bankruptcy, BEAUTY AND RUIN is the riveting story of the history of an astonishing art museum in the context of a failing city, and the definitive behind the scenes look at the crisis that stands to destroy it.

The Characters

The Team

Marc is a documentary writer and director who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. He has been making films since 2000. His films are reflective of his broad interests in the areas of popular culture, art; sexuality, and science and technology. From the murder of John Lennon, to Christian rock musicians in Nashville; from love-doll devotees in Tokyo to professional computer gamers in Seoul and the multibillion dollar ‘crisis management’ industry in LA, Washington and NY. He won the Gemini Award for Best Science and Technology Documentary for his films Gamer Revolution and Disappearing Male; on two consecutive years. Marc is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design; and spent many years as a working visual artist before transitioning to documentary film. His art background is a very important element of his filmmaking.

Sally cut her filmmaking teeth in the bizarre world of professional wrestling, co-producing the Gemini-award winning documentary feature, HITMAN HART, Wrestling with Shadows (TVO, BBC, ARTE, A&E). From pink tights to evangelical pop stars, to machine guns to Leonardo Da Vinci’s mules, Sally continues to look for important stories in unusual places. Her recent films include: Cat Ladies (TVO, Canal D), about loneliness and social acceptance, as experienced through four women and their cats; Peep Culture (CBC, Canal D, Gemini Award), a jarring tale of lives transformed into broadcast entertainment and The Emperor’s Lost Harbour (CBC, ARTE), an architectural detective story following the emergence of 37 shipwrecks in the decidedly land locked centre of Istanbul. Sally also produces documentary and factual mini-series for broadcasters as diverse as Discovery, Animal Planet, WE and Slice.

Jeannette Loakman is an award-winning producer with over 12 years of experience in the television industry. Her last film Chubby Chaser premiered on TV Ontario and Canal D. Her previous film Peep Culture garnered a Gemini for best picture editing and premiered on CBC News Network and Canal D. Jeannette’s previous films include the award-winning film Cat Ladies, which premiered at Hot Docs 2009, screening also at Silverdocs and San Francisco Doc Festival. Jeannette was also nominated for a Gemini for Spam: The Documentary, a critical and ratings hit, Spam is the story of one man’s comical search for the origins of bulk unsolicited email. Jeannette produced Annie Ong: Lost and Found, Hot Shots, The Last Seven Days of Annie Ong as well as directed Slippery Blisses: What’s in a Kiss? with the NFB.

The Trailer

Art & Images

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