We Are All Detroit
What Stays and What Disappears


Germany 2021
118 Min (Original with english subtitles)

Directors:  Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken

Distribution: realfiction
International Distributor: New Docs

A look at two cities located far apart – Bochum and Detroit – where the departure of the automobile industry has left behind enormous challenges. The industry disappears, and what remains are the people. Ultimately, it is a journey into the hearts of each city’s inhabitants, who are in search of a new identity following the end of the industrial age. Despite all their differences, what unites them is the desire for a dignified and happy life. 




2021 — 55. Internationale Hofer Filmtage plus7streamdays

2021 — 45. Duisburger Filmwoche

2021 — Kinofest Lünen

2022 — Stranger Than Fiction / Documention Filmfestival / Opening Film /

2022 — Cinema Release Germany:
12 May 2022


„WE ARE ALL DETROIT is an excellently told story of capitalism and market economy, of decay and (re)construction, and above all of sympathetic protagonists always looking optimistically into an unknown future, which the jury unanimously awarded the rating „especially valuable“.“
Jury statement FBW predicate „especially valuable“

„It’s not surprising that the iconic neon sign is taken down under cover of darkness in order to avoid an outcry. Only that in the morning the word „Opel“ is still there, clearly readable, outlined in decades of dust. The image of it that this film preserves has the beauty of an Ed Ruscha painting.“
Daniel Kothenschulte / Frankfurter Rundschau

„Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken prove once again that the important themes of urban development and the world of work aren’t too unwieldy or too abstract for the genre of documentary film.“
Bianka Pieringer / Kinozeit

„He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him“ applies not only to Eminem here, but also to Franke and Loeken, who with „We are all Detroit“ add another important building block to their chronology of a decaying world.
Patrick Holzapfel / Perlentaucher.de / 05/12/2022

„The Witten-based director duo Ulrike Franke / Michael Loeken, who already made the impressive film „Divine Location“ (which explored the social change generated by the Phoenix Lake development on a former steelworks site in Dortmund), this time carried out their research on both sides of the Atlantic and with a sensitive approach have captured powerful images. Remarkable, in particular, is the artistic power that they are able to extract from the images of decaying factory halls and bleak wastelands. At times it seems as if the buildings themselves had a soul.“
Bernd Berke / Revierpassagen

„The clever edits juxtapose these observations and leave the viewer to draw their own conclusions. […] A cleverly observed, compassionate documentary that thrives on the energy and openness of its protagonists.“
Andrea Burtz / WDR2

„Franke and Loeken capture the disappearing things on film, they convey the wounds and scars that remain with the people – and they reveal efforts of transition and recovery. Conclusion: A finely observed documentary that explores the transformation of two cities and the social consequences.“
Andreas Köhnemann / spielfilm.de

„We are all Detroit – What Stays and What Disappears” is less a double portrait than a precise study of two cities that symbolise many other cities around the world that are also being faced with the need to change.“
Michael Meyns / Programmkino.de

„WE ARE ALL DETROIT is a century-long narrative spanning two continents.“
Andreas Wilink // kultur.west // 10/29/2021

„A touchingly melancholic long-term observation giving people a voice who became victims of global economic interests and asking questions of identity. Absolutely worth seeing.“ 
WDR Westart / 01/29/2022

„Loeken and Ulrike Franke observe all of this very precisely, affectionately paying attention to the little things, the supposed trivialities in the margins. They depict still lifes of decay like pictures in a photo album and, with the same stillness, Mrs. Riechmann’s gestures and the boxes of screws in the hardware store of days gone by. In the Detroit of their film, the sun never shines, even when the flowers bloom in summer and the people sweat in their attempt to make something of their city, of their lives.“ 
Annika Fischer / WAZ / 04/29/2022

„The filmmaking duo Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken filmed for six years, from 2014 to 2020, to find these little stories and put them on film. With a running time of just under two hours, their documentary has become unusually long. And not a single minute of it is boring.“
André Weikard / vdi-Nachrichten / 10.05.2022

„Buildings disappear, some people remain, and they form the humus for a multitude of fates from which Franke and Loeken have once again developed a dazzling tapestry of emotional layers.“
Uwe Mies / Kölner Stadtanzeiger / 12.05.2022

„One of the qualities of this documentary, filmed over many years, is that it gives a voice to both places and people. Franke and Loeken rightly rely on the material they have generated over the years, which they have assembled into a many-voiced chorus. Workers, employees, engineers, professors, small people and larger animals.
The reality of life is a multi-layered, complex picture, and that is precisely what the film delivers. […] A rich, intelligent, multi-perspective film on questions that concern us all. Worth watching.“
Kai-Uwe Brinkmann / Ruhr Nachrichten / 10.05.2022

„It is impossible to speak too highly of the curiosity, patience and consistency with which these documentarists repeatedly highlight the immense voids created by the end of traditional industrial work. […] If „We are all Detroit“ contains a kind of global insight, it is that of how important it is to enable every individual to live a life of dignity. „We need to need each other“, says Donney Jones, the urban farmer from Detroit. That could be the motto of this film.“
Ralf Schenk / Filmdienst



WE ARE ALL DETROIT – WHAT STAYS AND WHAT DISAPPEARS follows the explosive development of two cities on two different continents and its effect on the people who live there.

These two very different cities – Bochum, in Germany’s Ruhr region, and Detroit, in the US Rust Belt – have something very important in common: both Detroit and Bochum were substantially shaped by the automobile industry. And both the beginning and the end of Bochum’s auto industry can be traced to Detroit. Following the end of the industrial age, the people on both sides of the globe are in search of a new identity. The audience is introduced both to the residents affected by these developments, whose reality is defined by them, and to the active players – planners, scientists and politicians – in the transformation, all announcing promises and visions for a future that is more than uncertain. Despite all their differences, the residents of Bochum and Detroit are connected by their desire for a dignified and happy life and this cinematic journey through the two cities becomes a journey into the hearts of their people.


We Are All Detroit
What Stays and What Disappears
Germany 2021
118 Min (Original with english subtitles)

We Are All Detroit
Vom Bleiben und Verschwinden
Deutschland 2021
118 Min (D/EN)

Directors: Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken
Director of Photography: Uwe Schäfer, Philip Hallay, Fabrizio Costantini, Michael Loeken, Michael Chauvistré, Jörg Adams
Location Sound: Florian Högerle, Ulrike Franke, Bal-Aton Bori, Michael Loeken, Max Walter
Editor: Guido Krajewski, Bert Schmidt
Music: Maciej Śledziecki
Commissioning Editor: Jutta Krug (WDR)
Supported by: Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, BKM, DFFF