DETROIT 48202: CONVERSATIONS ALONG A POSTAL ROUTE explores the rise, demise and contested resurgence of America’s “motor city” through a multi-generational choir of voices who reside in mail carrier Wendell Watkins’ work route.
Archival footage and oral histories convey the impetus behind the African-American migration up north to push against the boundaries of racial and economic segregation. The testimonials of Wendell’s neighbors and friends shed light on the impacts of redlining and the fight for housing justice, the legacy of industrial and political disinvestment, the fragility of Black home-ownership as impacted by the mortgage and financial crisis, and a confluence of events and failed policies that resulted in Detroit’s bankruptcy. Legendary labor organizer, General Baker, Historian Thomas Sugrue, and Urban Planner June Manning Thomas, provide additional analysis and historical context…
Pam Sporn is a Bronx based documentary filmmaker, educator, and activist. She loves listening to people tell stories about standing up to injustice in their own unique, subtle, and not so subtle, ways. A pioneer in bringing social issue documentary making into NYC high schools in the 1980s and 1990s,..
In 2020 Detroit 48202 won the Jury Award at the Festival Internacional de Documentales Santiago Álvarez in Memoriam in Santiago de Cuba.
Subsequently, the festival directors decided to dedicate the following festival to “The Independent Documentary of the United States,” and asked me to curate a special showcase of US documentaries.
The process was delayed a couple of years by Covd, but it is happening this March 3 – 8, 2023! For the last year my colleague Catherine Murphy and I have been working to select 14 films that resonate with Santiago Álvarez’s work and represent the history and breadth of artistic and political concerns of US documentarians.
Many of the filmmalers will be with us in Santiago de Cuba, which is super exciting.
This is all extra special because it is the 20th Anniversary of the Santiago Álvarez festival and it is the first time the festival has been dedicated to US filmmakers. What an honor.
If you are in the NYC area, I’d like to invite you to a kick-off event at the People’s Forum for our delegation’s trip to Cuba – On Friday, Feb. 3 we will show a new documentary about the life and work of Santiago Álvarez, directed by his son Osaín, and a sizzle reel of the US films to be featured at the festival. This event is also a fundraiser to help pay for printing costs associated with the festival.
There’s a moment in Pam Sporn’s powerful documentary Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route when Julia Putnam, co-founder of Detroit’s The Boggs School, describes an experience that’s as familiar as it is painful for Detroiters born after the ’67 Rebellion. It’s that moment when an elder describes Detroit’s glory days but in the past tense. A forever past tense. But are Detroit’s golden days forever gone?
There are so many intriguing, interesting ways to examine the urban landscape of Detroit, and Pam Sporn and Tami Gold in “Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route” have tapped into the daily routine of mail carrier Wendell Watkins, who for a generation has more than lived up to the postal creed.
An imaginative documentary premiering in Detroit this weekend looks at the city's decline and revitalization through a veteran mailman's perspective on his New Center rounds. "Detroit 48202," directed by former Detroiter Pam Sporn, is part of the Freep Film Festival. Screenings are at the Detroit Film Theater in the Detroit Institute of Arts on Saturday night and at the Detroit Historical Museum on Sunday morning, both followed by discussions.