Director: Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman | Producer: Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman
Focus Years: 2010 | Country: United States
In the mid-80's, Detroit mayor Coleman Young built Detroit's trash incinerator. The massive concrete tower looming against the sky in the middle of the city became known then as Coleman's Castle, and there was emotional public outcry against this large trash-burning facility. Over the years, the facility has picked up more and more heated criticism. In the summer of 2009, the incinerator's lease was up for renewal, and the public discourse surrounding the facility was brought once again to a head. At the time, I had just graduated from college and was interning at a Detroit newspaper called the Metro Times, whose views on the incinerator were blatantly critical. I noticed at this time that although much of the criticism of the facility sounded justified, we never or rarely heard from those people who had a stake in its existence. I wanted to know who defended this building, what they thought, and, perhaps most importantly as a filmmaker, what it looked like inside this strange place.
"Incinerator" was, for me, a way to explore how we shape our public debates over large and complex issues. Along the way, I discovered a great deal about the city's history, about us as consumers, about pollution and recycling in Detroit, and about how fundamentally subtle and complex the incinerator's existence is.