Greyland is the story of what was the fastest shrinking city in the United States, Youngstown, Ohio. Once the booming centre of American steel, when the bottom fell out of the industry in the 1950s, 60% of the population moved out. Today, 37% of those left, live beneath the poverty line. Like Rocco and Amber. A recovering heroin addict turned urban archeologist, Rocco hunts through hundreds of abandoned houses. Vintage clothing, records, art works, everything he finds goes to Greyland, his art gallery come thrift store, to be converted into cash. Meanwhile Amber is a single mother and the president of the Neighbourhood Association of Homeowners, leading the fight against city hall for their inaction in cleaning up her neighborhood. “We want to believe,” Amber says, “that there’s good, hopeful things coming.”
Through poetically apocalyptic imagery of a town taking its last breath, Greyland tells the story of two individuals’ resilience when everything has fallen apart around them. ‘You can try, but you’re not going to change it. All that trying just becomes part of the way it goes’, Rocco sings echoing the struggles of a generation in limbo. Youngstown has been held up as a symbol of post-industrial decline not only in the United States, but in the modern world. And if it can happen in the land of opportunity, it can happen anywhere. Greyland follows Rocco and Amber’s search for meaning and hope in the midst of economic decline and a political landscape out of synch with the needs of its community. Should Rocco and Amber continue to fight for their city or flee like thousands before them? ¨Leave if you want to leave,” says Rocco, “but don’t turn it into something it’s not.” Question is, without change, can the community of Youngstown continue to satisfy anyone? What can grow back in a land burnt to the ground?
Director: Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque
Producer: Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque, Sylvia Van Brabant
Runtime: 1 hour 17 minutes
Country of Origin: Canada
Country of Filming: United States