Upcoming documentary follows the fight against chronic diseases in Detroit

“Alive in Detroit” director Shiraz Ahmed started a Kickstarter campaign to complete the film’s production. He says its message is more important now than ever.

A still from "Alive in Detroit." Photo credit: Shiraz Ahmed

Alive in Detroit,” directed by filmmaker Shiraz Ahmed, is an upcoming feature-length documentary about the fight against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes in the city. This story is a celebration of Detroiters and the work they do to heal their communities of illnesses while also providing them with protection and rights.

The film features a patient, a pastor and a physician whose stories inspire hope but also mask deeper inequities in the health care safety net. It’s a product of the city’s creative ecosystem, benefitting from programming by the Detroit Design Festival, the Freep Film Festival and Documenting Detroit.

Ahmed, who served as WDET’s digital and audience engagement editor from 2019-20, says the messaging of the documentary is more important now than ever.

“The pandemic’s really exposed all these cracks we have in our system,” he says. “I started this film before the pandemic, and then the pandemic just crystalized the themes I was looking at. It really gave me motivation – especially at a really depressing time when there was not a lot else to do to keep moving forward – because if we don’t address these inequities, another pandemic will happen and more people will keep dying.”

To be able to finish producing the film, Ahmed started an all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign and hopes to raise $15,000 by the end of next week. He says every donation helps.

“In the film world, community support is really what shows to big film funders that this film has an audience waiting for it, and [that it] needs to come out.”

Listen: Filmmaker Shiraz Ahmed shares inspiration for “Alive in Detroit.”


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  • Amanda LeClaire

    Amanda LeClaire is Host of CultureShift and is a founding producer of both of WDET's locally-produced daily shows. She's been involved in radio and the arts in Detroit for over a decade.