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Barber Shop - Ep 3: Detroit / USA

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We meet 6 populations in transition via the microcosm of the local barber shop.

In Rio de Janeiro, barber Pedro picks teenagers from the street to teach them a profession. The inhabitants of Clacton-on-Sea reflect on post-Brexit society. In South Africa, post Mandela era, the white middle class is degrading to poverty. Detroit’s young and old inhabitants, each in their own way, have learned to overcome the city’s bankruptcy. The Sahrawi refugees question the fight for their land. In India, hairdresser Soniya helps her clients to fight for women’s rights.


This city, where formerly General Motors, Ford and Chrysler employed almost every citizen, was declared bankrupt in 2013. The car industry moved away to low-wage countries and over a million citizens left the city: ‘Motown’ became ‘Ghost town’.

In this environment of decay, a few diehards stubbornly keep running their business; one of them is barber Roberto (73), who used to be the hairstylist of many Motown artists. In his barber shop the old spirit is still alive: soul music blares from his jukebox and his customers, mostly above 70 years old, swear by the glam Chuck Berry hairdo.

Barber Shop Detroit tells the story of nostalgia and pride against a background of economic recession. How the past can help endure the present. Or like a customer explains: ‘If you take care of your hair, your hair will take care of you’.