An exclusive documentary delves into the lives of a thriving Maltese community that exists in none other than the suburbs of Motown America – Detroit, Michigan.
‘From Malta to Motor City’ takes us to Detroit where there exist two towns with a deep connection to Malta – embodied in two separate clubs that have become a mecca for the local Maltese people.
The Maltese American Community Club in Dearborn and the Maltese American Benevolent Society in Corktown.
The history of Detroit’s Maltese communities starts with World War II, or shortly after it, when a surge of emigrants left the island in pursuit of better opportunities, the American Dream.
Yet, years after emigrating to the US, and thousands of miles away from home, there’s no escaping the island culture.
“The interiors of people’s homes were felt uncannily familiar. You had to step outside to remind yourself you were across the Atlantic,” said director Charlie Cauchi.
The walls of the clubs are a museum of the community’s rich past, decorated with photos of club presidents and the Maltese and US politicians alike.
The food is distinctly Maltese, with kitchens manned by first-generation emigrants cooking up rabbit, ftira and pastizzi too.
And so are the drinks, with Kinnie being served to club members.
The Maltese community in Detroit thrived throughout the city’s automotive heyday and continues to grow now with second and third-generation emigrants equally as enthusiastic about Malta as their predecessors.
“They were able to keep the close-knit community they had in Malta while having space and freedom that a place like the USA can offer,” Charlie continued.
“The younger members of the community that we met had such a love and fascination for Malta. Many of them spoke Maltese and even if they didn’t, they were trying to learn the language,” he said.
From Malta to Motor City also features a heartwarming celebration that hits close to home, a festa. A group of American-Maltese people gathered in a church to celebrate mass, before parading around with a statue of Holy Mary; pretty similar to what a traditional festa would like here.
“We managed to capture the Victoria Festa celebrations, and while the statue and the procession might be on a smaller scale, what they lack in ceremony they demonstrate in heart, passion and dedication,” she continued.
The documentary then ends with a particularly important note for the Maltese community of Detroit, the inauguration of Maltese American Heritage Day.
And while the documentary ends here, Charlie’s fascination with Maltese communities abroad continues.
It just goes to show that, no matter where you are in the world, you’re never too far from home!