Detroit in mid-summer 1967: The Motor City is about to collapse. The city’s black population is facing ongoing discrimination. There is a lack of affordable housing, crime levels are rising, racist policemen are flushing oil into the smoldering fire. When a raid on an illegal bar takes place on July 23, the situation escalates. Bottles, stones fly to the police, reinforcements are called, riots break out – the city is in flames for five days. Only the use of the National Guard stifles the fire.
Even the African-American security guard Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega) is drawn into the middle of the riots. When shots were reported at the Algier Motel on July 26th, police and National Guard soldiers storm the town. During the raid three black men die. Dismukes witnessed the raid as a witness himself. He offers his help in clarifying the case. But soon he realizes that the murders should not be cleared up. Instead, he himself becomes the target of the investigation.
Already with “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thrity” the Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow has proven that outstanding political films can stage. “Detroit” as well as “Zero Dark Thrity” play a historical background in order to raise current questions. That “Detroit” comes in a time in which the US police are repeatedly on the subject of racism and excessive force in the news, has already triggered a heated debate in the run-up.
At the same time, “Detroit” will also hit the cinemas for the 50th anniversary of the second largest social unrest in the US. In the wake of the riots died 43 people, 1189 were injured and more than 7000 arrested. To live up to its responsibility to the topic, Bigelow has worked with experienced screenwriter Mark Boal, as well as with The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, who has worked extensively in history and interviewed contemporary witnesses.