‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Team Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal Are Making a Film About the 1967 Detroit Riots


Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal seem cinematically inseparable — the two became known as a collaborative pair for their (divisively) neutral, hyperrealistic depictions of recent wars and American foreign policy strategies in Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker. Recently, Boal participated in Sarah Koenig’s Serial Season 2, and had even announced that, like the podcast, his and Bigelow’s next film would likewise be about Bowe Bergdahl — the former soldier who was held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years, and is now facing desertion charges back in the States. That project, however, has been pushed back to make way for another film they’re collaborating on — about the 1967 Detroit riots, with a potential release sometime in 2017.

In The Hollywood Reporter‘s announcement of the film, it was described as a “true crime drama” that’s “set against the backdrop of Detroit’s devastating riots that took place over five summer days in 1967.” The riots — which were among the deadliest in the U.S., with 43 (mostly black people) killed and thousands of troops from the National Guard deployed, occurred after the police raided an unlicensed bar with 82 black customers — reportedly during a celebration of the return of two Vietnam War soldiers — then proceeded to arrest everyone present.

The Bergdahl project, Boal explained to Deadline, will wait until his current court marshal trial reaches a resolution. Rather, he said of the new film they’re making on the riots:

It’s also a very timely tale that deals with systemic racism in a way I think is relevant to contemporary audiences. It felt like the right thing to do to go ahead with the Detroit project, which was finished, and tell that story now. We will circle back to Bergdahl when the military proceedings are resolved.