Kathryn Bigelow drops everything for race riots film

She has abandoned her Bowe Bergdahl film in order to film the story of the 1967 Detroit race riots. 

Clarisse Loughrey
Monday 01 February 2016 15:32 GMT

Kathryn Bigelow has dropped her previously planned Bowe Bergdahl project in favour of bringing to screen the 1967 Detroit race riots.

According to Deadline, she's set to direct a crime drama unfolding against the backdrop of the riots, which erupted in the city over the course of three days; with a script penned by frequent collaborator Mark Boal, who further wrote The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Subsequently, the film will mark the first time the pair have ventured away from the battlefield, though the film's timely subject falls in line with Bigelow's interest in politicised subjects.

It's a surprising move; plans for the Bowe Bergdahl film appeared fairly solidified when both Bigelow and Boal participated in the making of Serial's second season covering the subject. Bigelow's film was to retell the story of the Army sergeant who left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 only to be captured and held by the Taliban for five years. There has been intense speculation, inside and outside of the military court, as to the reasons Bergdahl may have left his post.

Boal has apparently conducted in-depth research into the systemic racism of Detroit's urban areas; which saw brief scuffles between young men escalate into the violent clash of mobs of white and black individuals only dispersed upon the intervention of 6,000 federal troops.

It's certainly a vital time for a reflection of how historical prejudices still infiltrate into modern thinking, particularly when looking to recent events and the intensifying conversation surrounding race and police-perpetrated violence; later studies conducted found that of the 433 wounded in the riots, 75% were black, with many of the deaths and injuries inflicted at the hands of the police or federal troops.

The film's 2017 release is also being pitched to coincide with the 50th-anniversary of the riots, and so perhaps Bigelow realised there could be no better time to tell such an important story. Furthermore, Boal has stated the Bergdahl project is now awaiting the completion of his court-martial trial, which has been pushed back to this summer.

"Nobody in Washington predicted that Bowe’s journey would take so many twists and turns and would continue to be unresolved," he said. "I certainly didn’t see it coming and I was working on this other story at the same time. 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."

The team had previously left Boal's script Triple Frontier, about the notorious South American border, to director JC Chandor in order to take on the Bergdahl story.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in