AFI Movie Club: DETROIT – American Film Institute



In 2017, AFI Honorary Degree recipient Kathryn Bigelow brought the poignant film DETROIT to audiences, basing the film on true events of racial tensions and civil unrest that start to fracture the city of Detroit. 


DID YOU KNOW? DETROIT is based on true events – the Detroit riots of the long, hot summer of 1967, 50 years before Kathryn Bigelow’s explosive film would dramatize one of that summer’s notable confrontations. 

DID YOU KNOW? After the events depicted in DETROIT, The Dramatics went on to great success, releasing multiple albums in the 1970s, ‘80s and 90s. Their 1978 album “Do What You Wanna Do” went on to be a huge hit – going gold in the United States. Larry Reed left the group, however, after what took place at the Algiers Motel. 

DID YOU KNOW? According to Melvin Dismukes – portrayed in the film DETROIT by John Boyega – the movie accurately captures the fateful events at the Algiers Motel and in the city at that time. 

DID YOU KNOW? Due to financial incentives for the production of DETROIT, a sizeable amount of the filming was actually done in Boston. 

DID YOU KNOW? DETROIT held its premiere at the Fox Theatre in Detroit – the same theater seen in the film where The Dramatics had been due to perform before the riots broke out in the streets. 

DID YOU KNOW? Kathryn Bigelow, the director of DETROIT, is currently the only woman to ever win an Academy Award® in the category of Best Director. She won the Oscar® for helming the film THE HURT LOCKER. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

Click Here to Find Out How to Watch DETROIT Now

DETROIT – Reelgood


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • Has the societal landscape of our culture changed since the events that are depicted in DETROIT? How are things better or worse since then? 
  • What can we learn as a society from the events that occur in the film? Does violence solve violence? 
  • What was Melvin Dismuke’s goal when he walked into the situation at the Algiers Motel? Did he accomplish what he set out to do? Could he have done more? 
  • Why do you think director Kathryn Bigelow included actual photos and footage of the Detroit riots in the film?  
  • How would you rate DETROIT? 


AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. See all of the titles programmed for AFI Movie Club here. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience. Learn more in our FAQ section.

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