Kathryn Bigelow is never one to shy away from a difficult story.
In her new drama, Detroit, the Oscar-winning director depicts one of the most horrifying events of the five-day long riots that seized the city in 1967: the Algiers Motel incident, in which three young black men were killed by white police officers — who were later exonerated.
“I thought, ‘Am I the perfect person to tell this story? No,’” Bigelow told Variety in its latest cover story. “However, I’m able to tell this story, and it’s been 50 years since it’s been told.”
Bigelow learned of screenwriter Mark Boal’s script for Detroit after a grand jury declined to prosecute Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown in 2015 — and the decision convinced her that this story needed to be told.
“With the events unfolding today, the story needed to see the light of day,” said Bigelow. “My hope is that a dialogue comes out of this film that can begin to humanize a situation that often feels very abstract.”
Frequent collaborators, Bigelow and Boal are no strangers to depicting controversial stories. They previously worked together on the Iraq drama The Hurt Locker, which won six Oscars in 2010, and 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty.
“I always feel that the purpose of art is to agitate for change, but you can’t change anything if you’re not aware of it,” she said. “My own personal concerns are at the service of the importance to tell the story.”
She added: “I’m compelled to make emotionally, socially, and politically challenging pieces. That’s what intrigues me.”
Despite her own success and the rising fame of female filmmakers like Patty Jenkins, Bigelow still sees inequity in the business.
“It’s a travesty,” she said. “I feel like it’s trending in the right direction, but it’s painfully slow, and where’s that inequity coming from? That’s a big and complicated sociological question.”
Though Bigelow is “thrilled” Jenkins achieved blockbuster success with Wonder Woman, she sheepishly admitted she hasn’t been able to see the comic book movie yet: “I’ve been so busy, but I want to.”
Detroit is in theaters now.
from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/movies/kathryn-bigelow-directing-detroit/