New film focused on race in America to be screened for first time in Detroit

Documentary digs into issues of police brutality and civil unrest

DETROIT – A new film that looks at race in America will be screened for the first time ever right here in Detroit.

The independent documentary "Black, White and Blue" digs deep into the issues of police brutality and civil unrest. Much of the film documents violence between police and citizens around the country.

The Local 4 Defenders sat down with the executive produce and director of the movie, who said they felt conflicted about what they found in Detroit.

Disturbing images of citizens clashing with police have popped up around the country. Incidents usually start with an actual or perceived case of police brutality and end with violence in the streets.

Citizens have been hurt and killed. Police officers have been hurt and killed. Many Americans have very different opinions about what causes the incidents and how to bring them to an end.

"Black, White and Blue" is due to be released in February and will address the crisis.

"So the black represents the black community and the white, the whites, and the blue, police," executive producer Curtis Scoon said. "We took a really good look at police brutality and had people speak to, beginning with the Freddie Gray incident in Baltimore."

The documentary was written, produced and directed entirely by African-Americans.

"They say that the world is changing so much, but is it really if we still have the same issues going on?" director Asia Norris asked. "That was my inspiration for being a part of it. I shot and edited the whole thing and I wanted to capture the authenticity of all the events that are happening right now."

The people who worked on the film call it a chance to share their thoughts, hopes and beliefs about an American crisis in their own words, without any influence from a Hollywood machine controlled mostly by nonminorities.

"It's a narrative that comes from us," Norris said. "Most times you watch movies, they have a black cast, but they have a producer or director (who) is white or nonblack who is telling our story."

To get the story, the filmmakers crisscrossed America for more than a year, interviewing people from many major cities -- some where violence had erupted and others where they thought it could happen next. They spent time in the Motor City and were surprised to see such economic disparity in a city that they keep hearing is celebrating its comeback.

"When we first got here, just seeing all the abandoned homes was shocking to me," Scoon said. "I'd never seen anything like it before. It didn't even look like a city in America, and it's not a matter of whose fault it is. It's a matter of, 'How do we fix this?'"

"I live in Baltimore, and I was there during the riots, so when I came here and saw a similar situation, if not worse, it was sad to see that we even have those things happening now," Norris said.

"As a black man, seeing the conditions of black people in Detroit, it just saddened me," Scoon said.

The filmmakers said they like what they see in Downtown and Midtown Detroit, but they're saddened by how far behind Detroit neighborhoods are when it comes to education, jobs, transportation and economic equality.

"I like Detroit," Scoon said. "I like Downtown. I just wish that Downtown would spread out to the neighborhoods. The disparity is troubling."

"There are people who care about the city and do want to change," Norris said.

The filmmakers said many movies and stories have been told about the plight of minorities in America, but rarely through the eyes, ears and words of actual minorities. They see "Black, White and Blue" as a movie for all races to see, and predict that it will be a huge success, especially if it encourages other minorities to step up and speak out.

"We need to not wait on anybody to do it for us, and this documentary will give people leverage to feel like they have hope to do that," Norris said.

The movie premieres Feb. 2 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It's free, but you have to register in advance. You can register by clicking here.

About the Authors:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.