DETROIT (AP) — The actors and filmmakers from "Detroit" walked the red carpet ahead of the film's premiere in its namesake city Tuesday evening and talked about their hope that it will spur conversation about attitudes toward race.

"(The film) created an opportunity to humanize the unthinkable and out of that, hopefully, creates empathy. And out of the empathy, perhaps, meaningful conversation can begin toward healing," director Kathryn Bigelow said of the drama about the deadly 1967 Detroit riot.

"Detroit" focuses on the Algiers Motel incident, a little-remembered event that took place almost exactly a half-century ago amid the uprising of African-Americans sparked by a police raid of an after-hours club — and a reaction to what some considered a long history of oppression. The riot, among the largest in U.S. history, left 43 dead and led to the deployment of National Guardsmen to a city in flames.

"I think largely what happened in Detroit 50 years ago is forgotten, so I hope that people go see this movie and remember where we were, see where we are and from this point do something different," said actor Anthony Mackie, who also appeared in 2009's "The Hurt Locker," which earned Bigelow the Academy Award for best director. 

"Detroit" tries to lay out the historical context and individual reality of the unrest. At the Algiers Motel, three unarmed black males were killed in an encounter with police.

Will Poulter portrays one of the officers, a character he acknowledges is particularly unsavory.

"My responsibility in this film I think was to expose a racist individual, and I'm grateful to have that opportunity," Poulter said ahead of the screening at Detroit's historic Fox Theatre. "But there's no sense of enjoyment or relish in that. You just try and do it as honestly as possible."

"Detroit" is due to be released Aug. 4.