Finding Medicine is a documentary about a young man’s journey to medicine and to the
the pinnacle of his field while being part of a forgotten and largely untold history of black
Detroit doctors and their significant contributions to medicine and American history. The
film provides a fresh perspective and an expanded narrative on blackness and Detroit
while reframing the idea of healing, healers, and what medicine is.
Set in Dubai and Detroit, the film centers on Dr. William Murrell, the world’s leading
orthopedic surgeon who came of age in post-riot Detroit, a time when the city was in the
midst of a major transition. As part of a growing black population in a very segregated
city, with parents heavily involved in the Pan-African Movement and seeing countless
examples of black success, William knew early on he would become a doctor.
While intensely personal, Dr. Murrell’s uplifting story is explored within the context of a
Detroit medical history that has largely been erased; a history that saw the largest
populations of graduating black doctors in the country in the early 70’s and black
doctors who played a crucial role in liberating slaves in America/Canada while treating patients in Michigan and across the river in Canada.
The documentary story unfolds from the perspective of Dr. Murrell along with fellow
Detroiters historian Dr. Anita Moncrease and community activist Heru House. Dr.
Moncrease provides a historical context of the erasure of black contributions to
medicine that stretches more than 3,000 years back as well as a bleak picture of the
future of many young people in present-day Detroit due to systemic racism.
“If a child says they want to be a doctor in the City of Detroit, by the time they finish
middle school, the chances of [them] going to jail is even greater than the chance they’ll
go to college,” she shares. By contrast, Dr. Murrell’s experience in the 1970s and ‘80s
Detroit was one of no boundaries: “I had nothing that I felt limited me. And this was
really my experience of growing up in Detroit. I felt like I grew up without really any
limits. I could do anything and I saw everybody else doing things.”
Finding Medicine reflects the multiplicity of historical constructs of people, things, and
places while exposing the disembodiment of the true self. The film challenges us to
reexamine perceptions of Detroit and its multifaceted history as well as ask: Who are
the healers? Who are the savers? What history has been erased and what stories have
been left untold?
Jasmine laura murrellDirector
Dr. William Delany MurrellKey Cast
Completion Date:July 19, 2019
Production Budget:15,000 USD
Country of Origin:United States
Country of Filming:United Arab Emirates
Shooting Format:Digtal 35mm
Bric fellowship screeningBrooklyn
June 6, 2019
Jasmine Murrell, a Detroit-born, Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, captivates audiences through her diverse talents in filmmaking, installations, photography, performance, and sculptures. Blending history and mythology, she weaves mesmerizing narratives that transcend conventional boundaries.
As an abstract artist, Murrell fearlessly experiments with various mediums, crafting both familiar and otherworldly realms. She delves into the profound meaning behind raw materials, infusing her works with their empowering stories.
With a remarkable ability to blur the line between reality and fantasy, Murrell's art emerges as a powerful force, leaving an indelible impression on anyone who experiences it.
Jasmine Murrell has exhibited nationally and internationally, in venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art; the Bronx Museum; the Museum Contemporary Art Chicago; the Whitney Museum, the African-American Museum of Art, and the International Museum of Photography.