GOING HYPERLOCAL, FILMMAKERS EXPLORE THE PAIN OF RACISM
Cara Buckley | August 25, 2017 | New York Times
A year after racial discontent neared levels not seen since the Rodney King beating case, the country finds itself convulsed by controversies over neo-Nazis emboldened by Donald Trump’s rise to power. Now, a burst of new films, many of them documentaries, are taking a deep look beyond the headlines at the lasting impact that racial schisms and racism have on Americans’ everyday lives.
Among the nonfiction films are “Whose Streets?,” about activists in Ferguson, Mo.; “Strong Island,” about its director’s brother, an unarmed black man shot to death by a white man in 1992; “The Force,” about efforts to reform the Oakland, Calif., police department; “The Blood Is at the Doorstep,” about the police killing of Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee; and “For Ahkeem,” about a struggling black teenage mother in St. Louis and her boyfriend, who, at 17, finds himself on probation for multiple offenses. There is also a new feature, “Crown Heights,” based on the real-life wrongful conviction of Colin Warner, played by Lakeith Stanfield, and John Ridley’s documentary, “Let It Fall,” about the Los Angeles uprising, which is being rereleased in November.
The films differ greatly from one another and do not provide easy answers. Yet they all tell deeply personal, difficult stories from new perspectives that challenge both their audiences and mainstream narratives, which is where much of their power lies.