Documentary

90 Minutes

Released August 11

 

Do you know what it’s like to grow up and live in Ferguson Missouri as an African American? The beautifully made documentary film, Whose Streets?, will allow you to feel that life for yourself. The film does what a documentary is supposed to do. It shows the real experiences of several people whose lives were greatly impacted by the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9, 2014.

This film will keep your attention throughout. It does not pass judgment. It immerses you in the lives of people who live in Ferguson. It shows how Michael Brown’s death unleashed long festering emotional wounds in the population, specifically those feelings related to their relationship with their own police force. The film only touches on the eventual discovery of a culture of racism in the police department toward the very people it is supposed to “serve and protect. There is only one mention of the harassment and overcharging of citizens for minor offenses such as traffic tickets, both to fatten the city’s coffers and to keep the poor population under their thumb. The movie shows how the Michael Brown incident inspired the citizens to rise up and demand attention to their pain, and how this turn of events changed their lives forever.

This is the first film by director Sabaah Folayan and Producer Damon Davis and only the second film for cinematographer Lucas Alvarado-Farrar. They have created a very perceptive and effective documentary about a difficult subject. After watching it you will begin to understand the pain of the residents of this area/ pain so deep that it reaches back some 200 years in our country. The filmmakers do not attempt to cover the entire history of racism in the US. However through their thorough exploration of the lives of the people of Ferguson, you will gain an understanding of the depth of this cultural divide.

The camera captures story as told by the residents themselves. To explain the pain and anger, one man has a very perceptive allegory. He explains that If you stick a knife into his back and then you pull it out only six inches, it actually makes the pain worse. Even the action of pulling it out completely will not in itself take away the pain. Only when you begin the healing process will the pain from the wound subside, and peace can return.

The film begins with a note that when our country was first formed, slaves had the same rights as animals. It ends with a key quote from our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” This is one of the most important films to come out in recent history. It opens windows on racism in an easily identifiable manner. It will make you think and it will give you hope that this community and others like it can ignite a resurgence of progress in the fight to make the phrase “all men are created equal” a reality in our country.

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

 

 

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