Whose Streets? (2017)
The killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and its aftermath was covered by the mainstream media, but writer and co-director Sabaah Folayan traveled to the Ferguson area and realized that the media was missing the story. The national press was concentrating on the big picture, the riots, and confrontations with the police. Folayan felt the media wasn’t telling the real story, the story of the scores of people that lived in the area who were affected by the conditions of a very impoverished area before and after the shooting.
Along with co-director Damon Davis, Folayan lays out an exciting format which uses footage from camera phones during the protests and confrontations which gives the film a personal feel and look. Folayan then combines those shots with tweets that went out during that timeline giving you an idea of what people were thinking and feeling at the time. This makes you a part of the action, whether it’s the family and friends reacting to Mike Brown’s body being left on the street where he was shot for hours or in the middle of the protests that were often broken up by police using rubber bullets and tear gas. The film shows how during the protests that life just stopped in Ferguson. Stores boarded up windows up like a hurricane was arriving or people attempting to get back to their car, and the police won’t let them because they have shut down a street. The film gives you the frustration that the citizens of the town felt as they tried to go about living their lives.
The film does an outstanding job of letting us see and get to know some of the people who live in this community and care about it. We visit their homes, seeing how they live and deal with the day to day of running their families, all the while trying to make an impact on their community. It gives you some hope that things might get better with the help of their community work, whether it’s leading a protest, documenting the actions of the police and National Guard, or trying to start dialogues with the city council. Brittany Ferrell, a mother who lovingly feeds her child breakfast while worrying about her future, David Whitt, a father who plays with his kids before going out to document the police and the lesbian couple who are planning their wedding while leading protests in the streets. This gives the film a human touch, and we can better understand the passion of the protests as they fight for their family’s future.
One of the more touching aspects of the film is how the film keeps coming back to the street where Mike Brown was shot. Besides the cell phone footage of the aftermath of the shooting, the film revisits that site when a fire is lit setting the stuffed bears and flowers that are on the side as a memorial on the road that Brown was killed. The residents make sure the fire is put out, is cleaned up and the memorial is reassembled. One of the principles of the cast, David Whitt, who lives in the area, gets into a scuffle with private security when the apartment complex decides to remove the memorial. As soon it is gone, a new one starts up.
Whose Streets? is a gritty and sometimes tough to watch documentary that shows you what it was like as part of the community of Ferguson, what they went through and continue to experience. It’s a fascinating film that gives you what it was like from the right there inside the protests and the community of Ferguson. While the film is very one sided, that’s the point of this film; the director’s felt only one side was being told by the media. It’s a movie that’s going to make you mad, sad and wonder how we got to this point in our society. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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