Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis’ documentary is charged by its personal touch, reflected in the opening dedication to the late Michael Brown and in the sympathetic portrait it draws of the community he represented. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
This rousing, passionate new documentary, first shown here at the Seattle International Film Festival in June, is dedicated to the late Michael Brown Jr. He was 18 and unarmed when he was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Activist uprisings followed, and filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis capture much of the despair by emphasizing attempts at turning things around. It seems almost a futile crusade, though the approach somehow rarely turns cynical.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Whose Streets?,’ a documentary directed by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis. 100 minutes. Rated R for violence and language. Opens Aug. 18 at Northwest Film Forum.
“Whose Streets?” marks the filmmaking debut of Folayan and Davis, and it’s charged by its personal touch. That’s reflected in the opening dedication to Brown and in the sympathetic portrait it draws of the community he represented.
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Rather than rely on conventional narration, the filmmakers use rap music. Footage of the killing is used to suggest that another kind of community made this teen’s death shockingly inevitable — one where police brutality is simply accepted. But what exactly happened here?
How is this different from televised footage you probably saw at the time of the killing? In a sense, this could be yet another “Rashomon” movie, open to interpretation. Yet it’s clear that something happened here that was horrible and wrong. It’s not enough to call it racism.
In a statement, the filmmakers blame “a mediascape that humanizes whiteness” while portraying people of color as two-dimensional. They found this especially apparent in the case of college-bound Brown, who was portrayed on television as a “thug” and a “criminal.”
The filmmakers also emphasize a brave couple (Brittany Ferrell, Alexis Templeton) who battle the status quo and seem to suggest a viable future.