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New film about Ferguson unrest opens in Baltimore

Stacy M. Brown | 8/18/2017, 6 a.m.
A new film, which tackles the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown from two ...
The film “Whose Streets,” tackles the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black youth, opens on Friday, August 18, 2017 at the Charles Theater in Baltimore. (Above) Damon Davis and Sabaah Folayan are the directors of the Magnolia Pictures release. Courtesy Photo/Magnolia Pictures from two emerging directors opens Directors Damon Davis and Sabaah. Folayan/Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

A new film, which tackles the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown from two emerging directors opens Friday, August 18, 2017.

The Magnolia Pictures release, “Whose Streets,” counts as the works of Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis and takes viewers on an unflinching journey into the Ferguson uprising.

The incendiary documentary captures the unrest after police gunned down Brown, marking the breaking point for residents in the greater St. Louis area.

“I really wanted the perspective of my community to [be] represented and it was something I didn’t see coming from the major media outlets, so I set out to provide that perspective, and I found a partner to [help me] do so,” said Davis, one of the directors who hails from the Missouri community where Brown died.

The film, which opens at the Charles Theater in Baltimore on Friday, August 18, relives the grief of Ferguson residents and African-Americans throughout the nation. It highlights the long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger that saw residents come together to hold a vigil and protest the latest tragedy involving unarmed Blacks and law enforcement.

“As the national guard descend[ed] on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members became the torchbearers of a new resistance built on radical love,” Davis said.

Davis and Folayan lived the story while making “Whose Streets,” a power battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live.

“This film is important because it is told for the prospective of the people, by people that lived the experience,” Davis said. “I think that is a feat in the film world because rarely do people with these experiences have the resources to tell their own stories. I hope everyone makes plans to see it because it is essential to understand the full story of the Ferguson Rebellion.”

Broken into six chapters, with an episodic structure, one reviewer said the film is posed as a rebuke to anybody who might question what was done after the cameras left town, to those who wonder what the residents of impoverished communities are doing to improve their circumstances.

Black organizers around the city continued their work long after Ferguson faded from the national dialogue, and some of the film’s most wrenching moments concerns the individual toll it takes to rail against a society that seems to hold some of its most struggling citizens in such low regard.

Folayan and Davis capture many instances with a bracing intimacy, posing the protest as necessary instead of reactionary, a gesture of anguish from people who simply want to live, a reviewer noted.

“The film came about from about two and a half years of hard work. I definitely think we stayed true to our vision and achieved what we set out to do— create a portrait of black life under occupation,” Davis said. “We wrote a love letter to black people, showing the complexities of life while trying to survive and thrive in a country that never intended for you to do either.”

The film’s importance can be noted because it’s told from the perspective of those who experienced Ferguson’s unrest, and its aftermath.

“I think that is a feat in the film world because rarely do people with these experiences have the resources to tell their own stories,” Davis said. “I hope everyone makes plans to see it because it is essential to understand the full story of the Ferguson Rebellion.”

For show times, visit: thecharles.com.