Director Sabaah Folayan walks an effective line between big picture and individual stories in this you-are-there account of Mike Brown Jr.’s death in a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., and the ensuing community protests. Those protests unfold with the urgency of footage captured on phone cameras, interspersed with on-screen Twitter messages clarifying the role of social media as de facto journalism and rallying cry, while material from news coverage shows how much the media brought an infuriating “both sides” dynamic to focusing on looting just as much as military-style police reaction. Folayan paints compelling character studies of individual community activists like Brittany Ferrell, bringing articulate passion to the story beyond the marches and slogans. Most significantly, though, it feels like a holistic portrait of a city that became a national buzzword, reminding us that there are people who still had to make this place their home after the TV cameras moved on. If one overarching, heartbreaking story emerges, it’s the sense of people wondering if the “normal” in their own lives will ever be the “normal” enjoyed by Americans who don’t happen to be poor and black.
Director: Sabaah Folayan
Writer: Sabaah Folayan
Producer: Jennifer MacArthur, Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis and Flannery Miller