Consisting entirely of government and TV news footage from the 1960s (with essayistic commentary and brief on-screen contextual notes), Sierra Pettengill’s transfixing nonfiction film harks back nostalgically to a period of widespread civil unrest in the United States, when Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, and dozens more inner cities went up in flames. In July 1967, President Johnson established the Kerner Commission to investigate. At much the same time, a mock town was built in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to train military and police in containing civil disorders. They called it “Riotsville.”
Pettengill’s thesis is that the wave of protests (predominantly from the Black community) threw a spotlight on social inequity that could not be ignored. Indeed, the Kerner Report was no whitewash. In some areas, it became the fastest selling paperback since Valley of the Dolls. But for the most part its recommendations—including a universal income—were ignored or not properly funded. Meanwhile, budgets for police containment and riot control began to escalate with repercussions we still see today.
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In Mashhad, Iran, a serial killer known as The Spider has murdered over a dozen women. Rahimi, a journalist obsessed with finding the killer, soon finds a skewed social morality that praises the perpetrator and condemns his victims.
Did Israeli soldiers massacre Palestinian civilians in the village of Tantura in 1948? In 1998, history student Teddy Katz found compelling evidence that would ruin his career... Filmmaker Alon Schwarz takes up the story.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
American photographer Nan Goldin is famous for her empathetic pictures of intimate, exuberant, anguished urban bohemia. Today Goldin is using her celebrity to denounce the Sackler family's art-washing tactics and their role in the opioid crisis.
The Grizzlie Truth
Kathleen S. Jayme (Finding Big Country) is out to solve a true sports crime: who robbed us of the Vancouver Grizzlies? Jayme revisits the short history of those bad luck bears, connecting the dots and reconnecting with the Grizzlies heroes and villains.
Exhuming transcripts from a 1950s study on transgender individuals, Chase Joynt and his collaborators employ re-enactments, reinvention, and personal reflections to examine the trans stories that are told and how—and by whom—they are authored.
America in the age of anxiety, as experienced by Professor of Hitler Studies Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), his fourth wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) and multiple kids... A chemical spill leads to an airborne toxic event and the mass evacuation.
Charlotte Cook, Michael Y. Chow, Sue Turley, Grace Lay, Sumalee Montano
Sara Archambault, Jamila Wignot
Sierra Pettengill’s work focuses on the warped narratives of the American past. Most recently, she directed the archival short The Rifleman, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Her 2017 feature-length documentary, The Reagan Show, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival before airing on CNN. In 2013, she produced the Academy Award-nominated film Cutie and the Boxer, which also won an Emmy Award for Best Documentary. She was a Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow, a fellow at the Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies, and is a board member of Screen Slate.
Filmography: Town Hall (2013); The Reagan Show (2017)