Arts & Culture

Full Frame: ‘Whose Streets?’ Ferguson film opens festival

A scene from the documentary film "Whose Streets?"
A scene from the documentary film "Whose Streets?"

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival opened Thursday morning with a full audience at Carolina Theatre’s Fletcher Hall to see “Whose Streets?” a film about Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The new documentary chronicles the aftermath of the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, who was never indicted. The killing of Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American galvanized protesters in the St. Louis area and nationwide.

“Whose Streets?” also shows how the Black Lives Matter movement took hold through the use of Twitter, showing what was going on at the ground level rather than through the perception of cable television media. The film uses archival news and individually shot footage of the scene of Brown’s killing and ensuing protests and clashes with local law enforcement. There are also interviews with several civil rights activists, including Brittany Ferrell. It follows Ferrell’s daily life as a parent, as an activist and when she marries fellow activist Alexis Templeton. “Whose Streets?” also shows the months beyond the protests, like Ferguson Town Council meetings and when the roadside memorial to Brown is removed and rebuilt.

The filmmakers took audience questions after the screening Thursday, with the first question about the recent re-election of the Ferguson mayor, even as other leadership changed.

Co-director Damon Davis said the mayor is not the beginning nor the end.

“The government is just that, they’re not the people,” Davis said.

Director Sabaah Folayan said that there is a fight to build local power, and especially with the current presidency, “we’re running a long game.”

“This is going to be a long fight,” she said.

Davis, who still lives in St. Louis, said that Ferguson was a moment in which he saw countless number of people radicalized. In the years since, he’s seen young people running for office and actively trying to change things.

Several audience members simply thanked the filmmakers for making the documentary, especially featuring LGBT African-American women at the core of it. Folayan said that some filmmakers come in and look for a sensational story without including the mundane aspects of daily life.

“The reason we can [show daily life of African-Americans] is because we are black,” Davis said. “Just to show the magic and glory outside the pain, to show that for black people themselves.”

“Whose Streets?” is a Magnolia Pictures film and will be released in theaters nationwide on Aug. 11, Folayan said.

Full Frame continues through Sunday in downtown Durham.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan