2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE FORCE

forceTHE FORCE
Peter Nicks immerses viewers in the beleaguered Oakland Police Department as it attempts to reform its scandal-ridden image.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Sprawling, immediate, and complex, Peter Nicks’s vérité documentary moves like a pulsing, timely thriller. In 2014, after over a decade of federal monitoring for misconduct and civil rights abuses, the Oakland Police Department hires Chief Sean Whent – a young, clear-eyed idealist – in hopes of bridging an historically tense divide between its officers and the community they serve.

Whent’s intentions and calls for transparency are immediately met with enthusiasm, but as his tenure begins, the realities of his department’s scandal-plagued past coincide with fresh accusations of brutality and harassment.

THE FORCE captures everything; it hovers over Oakland’s evening skies and rides inside speeding police vehicles, granting viewers breathless first-hand access to some of law enforcement’s most dangerous jobs. With fly-on-the-wall intimacy, we see a department trapped in transition, desperate to shed its corrupt image but also challenged by an increasingly organized and urgent Black Lives Matter movement erupting right outside its doorstep.

Some Background:
Director/Producer/Cinematographer:

  • Peter Nicks
    Nicks’ sophomore film, which received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program in 2014 and 2015, marks his Sundance debut. His first doc, THE WAITING ROOM, was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award. His earlier work for PBS won him an Emmy Award.

Producers:

  • Linda Davis
    Past Sundance docs:

    WONDERS ARE MANY (2007, associate producer)

    In addition to her previous Sundance credit, Davis produced THE WAITING ROOM and THE KILL TEAM, which was also Academy shortlisted.

  • Lawrence Lerew
    Past Sundance docs:

    WOUNDED KNEE (2009, editor)

    Lerew, who also serves as the film’s editor, previously co-produced and cut THE WAITING ROOM, and edited THE KILL TEAM and THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS – the latter an Academy Award nominee.

Associate Producer:

  • Sean Havey
    This is Havey’s first Sundance credit.

Executive Producers:

  • Jon Else
    Past Sundance docs:

    WONDERS ARE MANY
    SING FASTER: THE STAGEHANDS’ RING CYCLE (1999)
    YOSEMITE: THE FATE OF HEAVEN (1989)

    In addition to the films noted above, which Else directed, produced, and shot, the MacArthur Genius Fellow, Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winner served as cinematographer or creative consultant for other alumni projects.

  • ITVS’ Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen
    Combined recent past Sundance docs:

    NEWTOWN (2016)
    TRAPPED (2016)
    (T)ERROR (2015)
    IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST (2015)
    THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION (2015)
    WELCOME TO LEITH (2015)
    CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM (2015)

    The President/CEO of ITVS and Executive Producer of Independent Lens respectively have regularly provided funding and broadcast support for past Sundance films. Fifer also takes an executive producer credit on fellow 2017 US Documentary Competition title QUEST and on 2017 World Cinema Documentary Competition entry MOTHERLAND.

Editor:

  • Lawrence Lerew
    See above.

Why You Should Watch:
As he did in his previous vérité film, Nicks crafts an effective – and at times enraging – portrait of an institution. Offering an insider look, from police academy trainees to the embattled chief of police and city officials, the doc takes a critical look at systemic racism and corruption and those who would attempt to create effective change.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s