Whose Streets?

Whose Streets?

Director: Sabaah Folayan
Running Time: 90 minutes


For the black residents of Ferguson, MO, the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. in 2014 was neither the first nor the last in a long line of police shootings, but it was the final straw.

The directorial debut from activist Sabaah Folayan, with co-direction by visual artist Damon Davis, Whose Streets? is a vibrant firsthand portrait of the Ferguson uprising and the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement. The film weaves a compelling narrative, beginning with the community’s mournful protests in the days following Brown’s murder, to the militarized police tactics that needlessly escalated the situation, and ending with a united resurgence of the movement after the non-indictment of Brown’s killer, Officer Darren Wilson.

Folayan’s presence is hardly seen, but can be felt in the easy shorthand her subjects use on camera. They have much to say and do so urgently, without fear of being misinterpreted. For comparison, Folayan’s interviews stand in stark contrast to the ones conducted by mainstream media outlets (and their largely white interviewers) she chooses to show.

The effect is the feeling of witnessing discussions that only happen behind closed doors. The film affords non-black viewers the privilege of unmasking the black perspective, and how the ignorance of that perspective embodies privilege itself.

Raw and unadorned, Whose Streets? is a documentary in the truest sense of the word; an actual moving document of events fresh in the country’s memory, but never before laid as bare as they are here. It is a vital tribute to the activists who continue to fight every day in America’s unrelenting war on black folks, and it couldn’t have come soon enough.

~~ Jude Dry, indiewire.com