Sunday marked the end of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where we caught some of the most stirring stories in Black and brown cinema. Flanking appearances by Diddy, Andre Holland, Rosario Dawson and others, this year’s incredible lineup explored the depths of some of the most focal events happening around us today. From gripping documentaries to illuminating shorts, here are five powerful films that brought reality to this year’s Tribeca screens.
Director Camilla Hall tells the story of We Copwatch, an organization founded on the mission to film cop activity as non-violent protests against police brutality. Members include Kevin Moore—who filmed the arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore—and Ramsey Orta—who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal Staten Island arrest. The story picks up just around the time Eric Garner was killed, and Orta is facing legal backlash after filming the incident. Hall’s directorial debut is part documentary and part profile, illustrating how everyday citizens fight against injustice while illuminating the story of Orta—one of the today’s most pivotal figures in activism.
Copwatch is available on iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, and Microsoft Movies & TV on October 6th.
In this coming-of-age documentary, 17-year old Daja Shelton is finding herself just as Mike Brown is killed in Ferguson, Mo. She strives to be the best she can, but after being sent to an alternative program at the Innovative Concept Academy, she must also overcome obstacles presented to her both at home and by society—a strained relationship with her mother, an unexpected pregnancy, and institutional setbacks that too often keep Black youth from prevailing in America. Through vivid and nuanced storytelling, For Ahkeem expounds the Black American teen struggle with a truth not regularly seen.
25 years after the beating of Rodney King was ingrained in the memories of Black America, Oscar-winning directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin join forces to retell the blistering moment. LA 92, currently airing on National Geographic, gives another look at the riots that followed the acquittal of four LAPD officers of the use of excessive force through raw and rarely seen footage.
Skull + Bone
For many, Mardi Gras is a string of Carnival celebrations, commonly represented by a barrage of multicolored beads and intoxicated parades down Bourbon Street. For the Northside Skull and Bone Gang, it’s a call of duty. Each year the band of men—following a 200-year tradition of dressing in oversized skeleton masks to bring in the holiday—hit the city to celebrate with the community, but not before knocking on the doors of residents to forewarn them of violence and danger in the streets. New York-based director and producer Victoria Rivera brings their vivid story to life in this six-minute short.
In 1977, immigration divided Britain, sparking a swell of vicious racism. “Members of a violent neo-Nazi political party were terrorizing the streets — quite literally, all over the U.K. — whilst securing airtime on the BBC and other mainstream television and radio,” director Rubika Shah explained to Women and Hollywood. “Their motto, ‘Keep Britain White,’ was borrowed from the British fascists from the 1930s.” White Riot: London is an experimental music documentary that recounts “the forgotten story of London” when “politics and youth culture collided at the height of punk,” bringing whites and Blacks together through the printing of a punk fanzine that challenged the status quo.
This story was updated on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 4:29 p.m. EST.