Tribeca Film Festival: “Ferguson Rises” Review

83 mins | USA | 2021

Director: Mobolaji Olambiwonnu
Editor: Bradinn French, Jeff Striker, Nikki West, Faisal Azam, Andrew Brown
Cinematographer: Jerry Henry
Composer (Original Music): Sion Dey
Producers: Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, Daisy Mo, Tanayi Seabrook, TJ Odebunmi, Lisa Smithline, David Oyelowo, Jessica Oyelowo, Nick Moon, Tamika Lamison
Writers: Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, Bradinn French, Jeff Striker, Kai Bowe, Daisy Mo

“They will fuck you up in Ferguson.”

Osagyefo Sekou

Director Mobolaji Olambiwonnu thinks Michael Brown, Jr. came up with the idea of Ferguson Rises. When embarking on the film, Olambiwonnu also kept wondering what would his then unborn son would ask him about Mike Brown’s murder when he was old enough. Olambiwonnu features some of the key people in the Black Lives Matter movement: relatives of Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Alton Sterling, and Oscar Grant (Fruitvale Station). Because of the “all lives matter” crowd, Pot Bangerz founder and activist Cathy “Mama Cat” Daniels even had to explain what Black Lives Matter meant, saying “until you see me in the same light that you see yourself, I have to keep being specific.”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles didn’t acknowledge that racism was at play in Mike Brown’s shooting and Officer Darren Wilson was exonerated, prompting unrest in the city.

LaToya Howell, mother of Justus Howell, who was murdered by police in Zion, Illinois talks about needing to forgive, but “I’m not there yet.” St. Louis resident and organizer Osagyefo Sekou spoke about hating injustice as opposed to individual officers and provided protest training to members of the community. Rev. Renita Lamkin of St. James AME Church told people to “protest that you don’t really have anything to vote for” and that doing so builds pressure and makes those in power uncomfortable.

The ending was a bit too optimistic, showing that both LAPD and NYPD had their budgets reduced. However, as a Los Angeles resident, I’m aware that despite budget cuts last year, they’ve increased the LAPD budget again this year. The epilogue also included recent examples of progress: Black Lives Matter was nominated for a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, Ferguson now has a Black mayor, and Kamala Harris has now risen to the position of Vice President of the United States.

It’s heartening to know that the activists featured in the documentary are still fighting for justice, as there is still so much more work to be done. In the Q&A following the film, Michael Brown Sr. expressed that he wanted people to be aware and pay attention of what’s going on. If anyone wants to get involved, please check out The Michael Brown Foundation.

Rating: 9/10

Article was written by Allison McCulloch. Follow her Twitter.

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