3.07.2017

6 (More) Must-See Documentaries


If you've been a reader of Sage for a while, you know I'm a huge fan of documentaries. Each year, Matt and I attend the True/False Film Festival here in Columbia, Missouri. This was our fourth year attending and it was another great one. In 2015 I posted four of my favorite films and got a really positive response from all of you, so I thought I would share my favorites from this year!

There was an overarching theme of social justice this year with a particular focus on racism and police brutality. Lucky for all of you, many of these will be available in theaters and on Netflix in the near future.

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1. Step. I basically ugly-cried throughout this entire screening. I'm not kidding. Step is about a Baltimore step team started by a group of young ladies in the sixth grade. The documentary follows their senior year, which is also during the time of Freddie Gray's death. It details what life is like for young black women in Baltimore and the remarkable strength these women demonstrate as they work towards their big step competition and college in the face of poverty, violence, and pain. This one will be coming to theaters this summer as it was recently picked up by Fox Searchlight! Brace yourself.

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2. Whose Streets? This one hit home as it documents the 2014 events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson is about an hour and a half from where we live and we remember these events clearly. In many ways, Ferguson was the catalyst for many of the social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter, that we have seen in recent years. The film takes you deep into the community as they band together in a fight for justice.


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3. The Force. The Force follows the Oakland Police Department through the federally mandated reform program, including their successes and failures. This film gives a really interesting and intimate look into the issues of police brutality and misconduct. The style of this documentary will captivate you just as much as the content.

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4. The Grown-Ups. This one was also a tearjerker. The film follows a group of students with Down's Syndrome as they learn various skills related to independent living skills while at the same time navigating overbearing parents and legal limitations on their rights. The film raises provocative questions about love and autonomy while also making you fall in love with each subject. This film will challenge you.


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5. I Am Not Your Negro. This film celebrates the writings of James Baldwin. It explores issues related to race and class through the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Medgar Evers. I was amazed at how Baldwin tied in various cinematic references to demonstrate how deep-seated racism is in our country. The filmmaker did an amazing job of tying Baldwin's writings to recent events such as the shootings of young black men. This is an Oscar-nominated film and definitely worth watching. You might be able to find a showing near you HERE.


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6. Strong Island. This film is very personal for the director, Yance Ford, as it explores the circumstances surrounding his brother's murder. You will immediately feel like you are a part of this family, like the loss of Yance's brother was the loss of your own family member. It will inspire anger and heartache in you as you realize how racism contributed to an unspeakable injustice: his brother's murderer walking free.

I hope that you will consider checking out a few of these films, or at least adding them to your "to-watch" list. They will challenge what you think you know about the world in the best way possible!


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