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Trial of the murderer of George Floyd: 8 US films on police violence at the time of #BlackLivesMatter – Actus Ciné

As the trial of the police officer who killed the African-American George Floyd begins in the United States, a look back at the films directly addressing police violence against the African-American community.

DCM Filmverleih

American Son

Adapted from a Broadway play in which it also takes the actors, American Son takes place in a police station where a mother is worried about the disappearance of her son, who has not returned at night. His exchanges with a young white police officer will bring to light hard-line prejudices that are well anchored in their daily lives. This camera also sees a third character intervene, the father of the child, also white, and we will discover that he too is not free from faults. If the TV movie does not avoid Manichaeism, some dialogues are well felt and pose interesting questions about how part of the police can handle certain cases.

Available on Netflix.


In the 1970s, as race riots rage across the United States, Ron Stallworth becomes the first black American officer of the Colorado Springs Police Department, but his arrival is greeted with skepticism, even outright hostility, by officers. the lower ranks of the police station. He adds an additional difficulty to his situation: he chooses the mission of infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan! Director Spike Lee delivers with BlackKklansman a relaxed and socially engaged feature film, denouncing an era and a part of the history of the United States, while providing the entertainment and action expected by the public who come to see a thriller/buddy movie.

Available SCO.


Collin and Miles are living in Oakland and waiting for Collin’s parole to end. When the latter witnesses a dramatic police blunder, he is struck to the depths of his being by this event, which will change him forever. For his first feature film, director Carlos Lopez Estrada chooses a very current subject, and studies the feeling of oppression of the underprivileged population living under the permanent control of the police and in fear of being the next victim of a blunder. . Blindspotting is a rarity to be discovered which should not be told too much, at the risk of attenuating its full force.

Available on VoD and DVD/Blu-ray


During the summer of 1967, the United States experienced an unprecedented wave of riots. In Detroit, while the climate has been insurrectionary for two days, gunshots are heard in the middle of the night near a National Guard base. The police surround the Motel where the detonations seem to come from. Scorning all procedure, the police submit hotel guests to tough interrogation to extract their confessions. The director Kathryn Bigelow offers a virtual camera in the hotel where the tension is palpable during an interrogation which seems to last an eternity, and where inquisitive policemen without the slightest evidence face customers who limit themselves to telling the truth. A historic injustice now put into images and accessible to the general public.

Available on netflix.

Fruitvale Station

Oscar Grant, 22, walks past police officers in the Fruitvale, San Francisco, subway station. The film recounts the twenty-four hours that preceded this meeting. First film by Ryan Coogler, future director of Black Panther, this feature film also revealed an actor: Michael B. Jordan. The tragic event on which the film is based occurred in January 2009 and makes the film particularly difficult to watch, setting the viewer up as a helpless witness in the face of a drama that he feels dawns and then becomes more concrete at every minute. A film under tension to see at all costs.

Available on VoD and DVD/Blu-ray


Los Angeles, 1991. Young Rodney King is abused by the police and a year later, the suspected officers are acquitted. Riots break out in opposition to this court decision, leading to fights between the police and the demonstrators. In this dangerous context, Millie, who takes care of her family and children awaiting adoption, tries to do everything to protect her family. Directed by the Franco-Turkish Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Kings dares to mix humor with a situation that is nevertheless dramatic from all points of view. This mix will not appeal to everyone because it sometimes falls into the burlesque, but it gives the possibility to Daniel Craig to demonstrate his comic timing of “white clown”.

Available on VoD and DVD/Blu-ray

Queen & Slim

Two young African Americans meet for the first time and are arrested for a minor traffic violation. The situation suddenly degenerates when the young man kills in self-defense the white policeman who arrested them. The pursuit begins… Without being exempt from some scriptwriting clumsiness, Queen & Slim offers a romantic road movie against a background of police pursuit and social protest. It may seem like a lot for a single film, but Queen & Slim comes out with honors in the end. Nice shot for a first film, signed by Melina Matsoukas.

Available on DVD/Blu-ray

The Hate U Give

Starr witnesses the death of his childhood best friend, Khalil, who is shot and killed by a police officer. Faced with many pressures from her community, Starr must find her voice and fight for what is right. The young Starr is more than a film heroine, here she symbolizes a youth whose insecurity is palpable, present on a daily basis and dictates the way one must live to survive. By putting a young character at the center of its story, The Hate U Give is without a doubt (despite its harshness) one of the best films to introduce these societal subjects to a large (and younger) audience.

Available on VoD and DVD/Blu-ray

Other movies to watch

Some films on the same subject have not yet been released in France (neither in theaters nor on Blu-ray/DVD). Among them, we find Monsters & Men, passed by the Deauville Festival, which studies how the murder of an African-American by a white police officer will upset the lives of several inhabitants of a district. Knowing that each of them has already been marked by racial tensions in their personal journey. We can also mention American Skin, a new film by Nate Parker, director of Birth of a Nation. Not yet released, it tells the story of a former Marine turned janitor losing his son, killed during a routine police check. The culprit of the shooting is declared innocent and the former Marine will take justice into his own hands. Projects to watch if their subject interests you.

As for documentaries, I Am Not Your Negro and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution are good complements. The first, available on netflixdeals with the social and political struggles of African-Americans with regard to the writings of James Baldwin, the second (not yet released) focuses on the Black Panther movement, created in response to police violence in the 1970s in the United States.

And in the past…

Spike Lee is one of the first African-American filmmakers to tackle these questions head-on, through the classic Do The Right Thing (1989), but also through the biopic he devoted to Malcolm X (1993), in which Denzel Washington pops the screen.

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