This review was originally posted on News Cult in August 2017.


Director: Sabaah Folayan

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Rating: R for The Words People Say When They Are Justifiably Angry

Release Date: August 11, 2017 (Limited)

It is not hard to be mad enough to make a whole film about the recent police abuses in this country. It is practically its own subgenre at this point. But it can be challenging to channel that anger into something unique and focused. Whose Streets? cracks open the genre in a way that seeks to renew humanity to the dehumanized. Local law enforcement is trucking out in tanks on the streets of St. Louis and Ferguson as if their residents are militant insurgents. Whose streets are these really? That ought to be a rhetorical question, as the answer should be obvious. What we have here is a new angle getting at the same old overarching question: do we really have the rights that our country has promised us?

Taking that insurgency comparison further, at one point a Missouri resident muses how militants in countries like Iraq have been branded as insurgents, despite fighting in their homeland. It is the most salient point of the film, highlighting how one of the most skewed perspectives baked into American policy extends in every direction. It all amounts to shouting at a system that is nowhere near having the same conversation as you.

For some viewers, the correctness of Whose Streets?’s perspective will be enough to excuse the occasionally scattered approach that is a feature of most documentaries. And indeed, this doc is more righteously focused than most. Its lack of polish holds me back from a full endorsement, and I also wonder if Whose Streets? can really make any tangible difference in finding justice for the likes of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers. But I can’t deny the power, and continued need, to shout out these cries with fiery emotion.

Whose Streets? is Recommended If You Like: Social justice documentaries

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Riots