September 3 @ 4:30 pm – 5:45 pm EDT
Welcome to Riotsville, a fictional town built by the U.S. military. Meticulously conceived and masterfully constructed, filmmaker Sierra Pettengill’s documentary exclusively utilizes archival footage shot by the media and the government to excavate the racist governmental crackdown on Black Americans in the late ’60s. The film’s centerpiece is the astonishing, unsettling footage of police and National Guardsmen being trained in fake towns known as Riotsvilles, constructed on military bases and populated by participants “playing” rioters. Buoyed and complicated by philosophical voiceover narration written by critic Tobi Haslett, and precisely edited by Nels Bangerter, Pettengill’s film is a trancelike yet politically urgent work of historical record–resetting, using a tumultuous era not to wall off the past, but to clarify how little has changed in terms of the political scapegoating and violence the U.S. government uses against its Black citizens.