Riotsville, USA (Sierra Pettengill, 2022, 90 minutes, USA, English, DCP)
Welcome to Riotsville, USA, a turning point in American history where the protest movements of the late 1960s came into conflict with increasingly militarized police departments. Focusing on unearthed military training footage of Army-built model towns called “Riotsvilles,” where military and police were trained to respond to civil disorder in the aftermath of the Kerner Commission created by President Lyndon B. Johnson, director Sierra Pettengill’s kaleidoscopic all-archival documentary reconstructs the formation of a national consciousness obsessed with maintaining law and order by any means necessary. Drawing insight from a time similar to our own, Riotsville, USA pulls focus on American institutional control and offers a compelling case that if the history of race in America rhymes, it is by design.
“An equally dreamlike and urgent act of radical archiving, Sierra Pettengill’s Riotsville, USA traces the origin of America’s militarized dismantling of social justice movements to a specific time and place.” – Observer
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