Thursday, November 12, 2020

DOC NYC Spotlight: Women in Blue

I’m excited to be covering DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, which presents its eleventh year, this time in a mostly online format, from November 11th-19th. 

Women in Blue
Directed by Deirdre Fishel
Ticket Information

Any conversation about the police right now is bound to be charged with emotion. There have been many questions recently about whether the role of the police should be rethought and if funds should be allocated instead to other services that could better protect the citizens in a given city without needlessly endangering people of color, who are disproportionately stopped and killed, often for no crime at all. The notion that this is a new discussion topic is simply not correct, and there are plenty of other factors that exist within the current structure and which continue to perpetuate a specific idea of what a police officer should be.

Janeé Harteau becomes the first female police chief in Minneapolis and faces a number of issues related to sexism and racism on the force. She utilizes existing statistics and trends to drive her policies, and a major goal is to put more women into leadership roles, in part because they receive fewer complaints of excessive force. Different women in the department react to Harteau’s reforms with skepticism, including the concept of disarming officers. When a white woman is killed by a Black officer, tensions rise, paving the way for the devastating and indefensible murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

There is a lot to unpack here, and this film offers a fascinating analysis that doesn’t come to any concrete conclusions. The use of body cams and the topic of ensuring officers’ safety without putting the public at risk are highly divisive, and there is no clear agreement on anything. Yet it is abundantly clear, just from this example, that a handful of people trying to do the right thing doesn’t always produce positive results. And the substantial hurdles that exist towards creating real change can be daunting and, in many cases, insurmountable.

This film would have been important and relevant had it been finished and released at the start of this year, and now it is sure to attract even more attention. Its brief look at the case of Mohamed Noor, the Black officer who became the first member of the police force in Minnesota to be convicted for an officer-involved shooting in decades, highlights the climate of systemic racism that makes the circumstances that led to George Floyd being killed all the more infuriating. This film is timely and doesn’t suggest easy answers to the problems plaguing Minneapolis and all of America at the moment, but emphasizes the absolute need to look at things in a new way since what’s happening now cannot continue.


No comments: