“Are they really here to protect me?” – Reaion King, Traffic Stop
Best Documentary Short
My Two Cents
I have a lot to say about this one but I’m going to try to keep it brief.
If you want to boil this one down to a single topic, this short doc is about police brutality. If you want to add on another topic, this one is also about racism in our country. I literally watched this entire documentary absolutely horrified and appalled at the police officer’s dash cam footage and recorded commentary. What’s even more heart breaking, is that there are people who will watch that and feel the behavior was acceptable, and some who will even celebrate the violence. (Odds are those aren’t the people watching a documentary on it, but still).
Regardless of who you believe was at fault in this particular case, there’s simply a better, more tactful, more professional, more humane, and more respectful way to resolve the conflict. You know, other than violently dragging a person from their vehicle and then violently slamming them down on the asphalt. I mean honestly, officer, did you think that would end well? It is simply not ok to treat people like that. I tell my managers and employees all the time – people tend to react in kind; if you attack them (whether it be verbal, physical, or otherwise), they will attack back; but if you show kindness and/or respect, they will give the same back to you, etc. Maybe we should be trying that approach more often…you know, be kind to people.
There has been more of a spotlight on this subject matter over the last several years (as there should be); this documentary condenses all of that down into a single violent incident. It doesn’t really go into the apparent systemic issues in our country, but it makes a statement. And that’s what a good documentary will do. It definitely is timely and it hits all of my hot-doc buttons. My only criticism is that it risks falling into the pattern of allowing a single example to cast assumptions on whole populations, which I don’t think is entirely fair because that discounts the numerous men and women in law enforcement who do outstanding work in a dangerous job.
Bottom Line – I watched this one like 2 weeks ago and it still resonates with me; it still makes me angry! I recommend it; I think it is timely and worthy of the Oscar nomination. This is a super strong category and I’d have to put this one in my top 2 for the short docs.