Marc Serpa Francoeur and Robinder Uppal wrote and directed No Visible Trauma. It is a scathing look at the realities of corruption within the Calgary police force. Framed primarily around the trial of Godfred Addai-Nyemekye, the film features shocking footage of police brutality. It gives voice to several allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct as it explores what goes on behind the thin blue line.
Coming at a time when public opinion of the police may be at its lowest, No Visible Trauma is not only timely but urgent. As filmmakers this duo fully leans in to the stories. They expose the hypocrisy of those who are trusted with the responsibility of keeping the peace. The same people, ironically, seem incapable of keeping the peace within their own ranks. No Visible Trauma is a powerful and terrifying look at unchecked police violence. It is sympathetic to the stories of those who have been victimized by police brutality. It also poses hard questions about what must happen to bring genuine systemic change.
Interestingly, the film indicates that there are underlying ideologies of discrimination and toxic masculinity at play. But it doesn’t necessarily portray the officers accused as specifically racist or sexist. Instead, No Visible Trauma places the larger responsibility on a broken system that protects its own. They do so regardless of their faulty principles. (At one point, Calgary Chief of Police even recognizes the fact that the problem does not merely lie with a ‘few bad apples’. That they ‘must always be examining the barrel’ to fix what’s broken.) In doing so, No Visible Trauma broadens the conversation beyond a few individuals. It grapples with the larger challenges facing an organization which has lost the trust of the very people it has sworn to protect.