Erik Ljung’s debut documentary is a comprehensive look at the police shooting of an unarmed black man. His name was Dontre Hamilton and he was 31 years old. Despite of early reports he had a job and home in Milwaukee. With his camera, Ljung takes careful note on when mental illness comes into the conversation of Hamilton’s death. When police officers notified Hamilton’s mother, Maria, she disclosed his mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia, to the officers.
Little did Maria know that the police would warp this information to criminalize Hamilton. In a way, this movie exists to normalize mental illness especially in POC communities. Mental illness affect us despite of our racial backgrounds. However it seems that government institutions use racial status and mental illness to discriminate. The film’s scope is large. But it also calls to how mental illness can hit the audience personally and how it intersects with other groups.
The documentary recounts the day the incident happened, and specifically that the officer shot him 14 times. It’s an excessive number, especially to the witnesses that were in the downtown Starbucks branch where it happened. The film plays the recording what the officer says over his PA system. It was clear that he exaggerated Hamilton as a threat. And the film unflinchingly shows how disgusting the police is. They were justifying that number of shots entering a person.
Ljung was there almost from the beginning and even goes as further into Hamilton’s relatively happy childhood. It also focuses on Maria and Hamilton’s brother Nate, who changes from being simple working class people into being activists. The film does the unthinkable – packing as much information as possible without making the facts seem try. In fact, it even humanizes the man that others might treat as a criminal or a body of evidence.
- Genre: documentary
- Release Date: 11/6/2017
- Directed by: Erik Ljung
- Produced by: Erik Ljung
- Studio: The September Club
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