The relationship between the police force and the public is tenuous at best these days, so you may be forgiven for approaching Alan Zweig’s new documentary, Coppers, with hesitation. But like with his entire body of work, the acclaimed local filmmaker soberly sits with his subjects, all former members of police units throughout Ontario, to gain honest insight into what it means to serve and protect.
“Nobody calls the police when they’re having a good day,” states one interviewee and so proceeds a disturbing slew of accounts of the everyday horrors witnessed on the job, recounted vividly by people who will clearly never forget. The effects of these experiences can be long-lasting, leading some into PTSD or serious substance abuse issues. A few, however, treat it more glibly, explaining the sense of humour needed to get through the most heinous of crime scenes.
Zweig doesn’t shy away from the tough questions, interrogating the more blustery officers about their excessively violent techniques. Meanwhile, other subjects talk about the misogyny and racism within their own ranks that had to be endured in order to gain respect. Nobody is above the law but, as we’ve increasingly seen, cops can play by their own rules.
The production itself is somewhat basic (it’s produced by TVO and will probably debut there soon) and material may not expose too much that we don’t already assume. But Zweig still manages to present a balanced portrait of law enforcement that remains as complex and troubling as ever.
- Release Date: 9/7/2019