Thursday, April 30, 2015

SFIFF: 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets

Wednesday evening I attended a screening of the documentary 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, which is a close-up look at the 1st trial of Michael Dunn, a Florida white man convicted of shooting & killing Jordan Davis, an unarmed black teenager, during an argument over loud music. The 3 1/2 minute altercation is limned through tightly edited trial footage, phone calls, media reports, interviews with Mr. Davis's parents & friends &, most frighteningly, by a security camera video that captured the sound of the gun shots. There is a lot of crying in the film. Tense courtroom scenes alternate with quieter moments showing the parents of Mr. Davis awaiting the outcome of the trial. Mr. Dunn's casual racism is apparent, & you could feel the festival audience's disbelief at his insistence that he is the victim. Footage of protestors & audio clips from local talk radio give us a picture of the community response. The film has slick opening credits & crisp aerial views of Florida freeways, as well as a dreamy interlude showing Mr. Davis's father at a swimming pool.

Immediately following the screening, Executive Director Noah Cowan introduced Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, & she received a standing ovation when she walked to the front of the theater. Ms. McBath is now a civil rights activist & gun safety advocate. Also present were Alison Parker, Director of Human Rights Watch's US Program, & producers Bonni Cohen, Minette Nelson & Orlando Bagwell. Mr. Cowan led them in a high-level discussion about gun violence & stand your ground laws. Ms. McBath is strongly motivated by her religion, & she told us her work is about "changing the heart of man." I noticed only one other African American in the audience, apart from Ms. Davis & Mr. Bagwell. I happened to sit next to a woman who is on the board of the festival, & she made me very sorry that I missed the festival's Black Panthers documentary.

§ 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets
Director: Marc Silver
USA, 2015, 98 mins.

§ 58th San Francisco International Film Festival
April 29, 2015   6:45 p.m.   Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 6, 2015      4:00 p.m.   Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 7, 2015      5:30 p.m.   Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

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