Kino Lorber has released the trailer for The Force, a documentary that takes a close look into the Oakland, CA Police Department in attempted flux. The documentary, by Peter Nicks (who won Best Director in the documentary category at Sundance), was shot over three years beginning in 2014, and sees the department trying to undergo reforms after the hiring of a new chief — who’s apparently attuned to criticisms of the police both within Oakland, and within the broader discussions stemming from nationwide racialized police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement that’s emerged in response.
The doc depicts the new chief, Sean Whent, comeing in intent on quashing the type of aggressive policing that leads to racial discrimination — and all too often, to killings. But as attempts to change the face — and violent force — of policing in Oakland are made, the documentary also shows another scandal emerging.
The newest chief — when filming began — was, as Variety notes, the fifth in a decade, after years of clashes between the community and the department that led the OPD to be under federal oversight for 13 years. These tensions, as the Guardian details, have often stemmed from brutal and sometimes lethal abuses of force, from the killing of unarmed black man Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station, to the violent mishandling of the Oakland Occupy movement, to a wave of abuse reports on the actions of the 1990s rogue police gang — the “Rough Riders” — to revelations of cover ups of further violence, to stories of brutality stretching all the way back to the 1968 killing of 17-year-old Black Panther member Bobby Hutton.
The film apparently takes a “fly-on-the-wall” cinema verité approach, capturing the department and the individuals within it as it implements changes in training and policing tactics. Just as the filming was finishing, however, a sex scandal — regarding the sexual exploitation of a teenage sex worker by at least 14 Oakland officers — emerged; and that, apparently, makes up its third act.
The film will be out in theaters in September.
Watch the trailer (via Indiewire):