The award-winning documentary “Do Not Resist” is likely to have the opposite effect on some viewers.
Whatever the effect, The New Yorker calls it “an eye-opening experience,” and Award Circuit named it “one of the most relevant and valuable documentaries of the year.”
The Grand County Library and the Utah Film Center are presenting the film for free at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St., on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m.
The film takes an inside look at the current state of policing in America.
It opens on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, during the height of protests in response to the death of Michael Brown. Director Craig Atkinson carries his viewers behind the scenes and through the action – capturing tensions and responses during the protests and riots.
The film goes further behind police lines, through training seminars and camps, to a city council meeting on the proliferation of military equipment in small-town police departments, to the international Police Chief convention, and even along on multiple SWAT deployments. Finally, the film captures insight into new and controversial technologies that are being implemented in police departments across the nation.
Grand County Public Library Assistant Jessie Magleby said the Utah Film Center recommended a screening of the film.
“We agreed to screen it here, feeling that our Moab audience would appreciate a candid look into this subject,” she said. “By all accounts, this film is an unemotional and clear-eyed observation. It is the library’s hope that this film will engage and stimulate conversation in our community on this increasingly pertinent topic.”
“Do Not Resist” won Best Documentary at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. It was the Official Selection at the 2016 American Film Institute’s AFI Docs Film Festival, and the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
The documentary is the directorial debut of multifaceted documentary filmmaker Craig Atkinson, although he has been a notable producer, editor and cinematographer since 2009. Atkinson gained recognition as the assistant editor of “12th and Delaware,” an HBO film about the abortion debate in America. The film was selected at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Atkinson was first inspired to make “Do Not Resist” in April 2013, as he watched the police response in the days following the Boston Marathon bombing.
“(I was) in awe,” Atkinson said. “I had never associated the vehicles, weapons and tactics used by officers after the attack with domestic police work. I grew up with the War on Drugs era of policing: My father was an officer for 29 years in a city bordering Detroit and became a member of SWAT when his city formed a team in 1989. What I wasn’t familiar with, since my father’s retirement from the force in 2002, was the effect the War on Terror had on police work. Making this film was an attempt to understand what had changed.”
Atkinson said his efforts to communicate the “on-the-ground reality of American policing” were met by increasingly less accessible police departments.
“Our access seemed to be directly tied to the amount of negative press the police were getting at that time,” he said. “It became increasingly difficult to get access after the events in Ferguson, and there were many times we thought we would have to stop production altogether … The urgency of the situation, however, motivated us to continue.”
Documentary about policing comes to Star Hall on Feb. 23
What: The Utah Film Center and the Grand County Public Library present “Do Not Resist”
When: Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
By all accounts, this film is an unemotional and clear-eyed observation. It is the library’s hope that this film will engage and stimulate conversation in our community on this increasingly pertinent topic.