Review: ‘Whose Streets?’ a riveting, urgent documentary

Doc looks at the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Mo. and feels as timely as the evening news

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Urgent, vital and depressingly timely, “Whose Streets?” is a riveting, on-the-ground documentation of the 2014 uprising on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of Michael Brown Jr., an unarmed black teenager who was shot dead by a white police officer.

Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis are in the streets at night with the protestors and at home with them during the day during the initial riots, up through the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, and that outcome’s aftermath. They use cell phone video captured by protestors and tweets from the scene to paint a vivid picture of the unrest from the inside out.

This isn’t a drop-in or a fly-by-night kind of thing. Folayan and Davis introduce us to individuals and residents of Ferguson at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement, and go beyond the marches and protests to let us know them as people. They include David Whitt, who becomes something of his own news crew by documenting his and others’ interactions with police, and Brittany Ferrell, a nursing student who finds love and a renewed sense of purpose in the protests.

“Whose Streets?” shows the power of persistence and democracy in action. It’s not just the protests in the streets, it’s the impassioned pleas at city council meetings that lead to the eventual resignation of several of Ferguson’s top city officials. But the fight continues, and “Whose Streets?” doesn’t pretend to solve any problems, only illuminate those that are happening everyday. It’s a documentary that lives and breathes in the here and now.

(313) 222-2284


‘Whose Streets?’


Rated R for language throughout

Running time: 103 minutes