NATIONAL BROADCAST– THE FORCE on PBS’ Independent Lens on January 22. Streaming on Jan 23. Check local listings.
Sprawling, immediate, and complex, Peter Nicks’s vérité documentary moves like a pulsing, timely thriller. In 2014, after over a decade of federal monitoring for misconduct and civil rights abuses, the Oakland Police Department hires Chief Sean Whent—a young, clear-eyed idealist—in hopes of bridging an historically tense divide between its officers and the community they serve.
Whent’s intentions and calls for transparency are immediately met with enthusiasm, but as his tenure begins, the realities of his department’s scandal-plagued past coincide with fresh accusations of brutality and harassment.
The Force captures everything; it hovers over Oakland’s evening skies and rides inside speeding police vehicles, granting viewers breathless firsthand access to some of law enforcement’s most dangerous jobs. With fly-on-the-wall intimacy, we see a department trapped in transition, desperate to shed its corrupt image but also challenged by an increasingly organized and urgent Black Lives Matter movement erupting right outside its doorstep.
The Force was supported by California Humanities through a California Documentary Project Grant.
Watch an interview with Director Pete Nicks on the making of The Force.