It’s been 25 years since the Rodney King verdict led to several days of civil unrest in Los Angeles. Filmmakers including John Singleton and John Ridley plan to mark the anniversary with a slew of new documentaries set to premiere on TV next month.
At A&E, Singleton is behind “LA Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” which premieres on April 18. Ridley, who’s currently behind ABC’s “American Crime,” among other projects, will also executive produce “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992,” set to air April 28 on that network. And Showtime has the provocatively titled “BURN MOTHERF*CKER, BURN!” from filmmaker Sacha Jenkins on April 21.
The anniversary of the 1992 riots comes as, 25 years later, cases of excessive force used by the police on unarmed black Americans throughout the country continue to grab headlines across this nation.
“I believe the 1992 LA Uprising has never truly been given a voice until now,” Singleton said. “We’ve attempted to chronicle the untold stories and unique perspectives of people whose lives were profoundly affected by this event.”
A Los Angeles native, John Singleton was fresh out of film school and hot on his feature film debut with the 1991 Oscar-nominated “Boyz N the Hood” when the rioting erupted. With “L.A. Burning,” Singleton hopes to bring a voice to the riots in a way that it hasn’t been offered before.
According to Singleton, the riots didn’t just erupt out of nowhere: “The city was a powder keg boiling at the seams for many years under police brutality and economic hardship of people of color.” Singleton’s doc promises unseen archival footage and exclusive interviews with those who witnessed the events first-hand.
At ABC, Ridley’s “Let It Fall” will examine the decade of civil unrest leading up to the events of 1992, including the peripheral perspectives of the Hispanic, Korean, and Japanese Americans in LA. Ridley is producing with ABC News’ Lincoln Square Productions (“Madoff,” “What Would You Do?”) to bring his first documentary to screen. Emmy and Peabody winner Jeanmarie Condon is also an executive producer.
Ridley is also behind Showtime’s “Guerilla,” which focus on black activism in London in the 1970s.
For Showtime, Jenkins will look at the precarious relationship and history between the LAPD and the black and minority communities living within the city, in “BURN MOTHERF*CKER, BURN!”
From the 1962 ransacking of the Los Angeles Nation of Islam mosque, to the 1965 Watts riots; the Rodney King is one part of a larger whole. Jenkins is examining the continuing conflict through the eyes of three generations as the struggle continues into the present.
Jenkins’ debut documentary, “Fresh Dressed,” chronicled the roots and evolution of hip-hop and urban fashion.