In the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri in the summer of 2014, many other embattled police department struggled to change in the face of continuous outcry for reform and transparency. In Peter Nicks’ “The Force,” that department at hand is the Oakland Police Department, a long-troubled organization that was nearly felled by its own scandals.
Nicks’ cinema vérité look inside the department follows the Oakland police as they attempt to positively change both their public face and their internal politics in the wake of a shocking scandal and a growing demands from various movements around the country. Nicks’ documentary doesn’t judge, instead offering up a deep dive look inside the department and its ongoing problems and attempts to change them, putting the onus on the viewer to decide where they fall.
Filmed over the course of two years, Nicks’ documentary first introduces an idealistic new chief — touted as a reformer — but as the country endures incident after incident of police brutality and questionable tactics by the very people trusted to enforce their laws, even the “new” Oakland itself can’t escape scandal. And when a wholly new scandal is revealed, “The Force” takes on an added, urgent twist.
The film won Nicks the Best Director prize in this year’s U.S. Documentary competition at Sundance, and is an official selection at both BAMcinemaFest and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Check out our exclusive trailer for “The Force” below.
“The Force” opens nationally this September.