Peter Nicks’ THE FORCE, is a compelling cinema vérité look deep inside the long-troubled Oakland Police Department as it struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson, MO, and an explosive scandal. THE FORCE is the story of a young chief, hailed as a reformer, is brought in to complete the turnaround at the very moment the #BlackLivesMatter movement emerges to demand police accountability and racial justice both in Oakland and across the nation. Meanwhile, young cops in the Academy learn how to police in a new era of transparency and accountability. And out on the street, the camera gets up close as rookie and veteran officers alike face an increasingly hostile public where dueling narratives surround each use of force. Officers are being watched like never before as they respond to a constant flood of 911 calls, revealing the wide gulf between how cops see themselves and how they are seen by the public. Despite growing public distrust, the OPD is garnering national attention as a model of police reform. But just as the department is on the verge of a breakthrough, the man charged with turning the department around faces the greatest challenge of his career, one that could threaten not only the progress that has been made, but the very authority of the institution itself. THE FORCE was the winner of the Director’s Prize at the 2017 Sundance for U.S. Documentary, and premiered in New York at both BAMcinemaFest and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Director Peter Nicks (The Waiting Room) joins us for a conversation on the second film of a trilogy on his adopted hometown’s institutions and the seemingly intractable issues that bedevil them.
Directing Award / U.S. Documentary at Sundance Film Festival 2017
Courage in Cinema Prize at Independent Film Festival Boston
Best Bay Area Doc at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
“Hypnotic and eye-opening. Nicks has a style that is both experiential and ethereal: from its ground-level immersion in the minutiae of police work to its sweeping helicopter shots of the city at night, The Force has a texture of a Michael Mann film combined with the clarity of a Frederick Wiseman documentary.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
“A poignant, realistic sense of the difficulties and challenges of modern policing.” – Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times
“Gripping. With superb use of vérité filmmaking, director Peter Nicks follows the Oakland Police Department over two years. The film shows what’s possible when police departments try to be the force of good they’re designed to be – but this documentary is also clear-eyed about how often they fall short.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International