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The Directors of ‘Flint’ Speak About Controversy Raised After Release of Documentary

‘Pulling back the curtain’ on the Flint police department

Linda Parton/Shutterstock

Flint, a real-life deep dive into one of the most violent cities in America, has arrived on Netflix.

There are only nine police cars patrolling the city. Officers’ numbers have been reduced from 300 to 98.

As for the few officers that remain… they’re not very popular in the community.

“How can citizens in Flint trust the police to protect them when they can’t even trust their government to provide them with clean water?” wrote Brian Willingham, a local black police officer who appears in the Netflix series.

The directors of the documentary film spent 2 years with the Flint police department. They follow their journey through the aftermath of the water crisis, even more lay-offs, and the election of Donald Trump.

FLINT, MICHIGAN January 23, 2016: Bottled Water Distribution By National Guard At Fire Station 6, In Downtown Flint, January 23, 2016, Downtown Flint, Michigan. Credit: Linda Parton/Shutterstock

In an interview with Vice, the directors addressed some of the controversy surrounding their film.

“Jess, Drea, and I come from a very cinematic place. We’re trying to make beautiful stuff… Yet proactive policing is not pretty. It’s ugly,” said Zackary Canepari, a photographer who has been shooting in Flint since 2012.

Speaking about filming on Election Day, Drea Cooper said “I think in retrospect, what we saw is the reality of America and the reality of American history… It’s a tricky episode, and I think it’s going to be problematic for a lot of people… I would just hope the people trust the candor that comes out.”

Jessica Dimmock added:

It’s a mixed department racially, and they usually seem to see eye to eye, but on this issue they saw so differently.”

On gun control, Dimmock said, “Police officers believe often in their guns and the ability of people to carry guns. This is something we’d debate with them a lot on. They would also talk about how much there’s an assumption that when they pull any car over there’s a gun inside.”

“They tend to just sort of lean into whatever the law is. They’re like, “It is legal for people in Michigan to carry weapons, and that is the law. We enforce the law,” said Zackary Canepari

Will this film affect the relationship between police and their communities? Jessica Dimmock responded:

“We didn’t go into what we thought was a corrupt police department in hopes of unearthing something we were going to expose, but we did go in with a set of questions. We found it’s a complicated relationship, and it’s different from department to department. We hope it further complicates this relationship.

As a New Yorker and someone who is coastal, I thought I had it figured out about the police, and I don’t think that anymore. I hope our audience engages on that level too. I hope people who are anti-cop feel different watching this. I hope people who are solely pro-cop also feel different after watching this. That’s our biggest hope.”

Flint has received 5 stars from The Guardian and scored A- on Indiewire.

Haven’t seen Flint yet? You can watch the trailer and find out more here.

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