The Oakland Police Department, an agency burdened by a long-standing legacy of problems, comes into sharp relief in this powerful, immersive documentary. For this second chapter of his documentary trilogy focused on the East Bay city, award-winning filmmaker Peter Nicks gained incredible access to the OPD over a two-year period from 2014 to 2016. Nicks vividly captures a particularly turbulent time, first as protests erupt on Oakland’s streets, fueled by national police abuse reports, and then as a shocking 2016 scandal involving officers and an underage sex worker engulfs the department. In addition to these headline-making developments, The Force covers the day-to-day realities of becoming and being a cop, dropping in on police academy recruits as they train and discuss how they would react in the face of a suspect behaving erratically and coming at them, possibly with a weapon, and accompanying officers on volatile, potentially dangerous calls. The Force also spotlights activists as they seek and demand action and change at both community meetings and protests. As with The Waiting Room, his potent look at the overburdened Highland Hospital emergency department, Nicks takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to his topic. Intended as a catalyst for conversation and change, Nicks’s empathetic and observational style avoids easy generalizations and upends expectations, resulting in a rich, thought-provoking real-time conversation about social justice and the mutual responsibilities of police officers and those they serve and protect.
- Peter Nicks
- 93 mins