Riotsville USA Poster

Welcome to Riotsville, USA–a point in American history when the nation’s rulers–politicians,
bureaucrats, police–were faced with the mounting militancy of the late-1960s, and did
everything possible to win the war in the streets. Using training footage of Army-built model
towns called “Riotsvilles” where military and police were trained to respond to civil disorder, in
addition to nationally broadcast news media, director Sierra Pettengill connects the stagecraft of
“law and order” to the real violence of state practice. Recovering an obscured history whose
effects have shaped the present in ways both insidious and explosive, this film is a
poetic and furious reflection on the rebellions of the 1960s—and the machine that worked to
destroy them.

Pettengill’s film premiered at Sundance, where it received rapturous reviews, including from The Hollywood Reporter: “Pettengill, whose last film, The Reagan Show, used archival footage to examine Ronald Reagan’s presidency, is skilled at building stories through the archive. That gift is on full display in Riotsville, which weaves together broadcast programs, archival images and occasional on-screen text to contextualize why and how the U.S. military set up these ‘towns’ around the country. These visuals also serve as an uncanny parallel to present-day United States; astute viewers will connect the dots between then and now, and recognize the ways in which conversations around racism in the U.S. have been overcomplicated and manipulated to further militarize city police forces.”

Riotsville USA opens Oct 7In the meantime, check out what’s now showing.

Wednesday 12, October

Thursday 13, October