Filmmaker Mobolaji Olambiwonnu’s new documentary Ferguson Rises looks at the killing of an unarmed 18 year old teenager Michael Brown Jr. on August 9, 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The killing sparked local protests and garnered national attention. In November 2014 a grand jury filed no charges against the Ferguson police officer in the Michael Brown Jr. case.
Ferguson Rises is a portrait of what happened in Ferguson, a small town near St. Louis where over 60 percent of the population is Black. Ferguson has 32,000 arrest warrants in a population of 21,000 says one of the residents of the town. Ferguson became the rallying ground for racial relations as one observer put it in the film.
It look Olambiwonnu over 6 years to make Ferguson Rises and the film includes voices from members of the town both Black and White along with Ferguson mayor, police officers, activists, and parents of Michael Brown Jr. What is different about the documentary is we get to hear quite a bit from Michael Brown Jr.’s father and how he and his family are dealing with the tragedy. “It’s giving us fathers a voice… The media runs right to the woman — it’s okay, that’s what they do — [fathers are] supposed to be the strength and take it, take it, take, it. But we hurt, too,” says filmmaker Mobolaji Olambiwonnu in an interview with Variety.
The film is produced by Olambiwonnu and David Oyelowo & Jessica Oyelowo and won the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival audience award.
Ferguson Rises premiers on Independent Lens on PBS on November 8, 2021