Directed by Sierra Pettengill
“A singular, endlessly captivating time capsule of a moment this country is repeating as we speak.”—Josh Brunsting, Criterion Cast
Welcome to Riotsville, USA, a point in American history when the nation’s rulers—politicians, bureaucrats, and police—were faced with the mounting militancy of the late 1960s and did everything possible to quash dissent 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 new 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, Riotsville, USA is a poetic and furious reflection of the rebellions of the 1960s and the machine that worked to destroy them. 2022, U.S., DCP, 91 minutes. Recommended for 13+.