Riotsville, USA

Director: Sierra Pettengill
Screenwriters: Tobi Haslett


RIOTSVILLE, USA is a poetic and furious reflection on the reaction of a nation’s citizens and institutions to the rebellions of the late 1960s. This artful, riveting documentary consists entirely of archival footage that was shot by the United States military or appeared on broadcast television.
Director Sierra Pettengill shifts our historic gaze from the rebellions in Chicago, Newark, and Detroit, focusing on unearthed military training footage of Army-built model towns called “Riotsvilles,” where military and police were trained to respond to domestic civil disorder.
Dissecting the anatomy of the Johnson administration’s Kerner Commission, which resulted in an explosive increase in federal funding for police, RIOTSVILLE, USA pulls focus on the machinations of American institutional control. Amid today’s shifting reckonings on power and identity, technology companies consolidating power, and a new generation’s coming-of-age, Pettengill delivers insight from a time similar to our own, urging us to understand how the machine of institutional power manages to rumble on.

Screening Details

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