Whose Streets?

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Whose Streets?
Whose Streets.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySabaah Folayan
Damon Davis (co-director)
Produced bySabaah Folayan
Damon Davis
Sabaah Jordan
Jennifer MacArthur
Flannery Miller
Chris Renteria
CinematographyLucas Alvarado Farrar
Edited byChristopher McNabb
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release date
  • 11 August 2017 (2017-08-11)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States

Whose Streets? is a 2017 American documentary film about the killing of Michael Brown and the Ferguson uprising. Directed by Sabaah Folayan and co-directed by Damon Davis, Whose Streets? premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, then was released theatrically in August, 2017, for the anniversary of Brown's death. It was a nominee for Critics' Choice and Gotham Independent Film awards.


Folayan, Davis and their cinematographer Lucas Alvarado Farrar (who had been one of Folayan's college classmates at Columbia University) began work on the project in 2014 when Folayan and Farrar traveled to Ferguson, Missouri during the protests and riots that followed police officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown.[1] Davis, a St. Louis-based artist, was already at work documenting the events. Folayan expected to do so via print journalism, but was quickly struck by a sharp contrast between the depictions appearing in the newsmedia and what she was experiencing in person. Feeling "we couldn't keep up with the news cycle and maintain justice to what we were seeing", she decided instead to pursue a film project.[2]

The project was selected for production support in a series of Sundance Institute programs: the Documentary Edit and Story Lab, its Music & Sound Design Lab: Documentary, and its Creative Producing Summit.[3] It also won support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Tribeca Film Institute.[4]


The documentary film focuses on seven main characters, particularly Hands Up United's cofounder Tory Russell, Brittany Ferrell, a nurse and young mother, and David Whitt, a recruiter for civilian organization Cop Watch.[2]

Premiere, acquisition and theatrical release[edit]

Whose Streets? premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a Day One film.[5][6][7][8][9]

In February 2017, Magnolia Pictures acquired the film for distribution, planning a summer release for the third anniversary of Michael Brown's death.[10] The film opened August 11, 2017.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received strongly positive reviews,[11][12][13] holding a score of 79 out of 100 on Metacritic (indicating "Generally favorable reviews")[14] and a 98% approval rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes.[15] Reviewing the film at IndieWire, Jude Dry wrote, "Raw and unadorned, Whose Streets? is a documentary in the truest sense of the word; an actual moving document of events fresh in the country's memory, but never before laid as bare as they are here."[16] Anthony Lane of The New Yorker questioned why more police (for instance the black policewoman featured in what he called "the movie's most potent close-up") hadn't been among the film's interviewees,[17] but most reviewers praised the film as a portrait of activism, like David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter who described Whose Streets? as "an essential testament to the commitment of activists whose credo is 'We have nothing to lose but our chains,' told in their own fervent voices."[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Gotham Independent Film Awards November 27, 2017 Best Documentary Whose Streets? Nominated [19]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards November 2, 2017 Best First Documentary Whose Streets? Nominated [20]


  1. ^ Tang, Estelle (2017-02-01). "Sabaah Folayan: You Don't Need to Wait for Permission to Become an Activist". Elle. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
  2. ^ a b Rizov, Vadim. "Damon Davis and Sabaah Folayan". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  3. ^ O'Falt, Chris (January 22, 2017). "How 20 Sundance Festival Films Got Their Start the Sundance Labs". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  4. ^ Walker, Julie (January 19, 2017). "A very Black guide to Sundance Film Festival 2017". NBC News. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Sundance Unveils Competition Titles, Including Gulf War Drama, ISIS Doc, Pair of Post-Ferguson Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  6. ^ Barnes, Brooks (2016-11-30). "Sundance Film Festival 2017: Four Films to Know". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  7. ^ Olsen, Mark. "Sundance Film Festival 2017 likely to feel more political, on purpose or not". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  8. ^ "Sundance documentaries: from Ferguson to Hulk Hogan". Otago Daily Times Online News. 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  9. ^ "whose-streets". Sundance.org. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  10. ^ Lang, Brent (2017-02-07). "Magnolia Buys Sundance Documentary 'Whose Streets?'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  11. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (2017-01-20). "Whose Streets? review: searing film gives a voice to the people of Ferguson". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  12. ^ Mejia, Paul (January 26, 2017). "This New Ferguson Documentary Will Remind You What Really Matters". The Fader. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  13. ^ Fink, John (2017-01-21). "Sundance Review: 'Whose Streets?' is a Vital, Historic Look at Ferguson and BLM". The Film Stage. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  14. ^ "Whose Streets? 2017". Metacritic. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  15. ^ "Whose Streets? (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  16. ^ Jude Dry (2017-01-20). "'Whose Streets?' Review: Vital Ferguson Doc Depicts Black Lives Matter". IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  17. ^ Anthony Lane (2017-08-07). ""Detroit" and "Whose Streets?"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  18. ^ "'Whose Streets?' Review | Sundance 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. 2017-01-20. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  19. ^ Chuba, Kristen (19 October 2017). "'Get Out' Leads 2017 Gotham Awards Nominations". IndieWire. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  20. ^ Erbland, Kate (11 October 2017). "Critics' Choice Documentary Awards: 'Kedi' Leads Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 November 2017.

External links[edit]