Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Memphis Social Justice Documentary Who Will Watch The Watchers? Premieres at University of Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 5:41 AM

Filmmaker Gary Moore didn’t set out to create a verité portrait of Memphis’ grassroots protest movements. “This started out as research for a narrative project I was doing that was looking at issues of homelessness and what the police were doing. I started following these events, showing up, and shooting video, and that seemed more important as things went along. I felt compelled to show and tell what I found out.”

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Who Will Watch The Watchers? had its world premiere on September 15 at the Justice On Trial Film Festival in Los Angeles, and on Thursday, September 28 it will get a Memphis bow with a free screening at the University of Memphis.

Moore did interviews and chased fast moving events with his camera as the Black Lives Matter movement exploded across the nation and the disaster of the 2016 election unfolded. “It became a people’s history of three or so years of Memphis activism,” Moore says. “Written history tends to focus on what the generals did, or what the presidents did. What’s affecting the people gets buried below the headlines. As it went along, it tracked a timeline and grew a story. It has a protagonist, Paul Garner, and an inciting incident, all the elements of a narrative. It puts into context so many of the things you’ve been seeing in the news.”

Moore spent three years “embedded” with protestors as they sought justice for unlawful arrests, first through the police’s internal affairs process and then in the courts and on the streets. “Memphis United did an excellent job with its grassroots campaign. This movie turned out to be a case study of grassroots activism, and all the pitfalls of that.”

Who Will Watch the Watchers? includes footage of the infamous 2013 South Main trolly night hip hop event that ended with police arresting those filming them as they broke up the party. “At first, I guess I would say seeing people get arrested for filming police made me mad. It got my attention in a special way. If you’re arresting people just for looking at you, obviously you’ve got something to hide.”

Moore’s concern is on the core issues of police accountability to citizens they serve. “The film examines the expanding ways we have seen police, due to dash cams and cell phones, and drills down on ways law enforcement and politicians counter free speech and their own accountability.”

Moore wants the film’s local focus to encourage people to become more active in their community. “I think if nothing else, the film instructs and educates. It shows you how things get done, and don’t get done, in Memphis.”

Who Will Watch The Watchers? screens at the University of Memphis' Arts & Communication Building, Room 250, on Thursday, September 28 at 7:00 PM.

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