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Riotsville, U.S.A.

Welcome to Riotsville, a fictional town built by the US military. Using all archival footage, the film explores the militarization of the police and creates a counter-narrative to the nation's reaction to the uprisings of the late '60s. (NR, 91 min.)


Friday, October 14, 2022

6:00 PM

Saturday, October 15, 2022

1:00 PM 6:00 PM

Sunday, October 16, 2022

2:30 PM

Monday, October 17, 2022

5:30 PM

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

8:00 PM

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

5:00 PM

Thursday, October 20, 2022

6:00 PM

Welcome to Riotsville, USA--a point in American history when the nation’s rulers--politicians, bureaucrats, police--were faced with the mounting militancy of the late-1960s, and did everything possible to win the war 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 news 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 on the rebellions of the 1960s–and the machine that worked to destroy them. [Magnolia Pictures]

Director: Sierra Pettengill
Genre(s): Documentary, History

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"This is a very good, urgent film"

— Tim Cogshell FilmWeek (KPCC - NPR Los Angeles)

"The film shows the birth of the militarization of police in America."

— Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

"It's a documentary about futility, about people trying to understand the problem of unrest but unwilling to understand the problem."

— Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek (KPCC - NPR Los Angeles)

"Riotsville, U.S.A. brilliantly uses the aesthetic of its archival footage to not only place us in a historical era but also to inform, to critique state power."

— Ray Lobo, Film Threat

"An equally dreamlike and urgent act of radical archiving, Sierra Pettengill’s Riotsville, USA traces the origin of America’s militarized dismantling of social justice movements to a specific time and place."

— Oliver Jones, Observer

"By letting the archival material carry most of the weight, Pettengill creates an instructive kind of time-travel experience for viewers of all political persuasions, transporting them to a past hauntingly similar to our present."

— Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

"In bold contrast to the flashier, more emotionally-charged documentaries of late, Riotsville, USA takes an approach more reminiscent of the PBS of old, or even C-SPAN, in the trust it places in the footage to tell the story."

— Racha Penrice, TheWrap

"Guided by stark intertitles and a poetic narration written by scholar Tobi Haslett, the film takes a micro and macro view of the ‘60s as a flashpoint for blatant disregard of American––especially impoverished Black American––social needs."

— Shayna Warner, The Film Stage

"[A] transfixing and troubling archival documentary. This unique framework succeeds in turning history on its head, forcing us to question how these violent tactics from the past have led to the increasingly armed present we're witnessing today."

— Susannah Grude, IndieWire

"All elements of this arresting documentary work together to push an urgent thesis: What we are attuned to hearing, to seeing and to thinking about the U.S. and what the country can and cannot afford to do is by design. It’s better to realize that now before it’s too late."

— Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter