Craig Atkinson films focuses on militarization of US police
The top documentary prize at the Tribeca Film Festival has gone to a first-time director.
Craig Atkinson won the Best Documentary Feature award for his film Do Not Resist, which he shot over two years in 11 states.
“Do Not Resist shines a light on the frightening story of the militarization of the police," said the Tribeca nonfiction jury, comprised of Laura Poitras, Douglas Tirola and Roger Ross Williams. "In an impactful way the director uses his amazing access to look at power and force from the inside.”
Atkinson grew up the son of a former police officer and SWAT team member. Understanding his father's experience from an earlier era of policing gave Atkinson particular insight into the way heavy weaponry and technology have transformed police forces across the country.
Critics have expressed alarm that access to military grade equipment has prompted many police departments to use disproportionate force in serving search warrants or responding to public unrest, as in Ferguson, Missouri.
Since 9/11, the federal government has given police departments more than $40 billion in equipment with no stipulations on how it should be deployed or any reporting requirements.
"Everyone wants to know what my father thinks of the film, and in all honesty, I think it pains him," Atkinson said in adirector's statement on the film's website. "It’s hard to watch the profession you dedicated your life to evolve into something completely unrecognizable. During the 13 years my father was on SWAT from 1989-2002, his team conducted 29 search warrants total. Compare that to today, when departments of a similar size we filmed conducted more than 200 a year."
The Best Documentary Feature Award comes with a $20,000 award, sponsored by Netflix.
Two prizes were awarded to the film Contemporary Color. It was honored for Best Documentary Cinematography and Best Documentary Editing.
"In the summer of 2015, legendary musician David Byrne staged an event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center to celebrate the art of Color Guard: synchronized dance routines involving flags, rifles, and sabers," the Tribeca catalogue said in describing Contemporary Color . "Recruiting performers that include the likes of Saint Vincent, Nelly Furtado, Ad-Rock, and Ira Glass to collaborate on original pieces with 10 color guard teams from across the US and Canada, Contemporary Color is a beautifully filmed snapshot of a one-of-a-kind live event."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.