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Poster for Riotsville, U.S.A. (2022)
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Riotsville, U.S.A. (2022)

Opens on September 30

Director: Sierra Pettengill Run Time: 90 min. Rating: NR Release Year: 2022

Starring: Charlene Modeste

Country: United States
Language: English

About the film:

World Premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

“a singular, endlessly captivating time capsule of a moment this country is repeating as we speak. An essential piece of modern political art.”

—Joshua Brunsting for CriterionCast

Welcome to Riotsville, U.S.A., 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.

About the filmmaker:

Sierra Pettengill’s work focuses on the warped narratives of the American past. Most recently, she directed the archival short The Rifleman, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Her 2017 feature-length film, the all-archival documentary The Reagan Show, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival before airing on CNN. She directed the ‘Big Dan’s Tavern’ episode of the Netflix series Trial By Media about the first televised rape trial in the U.S. Her 2018 all-archival short film, Graven Image, aired on POV and is held at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2013 she produced the Academy Award-nominated film Cutie & the Boxer, which also won an Emmy Award for Best Documentary, and co-directed (with Jamila Wignot) Town Hall about the emergent Tea Party movement, for PBS. She has also worked as an archival researcher for many artists including Jim Jarmusch and Adam Pendleton. She was a Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow, a fellow at the Yaddo and MacDowell colonies, and is a board member of Screen Slate.

She premiered the feature documentary Riotsville, U.S.A. (2022) at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where she was nominated for the NEXT Innovator Award.

See our upcoming films
Ohio Arts Council
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Campus Partners
National Endowment for the Arts
G&J Pepsi
WOSU Public Media


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