Ferguson, Missouri was a constant part of headlines in 2014 for all the wrong reasons. Michael Brown Jr. was an 18 year old black man fatally shot by a white police officer. This led to the Ferguson riots which began in August and would last off an on through the end of the year. It also sparked debate about the racial divide in the country.
Where the Pavement Ends is a documentary that looks at the towns of Ferguson and the neighboring Kinloch. Ferguson was a sundown town (all white town) through the 1960s. There was even a barrier set up between Ferguson and the all black Kinloch that remained through the 1970s. The documentary also goes into the long term effects of systemic segregation.
Director Jane Gillooly grew up in Ferguson and this intimate feels permeates her entire film. Where the Pavement Ends has no narration and instead employs first hand recollections to tell its story. This gives a more human feel to what the audience is watching. Many documentaries are informational. Even the more anecdotal ones tend to lack true emotion.
The use of experiences and memories draws in audiences in way not normally seen in documentaries. Gillooly further adds to this effect by using archival footage and audio transcripts. Where the Pavement Ends adds in modern shots of both towns. Those watching are drawn into the stories being told and the world they are a part of.
All the past and present looks at the two locations lead into what the Where the Pavement Ends is truly about. The film looks at racial identity and the perceptions in both places. It is interesting to hear the differing types of people speak to white privilege, fear, and the ideas of community. What separates Gillooly’s film from those that have dealt with similar issues is how contained it is. These are not experts or historians speaking. Those being interviewed give first hand accounts. In doing so, the documentary takes a powerful look at the entire country.
Where the Pavement Ends airs on America Reframed Friday, May 8 at 9 PM.
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