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On November 23rd 2012, Jordan Davis, a black 17 year-old, and his friends pulled into a gas station. Three and a half minutes later, ten shots had been fired.
The confrontation had begun over loud music, which Michael Dunn, a white man, deemed ‘thug’ and demanded they turn down. When Davis refused to turn down the volume, Dunn opened fire on the car of unarmed teenagers. Davis claimed that he was acting in self-defence. He argued that he thought Jordan and his friends had a gun but, when questioned, it was found that he merely assumed he had a gun. It became apparent that the primary reason for Davis concluding this was because Jordan was an African-American teenager, what he saw as a ‘thug’.
Filmed over a period of 18 months, 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, weaves intimate scenes with Davis’ family and friends with footage from Michael Dunn’s trial and police interrogation, news reports, and prison phone recordings.What transpired was a case that highlighted the ongoing racial prejudice in America. It is a case that received international attention, and reignited the need for justice and an end to a crippling racial prejudice that had never really gone away.
Director Marc Silver noted that the story is hugely personal and he never intended for it to be political, but with everything unfolding in the U.S., Dunn “became this symbol to [him] of how certain parts of America are also naïve to their own racism… the DNA of what happened in those 3 ½ minutes was the same DNA in all these other shootings, which is essentially unarmed black young men being killed by armed white men claiming fear.”
Drawing on 200 hours of footage, 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets delves into the intricate web of racial prejudice in 21st century America by examining the aftermath of a tragedy, the contradictions within the American criminal justice system, and the racial prejudices that operate to make such tragedies systemic. It investigates the wider problem of racial profiling, access to guns and controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida. The documentary made its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Award for Social Impact.
Written by Tara Janus