Kino Lorber has acquired most North American rights to “The Force,” an acclaimed documentary about police reform. Peter Nicks, the filmmaker behind “The Force,” won a prize for directing the documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It is expected to get an awards push.
“The Force” arrives as the issue of police brutality has inspired a nationwide debate. It follows the Oakland Police Department over the course of two years as a new chief tries to make his officers more accountable and more aware of racial inequities in the criminal justice system.
In a positive review, Variety critic Owen Gleiberman wrote, “The strength, and fascination, of ‘The Force’ is that the movie isn’t on anyone’s side. It’s cognizant of the brutality and violence that police officers, in our era, have been caught on phone cameras committing. At the same time, it’s not out to demonize the police — it’s out to capture the pressures they’re under, and to show us what their job looks like from the inside.”
Kino Lorber will oversee the film’s theatrical rollout. It does not control television and streaming rights for “The Force.”
Its theatrical run starts Sept. 15 in New York and the Bay Area. It will then open in Los Angeles on Sept. 23. A national expansion will follow throughout the fall, before a VOD and home media release in 2018.
The film will show twice this week at the BAMcinemaFest in New York. Nicks will be present at both screenings to answer questions from the audience.
“We are thrilled to partner with Kino Lorber to release ‘The Force’ to audiences at this important moment in the history of police/community relations,” Nicks said in a statement.
“The Force” is the second film in a trilogy of documentaries concerning the relationship between public institutions and the communities they serve on the East Bay city. It is a follow-up to 2012’s “The Waiting Room,” which examined under-staffed hospital emergency rooms. The third film in the series, “Homeroom,” which will center on schools, is still in development.
Nicks previously worked as a staff producer for ABC News in New York and as a producer for the PBS documentary series “Life 360.” His documentary films are rooted in his hometown. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.
Recent Kino Lorber releases include the Oscar-nominated “Fire at Sea,” a documentary about the migrant crisis in Europe; and “Obit,” a look at the New York Times’ obituary writers.
“The Force” is a co-production of Open’hood, Inc. and a co-production of Independent Television Service (ITVS). Funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The deal was negotiated between Kino Lorber senior vice president Wendy Lidell and Cinetic Media’s Jason Ishikawa.