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June 5, 2018 | by  | in TV |
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Flint Town: Season 1

In the 8-part documentary series Flint Town, directors Jessica Dimmock, Zackary Canepari, and Drea Cooper devote 12 months of their time to being part of the police force of Flint, Michigan — a small American city still feeling the effects of a succession of unfortunate and brutal shocks to its community and body politic. First, the city’s largest employer General Motors closed its plants in Flint, meaning a major loss of jobs for the town’s workers. Following that was the city’s water crisis, a result of a change to the source of the city’s drinking water that ultimately exposed the city’s 100,000 residents to lead contaminants.

Rocked by such events, with a lack of proper manpower and statistics, Flint became one of America’s poorest and most dangerous cities. Unlike the setting of a Hollywood movie, Flint Town takes viewers to a place they will never likely visit or see. The audience is treated to a depressed, dramatic landscape comprising of poverty, vulnerability, and desperation with no easy fixes. Flint Town plunges head first into the world of the disenfranchised and marginalised in a big way.
The series, following events paralleling the 2016 election campaign, mainly focuses on the day-to-day experiences and trials of the Flint police department, an institution in a state of disrepair and instability with dwindling resources and staff members. Viewers are informed that the number of department officers has decreased from 300 to 98 over the last 10 years – the lowest number out of comparably sized US cities.
The police, depending on the situation, alternate between embodying aggression, awkwardness, and understanding — a result of the clear stress and exhaustion brought about by the role they play in the community. Despite the series only lasting 8 episodes, it manages to create and develop a few personal story lines that go beyond simply seeing these characters as working officers.

While the obvious focus of the series is that of the police force, the series isn’t about the police in an unfortunate city; it’s a series about that unfortunate city, expressed through one of the few groups able to experience and discover all parts of it. The series eventually begins to intertwine the community’s reactions and feelings towards the city’s police force to create an intriguing dialogue between the city residents and those who are expected to protect them, reminding the audience that conflicting viewpoints do indeed exist.
What many will notice immediately about the series is its atmospheric cinematography and filmmaking, which serves to helpfully reminds the audience that more exists in Flint beyond crime and poverty.
However, at times it can be more beautiful than it perhaps needs to be, aestheticizing crime scenes, splatters of blood, bullet casings, empty homes, the hands of a dead teenager in the snow. Furthermore, the at times inconsistent filmmaking can get in the way of the story it is trying to tell.
The disagreement on profession-specific ideals between the officers of Flint serves to reduce the power of the idea of treating “the police” as a single entity.

Flint Town ends up being a much more open and apt assessment of how race and class issues may affect community relations, and ultimately challenges the wisdom of short-term answers to long-term problems.

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