Local film ‘Black in Minneapolis’ imagines revolt against police violence

David Buchanan is a Minnesota-based writer and filmmaker, and the mastermind behind a popular local film that is making national waves.

“Black in Minneapolis” depicts police violence, specifically in the state of Minnesota. “It really started when I saw the video of Philando Castile murdered live on Facebook,” Buchanan said. “That’s when I put pen to paper and actually wrote the film. It took about four months to write; it got pretty much right into production after that.”

The film was initially entitled “Black.” After the unjust murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Geoff Briley, an actor in the film and a team member, recognized the importance of leveraging the racial justice movement against police violence that Minnesota catalyzed.

In 2020, the name of the film would change to “Black in Minneapolis,” and opportunity for film distribution would rise. “When everything happened with George Floyd and of course, buildings are being burnt and riots are starting, I got a few calls from the distribution companies that I had reached out to prior that said, ‘Hey, this is the film that you sent me,’” Briley recalled. These companies recognized the uncanny similarity, between “Black in Minneapolis and the events happening in real-time, in Minnesota.

“Black in Minneapolis” centers around a Black man who starts a revolt after the police unlawfully murder his brother. The film’s protagonist Joe is played by Emmy Award-winning actor Toussaint Morrison. “Going into it, [the question] was, how is this person dealing with loss and having to live in the city where the murderers of his brother are celebrated, exonerated and paid? That type of anger and rage, it will change you,” Morrison said.

Photo by Anthony Harlin at Harlin Photography Director David Buchanan

Buchanan shares how, unique to Minnesota, the cast and crew of his film were predominately Black. “It’s told by Black people. I’m a Black man, we had two Black producers—a Black man and a Black woman. All the cast was Black, 90%, aside from the cops.”

Because of this, many members of the cast like Morrison and Briley were able to bring their real feelings and experiences about racial injustice in Minnesota to the forefront. “As Black males, you know, what happened to Philando is the headline but also, sadly, we are already familiar with it. I had already lost people to gun violence, people who lost their livelihood to police brutality,” said Morrison.

To add another element of realism, Buchanan made a clever creative decision to include interviews with real people who have experienced police violence in the film. This brought a documentary aspect to this otherwise fictional narrative. “If you sit down with a person for an hour, hour and a half, they’ll just talk to you and start to tell stories,” he said.

“I also wanted the audience to recognize, yeah, you’re watching something that’s supposed to be entertaining [and], even though I want people to be entertained by the film, I also want them to kind of recognize that we [Black people] are real human beings out here and things are happening,” Buchanan explained.

Buchanan is also very clear and protective about his intentions for the film. It is a film by Blacks for Blacks without much consideration for any other group of people as consumers. “If it’s a different movie that doesn’t have to deal with such traumatic events, then it’s like, yeah, I want everyone to see my film…

“But I’m not going to pretend like I’m making something for every single person on planet Earth. Because then you’re probably not going to please anybody,” he said.

“Black in Minneapolis” is not just the story of Black folk, but also the story of a city—our city—that has in recent months revealed how deep to the roots racial injustice and police brutality run in this land.

“This film is not only from the perspective of a Black man, but it has a Minneapolis aspect to it,” Morrison said. “It’s going to influence the dialogue of Black people militarizing and being justifiably angry.”

“Black In Minneapolis” is now available to stream on iTunes, Vimeo On-Demand, and Amazon. To learn more about this film, go to blackinminneapolis.com.