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Riotsville, USA

Riotsville, USA

91' 2022
dir.: Sierra Pettengill

The story of a fake town in the desert, built in the 1960s by the American military as a setting for riot control exercises. The staged clashes were to prepare police forces to pacify any social protests. 

he 1960s were a time of free love in the US, but also of the Vietnam War, the struggle against racial segregation and civil rights battles. Surprised by the scale of social unrest, President Johnson's administration began to prepare for a fundamental confrontation with the "troublemakers." For the needs of the army, they built a model town in the desert, where soldiers were to practice suppressing riots. Produced by Laura Poitras and the Field of Vision collective, Sierra Pettengill's film is edited exclusively from archival materials. The practice clashes of soldiers and dressed-up "demonstrators," watched by officers from makeshift stands, resemble a bizarre TV show. However, they perfectly reflect the nervous atmosphere of those times, heated by the propaganda efforts of the US authorities. 

Konrad Wirkowski 

WATCH DOCS nomination at the American Film Festival

2022 American FF
2022 Sundance FF
2022 CPH:DOX
2022 IDFA
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91' 2022 USA
Sierra Pettengill
Nels Bangerter
Field of Vision