in partnership with PBS

CHARM CITY Screening and Q&A -

Filmed over three years, the ground-breaking documentary follows the city of Baltimore and interactions with its police force


About CHARM CITY:
Filmed over a three-year period when the city’s nickname has never seemed less apt, CHARM CITY tackles, head on, the difficult circumstances facing both police and citizens in Baltimore. Directed by renowned documentary producer Marilyn Ness, (Cameraperson; Trapped; E-Team) the film is structured around a small constellation of memorable characters—community members, local elected officials, and law enforcement personnel—living and working in Baltimore during a period of sharp increase in homicides and following the police killing of Freddie Gray. At times, their circumstances highlight the current crisis of violence and distrust between civilians, officials, and police officers, and ultimately their actions help point a way forward. As we move between occasionally intersecting and often unpredictable lives, the camera forces intentional shifts in perspective insisting the audience consider new and often conflicting points of view—and how, ostensibly these constituencies are working toward the same goal. Challenging intellectual complacency, CHARM CITY combines the intimacy of close-up observational footage in the field with a lyrical score by Todd Griffin (Life, Animated, One Of Us) to give us a sensitive and profoundly humane portrait of those surviving in, and fighting for, the city they call home.

This special screening will be followed by a conversation with director-producer Marilyn Ness.

**Official Selection—Tribeca Film Festival 2018**
**Official Selection—AFI Docs 2018**
**Official Selection – Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2018**
**Official Selection – Maryland Film Festival 2018**

Directors' Statement:
Like a lot of verité films, we couldn’t have known what was coming as we started filming. What began as a search to better understand the divide between police and citizens landed us in Baltimore during the three most violent years in the city’s history. We found ourselves with a constellation of characters — from police officers to community members to politicians — all tasked, in some way, with standing in the maelstrom. Instead of looking at the growing problem of violence in our cities through the castigating lens of the nightly news, we decided to do something radical. We looked at each of our characters and their daily struggles with deep empathy. The result, for me, was profound.

The stark reality is that everyone becomes less safe when police and citizens cannot overcome decades-long pervasive distrust and despair. We are seeing this in cities across America including Baltimore, Chicago, and St. Louis as homicides and gun violence climb at a shocking pace. Unless we tackle the complexity of these questions — many of which have been neglected in polite conversation for so long, those conversations have only gotten more difficult — we will never get to the heart of what spurs violence and collective trauma in our cities. In this post-2016-election world where the echo chambers drown out productive conversations, CHARM CITY dares to wade into the most challenging questions facing police, citizens, and the leaders tasked with protecting them. Though they are all ostensibly working toward the same goals, we untangle why they are seemingly, eternally, at odds with one another. Our intention is to build empathy where currently there is opposition, in order to open a long needed national conversation where everyone can feel safe enough to participate.
-- Marilyn Ness, Director/Producer

About the Filmmaker:
Whether she is producing or directing, Marilyn Ness has created a body of work that addresses complex social problems through deeply human stories, artfully told. Cameraperson, Trapped, E-Team, and 1971 were all made with this ethos in mind; each of them were intended to entertain, enrage, energize, and emotionally impact an audience.

Like CHARM CITY, the stories that draw Marilyn as a director, are communal tapestries that explore difficult and contentious moments through the humanity of its subjects. In her first feature, Bad Blood, she explored a devastating moment in medical history, through the lenses of all of those who lived it: the patients, the doctors, the drug company executives, and the government regulators. Never before had all of those viewpoints been represented in one film. And yet, when all was said and done, the film was commended by all sides for being an accurate portrayal of the experience they lived through. Marilyn’s strength lies in convincing each of the “sides” to share their truth and to honor that truth with a nuanced portrayal that rejects simplification.

Similarly, the people in CHARM CITY — and the multi-layered issues facing the citizens of cities plagued by violence — deserve to be heard in all of their complexity. Because when audiences can empathize with subjects, and see their own reality reflected back at them without judgement, there is a willingness to engage in complex conversation from which we all have much to learn. That, to Marilyn, is the unique power of film.