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If I Die Tonight Film Review

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Police Brutality and Cop Killings Juxtaposed in Intriguing Documentary


Everybody knows about Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Rodney King and Abner Louima, all black men who became victims of police brutality. But what about the nameless cops killed in the line of duty, men and women who might have survived had they been less cautious and gotten the jump on their assassins?

If I Die Tonight, directed by Berklee School of Music grad Seyi, cleverly juxtaposes the plight of these two different groups of victims, primarily by showing how the loss of loved ones forever affects their wives, children, parents and friends. Seyi clearly has a sense that most of us probably come to the table already harboring a very strong allegiance either to the inner-city community or to the police department. So, here he has opted not to indict one side as right and one as wrong, by instead focusing on the humanity of both sets of martyrs, the black and the officers in blue.

For, the tears of widows and orphans speak an international language which needs no further explanation. The point of the picture is not to vindicate cops who kill innocent African-Americans but to suggest that theirs is a tough job where split-second decisions or indecision is often a matter of life and death.

Everybody knows

Among the luminaries appearing in the film are Reverend Al Sharpton, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, New York State Senator Eric Adams and retired Sergeant Delacy Davis, author of Black Cops against Police Brutality: A Crisis Action Plan. But the most poignant moments arrive not when the experts weigh-in but when grief-stricken relatives like Nicholas Heyward, Sr. wistfully reminisce about the dearly-departed. Tragically, his 13 year-old son was shot by a cop while playing with a toy gun.

A thought-provoking documentary highlighting the human suffering which radiates like ripples on a pond in the wake of criminal behavior not only by racist police with itchy trigger fingers but by cop killers to boot.

Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: Vibe Alive Entertainment
Distributor: Indican Pictures

To see a trailer for If I Die Tonight, visit:

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze.

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