The Force

The Force goes inside the Oakland Police Department's struggles to confront federal demands for reform.

Oakland police academy
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
January 22, 2018
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2017 Sundance Film Festival-Best Directing, US Documentary
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2017 SFFilm Festival-Golden Gate Award
  • Pete Nicks

    Pete Nicks

    Peter Nicks is an Emmy Award-winning shooter/director known for his courageous cinema vérité style. He directed/produced The Waiting Room, which was released theatrically in 2012 to critical acclaim, shortlisted for an Oscar and won numerous awards including the Truer Than Fiction Independent Spirit award. Nicks is a 2015 United States Artist Fellow Show more in the midst of his trilogy of timely, immersive films exploring the interconnected narratives of health care, criminal justice and education in Oakland, CA. Show less

    Other ITVS Films
    The Waiting Room
    Linda Davis

    Linda Davis

    Linda Davis is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who produced The Waiting Room (Independent Lens), a vérité portrait of a day in the life at a public hospital in Oakland, California, which received critical recognition and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best documentary. She also produced The Kill Team (also Independent Lens), about a soldier in Show more Afghanistan who attempted to report war crimes committed by his platoon, which won Best Documentary Feature at Tribeca in 2013 and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. Her experience includes work on several feature-length documentaries, including The Rape of Europa and Jon Else’s Wonders Are Many: The Making of Doctor Atomic. Show less

    Other ITVS Films
    The Kill Team
    The Waiting Room
    Lawrence Lerew

    Lawrence Lerew

    Lawrence Lerew was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the Independent Lens film The Waiting Room. He studied at the University of Arizona, and has worked on numerous documentary films, including Wounded Knee (2008), the Oscar-nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009), and The Kill Team (2013).

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    The Film

    The Force goes deep inside the long-troubled Oakland Police Department as it struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson, MO, and an explosive scandal.

    A young chief, hailed as a reformer, is brought in to complete the turnaround at the very moment the #BlackLivesMatter movement emerges to demand police accountability and racial justice both in Oakland and across the nation.

    Meanwhile, young cops in the Academy learn how to police in a new era of transparency and accountability. And out on the street, the camera gets up close as rookie and veteran officers alike face an increasingly hostile public where dueling narratives surround each use of force. Officers are being watched like never before as they respond to a constant flood of 911 calls, revealing the wide gulf between how cops see themselves and how they are seen by the public.

    Despite growing public distrust, the OPD is garnering national attention as a model of police reform. But just as the department is on the verge of a breakthrough, the man charged with turning the department around faces the greatest challenge of his career, one that could threaten not only the progress that has been made, but the very authority of the institution itself.