Facing dwindling public services, growing inequality and escalating violence, three Detroit men must fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations.
Directed by Andrew James
Produced by Sara Archambault, Katie Tibaldi
Cinematography by Andrew James
Edited by Andrew James, Jason Tippet
Music by Shigeto
In a rapidly changing America where mass inequality and dwindling opportunity have devastated the black working class, three Detroit men must fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations. Street Fighting Men, which celebrates dogged persistence in the face of overwhelming adversity, takes a deep observational dive into the lives of three African American men: retired cop Jack Rabbit, who continues to patrol the mean streets as a citizen; Deris, who has made bad choices in the past but wants to further his education and serve as a role model for his baby daughter; and Luke, who labors mightily as he rehabs a seriously dilapidated house while putting together a meager living. Shot over three years in the neighborhoods of Detroit, Street Fighting Men is a story of hard work, faith and manhood in a community left to fend for itself.
FESTIVALS / AWARDS
Winner - Spirit Award, Brooklyn Film Festival
Winner - Special Jury Award, Lake County Film Festival
Official Selection - Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston)
Official Selection - San Francisco Documentary Festival (SF DocFest)
Official Selection - Rhode Island International Film Festival (Flickers)
Official Selection - Through the Lens Screening Series (Utah Film Center and Radio West)
Official Selection - St. Louis International Film Festival
Official Selection - Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection - Athens International Film and Video Festival
Official Selection - Freep Film Festival
Official Selection - Ghent Viewpoint Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection - Brooklyn Film Festival
Official Selection - Lake County Film Festival
"Painful but honest depiction of black life in urban Detroit, featuring multifaceted men striving against the odds. A portrait of black resilience and perseverance — without sentimentality — that stands in stark contrast to the one-dimensional uplifting stories of transformation in Detroit, but still offers a way out of the dark." - April Wolfe
"This is documentary filmmaking with highly effective nuanced creative choices, especially for how James composes his cinematic counterpoint in each man’s story [ . . . ] The tension of violence’s persistence underscores every scene. James captures it effectively without ever showing violence being committed [ . . . ] As a white filmmaker, James also was sensitive to presenting the neighborhood’s story with dignity, integrity and respect that echoed its unique history, along with the emotional scars and pains that were manifest in this war for self-determination and preservation.” - The Utah Review
"Street Fighting Men embraces some heavy subject matter but it shows the natural ebb and flow that exists in people’s lives. James’ camera captures some moments of natural levity, some deeply touching moments, and some moments of real horror and sadness. If Street Fighting Men comes to theater near you it is worth your time to check out, especially if you liked Moonlight last year." - Battleship Pretension
"This is the sort of documentary that needs genuine trust between filmmaker and subject in order to get made [ . . . ] each person is one man against a system much larger than him and mostly indifferent to his struggle. They can't do it alone, and there's not that many people who have their backs." - eFilmCritic
It’s been widely reported that Detroit is making a comeback, but long-term residents of Detroit’s mostly black neighborhoods aren’t seeing much benefit. Crime, lack of opportunity and infrastructure problems still persist. In Street Fighting Men, three Detroit men have no choice but to fight for a better future. The stories of Jack Rabbit, Deris and Luke speak to deep, structural problems within the American system, but they also reflect profound spiritual truths about our shared human condition.
Distribution by First Run Features. Support provided by the Sundance Institute, San Francisco Film Society, Film Independent, Hot Docs Forum, IFP, Skywalker Sound, Kickstarter and CID.