‘Flint’ documentary covers the trauma and drama of the water crisis

It’s been eight years since Flint began using the Flint River as a water source, a move that sparked a public health crisis that has come to symbolize the dangers of putting politics before people — especially communities. of color poor and underserved.

The story of what happened, in all its frustrating, complicated and traumatic detail, is told in “Flint: Who Can You Trust?” “, who opens Friday and runs through Sunday at Cinema Detroit.

Award-winning British filmmaker Anthony Baxter spent five years making the film, which traces the disastrous consequences of the cost-cutting strategy that began with the decision to change water authorities for the economically beleaguered city.

The early chapters of the saga were covered by other film and television projects, including a 2017 Lifetime drama titled “Flint” which starred Queen Latifah. This new documentary highlights that starting point, chronicling how residents of Flint were personally affected by the discolored, odd-smelling water that began coming out of faucets.

Dangerous lead levels, corroded pipes, bottled water as a stopgap measure – it’s all there in Baxter’s captivating chronicle, which is populated by a host of familiar real-life characters, including former Governor Rick Snyder, Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, Dr. Mona Hannah-Attisha, television personality and former Michigan 36th District Court Judge Greg Mathis, and Flint residents whose grassroots activism forced the city, the state and the rest of the country to listen to their plight.

There’s even a twist in the film’s second half that pits Edwards against another character, Scott Simon, who comes to Flint to do his own testing on behalf of actor-activist Mark Ruffalo’s nonprofit environmental group. Water Defense. The resulting conflict over whether Simon’s methods are valid plays out with the dramatic tension of a scripted feature film – and, just when you think none of this crisis might surprise you, a revelation here does. .

“Flint” was screened in September 2021 by the Freep Film Festival, where Baxter participated in a post-screening virtual chat with Hannah-Attisha and attorney Trachelle Young. During the chat, Baxter revealed he was in Detroit working on another documentary when someone suggested he go to Flint to see what was going on there.

“I had my camera with me, and I went to Flint for the day and met some of the locals there and was really shocked at what I saw,” he said. he declares.

“Flint” is narrated by actor Alec Bladwin, who appears briefly near the end while visiting the city. The original fall 2021 release date was postponed following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Baldwin’s Western “Rust.”

Now that the documentary is finally out, viewers can see even more how devastating the events in Flint were and what toll they took on the men, women and children who live there.

It is the people of Flint who most deserve this attention. Like the Wrap summarized in its review“While the bad guys are many and they change in order of importance depending on the stage of the crisis, the victims never change: the people of Flint, and more unfortunately the children, suffer the consequences. is particularly egregious given that all they did was drink the water.”

Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at [email protected]

‘Flint: Who Can You Trust’

7:30 p.m. Fri, 7:30 p.m. Sat (featuring post-screening discussion director Anthony Baxter), 4:30 p.m. Sun & 7:30 p.m. May 12. Available digitally May 12.


Detroit Cinema

4126 Third Avenue, Detroit