Architecture on Film: Riotsville, USA + Q&A

Late 60s USA: Cities are ablaze with civil unrest, fuelled by protest and racial injustice. Archive footage charts a nation choosing to wage war on its people, despite a rare opportunity to fix old wounds.


08:30pm, Tuesday, 13 September 2022


10:00pm, Tuesday, 13 September 2022


Cinema 1
Barbican Centre, Level -2
Silk St, London, EC2Y 8DS



AF Members:
£10.00 (Please contact AF for promotional discount code)


Under 18:

Tel (9am-8pm):
+44 (0)20 7638 8891

This is a past event


We are delighted that this screening will be followed by a conversation between director Sierra Pettengill (via Zoom) and playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster, Bonnie Greer.

Riotsville, USA

In response to violent uprisings in Watts, Chicago, Detroit, and 150 other cities over the ‘long, hot summer of 1967’, the US government built model ‘Riotsvilles’ to train its police and military against urban disorder.

It also published a US Riot Commission Report, which urged for massive investment in jobs, homes and education to address underlying economic and racial inequality. Its findings were unambiguous: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal." But only the report’s supplemental advice to increase police funding was implemented. The report’s diagnosis went without its prescribed cure.

'A door swung open in the late 60s, and someone, something, sprang up and slammed it shut'
– Sierra Pettengill, Riotsville, USA

Departing from unearthed military footage of exercises in these fictive model towns, explosively framed by a web of TV broadcast at the time, and a narrative from writer Tobi HaslettPettengill artfully gives acerbic voice to archival materials to dissect a turning point in American history, and shift focus from the riots to the government’s response.

A tale of violent policing, systemic racism, polarisation and civic crisis, that finds startling resonances, and consequences, in realities 50 years on.

(Sierra Pettengill, USA, 2022, 91 mins)