Film review

Every Mother’s Son

“In the winter of 1994, police killings were on our minds because they were so much a part of our environment in New York City,” directors Kelly Anderson and Tami Gold explained in a statement.

“When Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man, was shot at 41 times in his own vestibule, we felt we had to get out there with a camera and talk to people for our own sanity, to understand what was happening. It was like the topic of this film chose us.”

The result is “Every Mother’s Son,” which had its world premier at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival May 2. It went on to win the Audience Award, no small feat considering the festival includes about 250 films from 42 countries.

“Every Mother’s Son” is the story of three women in New York City – Iris Baez, Kadiatou Diallo, Doris Busch-Boskey – whose sons were killed by police officers and who have transformed their personal tragedy into an opportunity to reform policing nationwide.

“We both felt that it was not enough to make a documentary about police brutality alone. We wanted it to deal with these issues, but also to have a human component and an aspect of hope,” Anderson and Gold said.

“The three mothers in ‘Every Mother’s Son’ have found a resilience in themselves that is remarkable and can provide inspiration to others.”

This film is a stark, honest indictment of the NYPD and the criminal justice system in general. The filmmakers use footage – some supplied by the families – to give insight into the personalities of the victims and to bring us into the courtroom to witness the failure of the system to hold the police accountable.

None of the police officers served prison time for killings, although Officer Francis Lavoti is serving seven years in prison for violating Baez’ civil rights.

One cannot overstate the importance of the subject matter of this film. “Ultimately, we would like the viewer to understand that police brutality is a problem that extends far beyond individual ‘bad cops,’ and that many of the problems facing us are systemic in that they have to do with policies that put police officers in situations where abuses are likely to take place,” the directors said.

– Gabe Falsetta