John Ridley’s L.A. Riots Doc, ‘Let it Fall,’ Coming to Theaters Ahead of TV Premiere

By Sameer Rao Mar 21, 2017

In a first for any ABC News project, "American Crime" creator John Ridley‘s upcoming documentary about the 1992 Los Angeles riots, "Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992" will air in theaters before its late-April television premiere.

Deadline reported yesterday (March 20) that the documentary will screen in select theaters starting April 21. Neither Deadline nor ABC announced any of the theaters or cities hosting screenings yet.

The theatrical run starts one week before the two-hour film’s premiere on ABC on April 28—the 25th anniversary of the acquittal of the four White Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who beat Rodney King on video.

Ridley, who won the 2014 "Writing (Adapted Screenplay)" Oscar for "12 Years a Slave," told the Los Angeles Times last December that "Let it Burn" builds a narrative of rising racial tension among communities of color and between the LAPD and the people they are charged with serving. It features interviews with Black, Latinx, Asian and White Angelenos impacted by that tension. "We’re looking at the cascade effect of certain events, actions and situations that I think clearly led to an environment where something like the uprising could happen," he said.

He added that the film follows people throughout an uprising framed by police brutality, residential segregation and other issues that prompted outrage long before King’s beating. "The big takeaway for this for me was that individuals rose up and there were selfless acts as people tried to rescue each other and connect," he says. "When the system failed, not everyone as a person failed."

Ridley also revealed he and ABC News decided on a theatrical release after what was supposed to be a one-hour film grew into a two-hour one. "ABC News had an incredible amount of news footage," he says. "In working with them and being able to shape narratives, there felt like there was a real cinematic quality in a feature-length documentary." 

"Let it Fall," which does not yet have a trailer, is one of several new productions to address the uprising. Sacha Jenkins‘ ("Fresh Dressed") "Burn Motherfucker, Burn!" premieres April 21 on Showtime and explores the riots in a historical context dating back to racist policing that prompted the 1965 Watts Riots. A Spike Lee-directed version of Roger Guenveur Smith’s ("Dope") one-man show, "Rodney King," comes to Netflix April 28. And Justin Chon ("Dr. Ken") recently debuted "Gook," a feature following two Korean-American brothers navigating conflict between Black residents and Korean shopkeepers during the riots.

(H/t The New York Times