BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The producers and participants in “Baltimore Rising” say national and local media sensationalized the protests that erupted after the death of Freddie Gray, but that their new documentary humanizes the narrative.
Activists Kwame Rose and Makayla Gilliam-Price appeared alongside director Sonja Sohn Wednesday at the Television Critics Association’s summer meeting to discuss the documentary premiering on HBO in November.
Activist Kwame Rose, left, and youth organizer Makayla Gilliam-Price participate in the “Baltimore Rising” panel during the HBO Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
The film chronicles the passionate feelings on all sides after Gray died a week after suffering a critical spinal injury while in police custody in 2015.
He was a 25-year-old arrested for what police described as an illegal switchblade. The city of Baltimore eventually reached a $6.4 million settlement with Gray’s parents.
Sohn is best known as an actress. While starring on “The Wire,” which was set in Baltimore, she developed close ties with community leaders, and she approached making the documentary as part of her “community work.”
Director/executive producer Sonja Sohn, left, and Baltimore. Lt. Col. Melvin Russell participate in the “Baltimore Rising” panel during the HBO Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
“I said, ‘The people of Baltimore are actually engaging in a much more sophisticated conversation than I was hearing or at least that the media was covering in other cities,’” Sohn said. “So at that point, it was simply my love for the community, my love for justice and my mission… and I feel like my purpose is to make the world a better place and to fight for justice and truth and freedom.”
“The Wire” creator David Simon said he was “a little worried” when Sohn first told him she intended to make a documentary about the actions in Baltimore in the aftermath of Gray’s death. He wondered if the complexities of what was happening in the city would come across on film.
“She’s come to love the city as if she was born there,” he said, “and she has documented something that’s very important.”
Rose, who was arrested twice during the protests and now works as a liaison for the Baltimore mayor’s office, said he hopes the film serves as an inspiration for everyone watching.
“I want everybody to take away from this project an inspiration inside of themselves that makes you think about the society that we live in today,” he said. “I want them to be inspired to play a part in changing society.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .