3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets Released in the UK October 2015

Written by Graeme Wood



Taking the prestigious closing slot at the East End Film Festival recently in London was British director Marc Silver’s timely documentary “3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets”.

The East End festival is the UK’s largest film festival and was held in London over July 1st – 12th, the multi-platform festival had a prestigious list of premieres, screenings, live events and awards ceremony.

Silver’s riveting documentary tells the harrowing story of how on Black Friday 2012 (the day after the US Thanksgiving), four boys in a SUV became embroiled in an argument with the man in the car next to theirs. The man had asked the boys to turn their music down, just three and half minutes later, one of the boys was dead. This powerful documentary dissects the fallout of a terrible tragedy and contributes to the ongoing debate around the issue of how much black lives matter in today’s America.


The documentary premiered at this year’s Sundance film festival and walked away with the Documentary Special Jury Award and Audience Award it will be broadcast on HBO later this year, following a limited theatrical release which includes the UK in October.

The altercation on Black Friday 2012 turned to tragedy when Michael Dunn, the white man who had argued with the boys regarding their music, fired 10 bullets at the unarmed boys, killing 17 year old Jordan Davis almost instantly. This documentary explores the danger and subjectivity of Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defence laws by weaving Dunn’s trial with a chorus of citizen and pundit opinions, and with Jordan Davis’ parents’ guiding the films narrative in and out of the courtroom.

In court Dunn’s lawyer claimed that Davis and his friends were dangerous, a characterization it was felt had more to do with the colour of the victim’s skin than anything he had said or did. The media hooked onto the fact that Davis and his friends were blasting ‘thug’ music or otherwise known as ‘hip-hop’ from their SUV at the time of the incident, a fact which seemed to clarify the racial undertones of the shooting.

More than half the sates in the US have passed ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, which allow a person to use deadly force, without obligation to retreat, when faced with a perceived physical threat of bodily harm. There was a widespread debate and focus on the law’s effects after the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012. The controversy intensified with the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager.

Silver was granted rare permission to stage a three-camera shoot during the Davis trial, bringing an unprecedented cinematic quality to the usually dry courtroom proceedings. The fact that Dunn is white and the teens African-American is central to understanding how events unfolded, however Michael_Dunn_3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bulletsno mention of race is allowed at the trial because the shooting was not classed as a ‘hate crime’. The surviving teens testimony and interview material reveal a group of average suburban kids interested in girls and basketball, but to Dunn they were gangster rappers hell-bent on his death and destruction. Dunn also claimed to have seen a shotgun in the car and that Davis directly threatened his life, although the police investigation found no weapons in the SUV or at the scene of the shooting.

Dunn and his family declined to be interviewed for the documentary but through his testimony, police interrogation and tapes of phone calls it becomes all too easy to dismiss Dunn as a racist or frightened fool but it must be remembered that Dunn would never have felt empowered to shoot his gun without the Stand Your Ground law to back his decision.

The jury in the trial were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the charge of first degree murder and the Judge declared a mistrial on that count, Dunn was however convicted on three counts of 3andahalfminutesattempted second degree murder for firing at the three other teenagers who were with Davis in the car. Dunn’s retrial for first degree murder took place in September 2014 and he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Silver issued the following statement when it was announced that HBO had purchased the rights to screen his documentary; “When we started this journey, our aim was to make sure that Jordan’s story was not going to be forgotten, that he would not become a statistic in an increasingly violent world. This is why we are so fortunate to be partnering with HBO and Participant Media for the distribution of “3 ½ Minutes”. We are now certain that Jordan’s story will reach the widest, most diverse audience possible”.

Kush is currently negotiating with the distributor about an exclusive screening in Sept

Watch the trailer here: http://www.kushfilms.com/movie_reviews/3%C2%BD-minutes-10-bullets/