Tag Archives: stand your ground law

Film Review: 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (3 ½ Minutes Can Last a Lifetime!)

Written by Orville “Kunga” Dread



“Trayvon’s father text me a couple days after it happened,” he said… “I just want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in.” – Ron Davis father of Jordan Davis (February 19, 1995- November 23, 2012)

On Friday November 23 2012 at around 7.30pm, Jordan Davis 17, African-American was shot 3 times by Michael Dunn a 47 year old, white American who took a dislike to the loud ‘rap-crap’ music coming from the vehicle Jordan and his friends were sitting in. 7 more shots were fired as Davis’s teenage friends tried, panic-stricken, to make their escape from the Jacksonville petrol station in middle-class suburbia.

3 ½ minutes, Ten bullets (2015), is a groundbreaking, access-all-areas documentary by award-winning director Marc Silver (photo) and is both intrusive and intimate. The critically acclaimed film also provides an insightful look at a justice system many consider to be flawed; in a country which purports to uphold the unalienable rights that all men are created equal, yet it’s a country where a black man is up to *40 times more likely to be shot by police than his white counterpart-  (*ProPublica 2014).

“If the facts are against you, then argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If both are against you, put someone else on trial!” – Closing argument of Florida Assistant State Attorney, John Guy.

John Guy the attorney for the state of Florida was also involved in the Trayvon Martin case in a failed attempt to prosecute George Zimmerman; Zimmerman who also felt he had no choice but to defend himself, to stand his ground and to shoot a 17 year old teenager to death. It is this paradox this gripping documentary attempts to scrutinise. How does a man, of apparent good standing, now stand accused of the murder of an unarmed teenager, calmly leave the scene and order a pizza? The film also asks questions of society at large. A society that has been taught to view young Black men as armed, angry and dangerous.

Stand your ground  – “A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself”

The controversial section of that law relates to the fact that there is no “duty to retreat,” meaning that in non-stand your ground states one must, in most cases, “first attempt to get away if he or she is able to do so”.

In Florida the state where the two young men, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin were both born, in the same month, and ironically linked in very similar and tragic outcomes. there is no such requirement; in fact the shooter is permitted to “stand his or her ground,” when firing in self defense and does not need to flee. Add to this the ruling that the shooter may have had an “honest but mistaken belief,” that the victim had a weapon then one can easily draw parallels with cases still simmering here in the U.K.
3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets_Jordan_Davis

The mental image of a belligerent Black ‘man’ in baggy pants and a hooded top may well have been enough to convince the majority white white jury to acquit Zimmerman allowing him to walk free, leaving America, once again, having to confront its uncomfortable history of colonisation and entrenched racism.

But Mark Silver (director) does not judge the system; he leaves that to the viewer. As with his previous critically acclaimed docu-feature Who is Dayani Crystal? (2014), the director skillfully connects quiet moments of reflection, with meticulous focus on the minutia, juxtaposed with the cacophony of media orchestrated debate.

In 2012, reporters from the Tamba Bay Times collated over 200 Stand Your Ground cases across the U.S and found that 15.6 percent of those homicides in which a white person killed a black person were deemed justifiable, compared to about 3.4 percent of homicides in which the perpetrator was black and the victim was white – (WJCT, Rhema Thompson, 2014).

Lucia McBath, the softly-spoken, god fearing mother or Jordan Davis, now turned vehement anti-gun campaigner, has called the Stand Your Ground law as ‘legalised lynching’, feeling it disproportionately targets young black men.

Silver’s film shows very little anger; tears, yes. But what is perhaps most haunting is the, almost child-like nature of Dunn, his ascribed white privilege making it impossible for him to acknowledge any guilt and the almost ‘matter-of-fact’ nature of Jordan’s friends, who despite barely escaping with their lives on that fateful evening as bullets pierced their vehicle and pierced through the body of their friend, seem almost accepting that Black youth in America are viewed a certain way

“Thug is the new ‘N’ word. That’s how ‘they’ be pursuing us now ‘N’ word is out ‘thug’ is in. They don’t want to be seen, (pause), ‘wrong’ so they use ‘thug’ instead of the ‘N’ word”. – Tevin Thompson, friend of Jordan Davis, 3 ½ minutes Ten Bullets.

There are also moments of humor as the young friends reflect upon their friendship with Jordan; joined by the dead boy’s father, Ron Davis a retired Delta airlines employee, they eat burgers and discuss how bad he was at basketball but how he would still want to keep on playing in order to improve, “but he was just too fast for the ball!” – Tevin Thompson. Mr Davis, who has been divorced from Jordan’s mother for a number of years, mentions how Jordan was an athlete and should have done track or baseball. They all agree.

Ron Davis and other fathers have bemoaned the fact that the women are often the voices heard and images portrayed whenever a tragedy such as the death of his son is played out in the media but remains a constant ally as both parents are unified in keeping the memory of their son alive and true. Youth from middle class America, existing far from the stereotypical lexicon of a crime riddled neighborhood, should not be in fear of flying bullets and Silver is careful in showing that these youth who are not from the concrete ghettos of America but from an environment of freshly cut lawns and regular jaunts to the nearby beach still do not escape the maelstrom of America’s racailised myopia.

“When I arrived in Jackosonville Fl, I was struck by how everyone drives everywhere. Hardly anyone walks! These two people just happened to meet at a petrol station and had an argument. An argument which lasted just 3 ½ minutes”. Marc Silver

This is a important and brave film on many levels and is a must watch as it makes America look at itself once again but perhaps more importantly it asks hard questions of the viewer. That initial feeling when faced with a group of young Black teenagers. What is the default emotion?

3 ½ minutes, Ten Bullets is in UK cinemas Now – check your local cinema for details.

The Kush Film Boutique hosted an exclusive screening of the documentary at the Regent Street Cinema – check out a snapshot of our event below:

article by Orvil Kunga  / @kungadred –  Orvil kunga founder of Welcome to Busseywood and Adrinkra Arts Collective

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/