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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Addresses vulnerability of America's working class in a changing economy. Promotes activism. Creates awareness of environmental racism -- in this case, government's failure to act because of makeup of population at risk.
Positive Role Models
Interviewees are engaged citizens trying to affect change. State government is portrayed as indifferent and incompetent.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Flint: The Poisoning of an American City is a documentary that tracks events leading up to and following the Flint River's contamination of a city's water supply, and the inaction of government authorities to respond to the crisis. From the 1940s and 1950s, when Flint, Michigan, was a thriving working-class community, through the departure of the automobile industry, which was its lifeblood, to its currently failing infrastructure, the city's decline is a cautionary tale. The most callous and shocking decision -- switching Flint's water supply from Detroit's water system (sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River -- is highly controversial. This film backs up previous claims that socioeconomic status and deep-seated racial bias were at the root of that decision. Straightforward and informative, this documentary is best for mature teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Informing the public about the victimization of an entire city is an invaluable contribution, and in this well-made, thoughtful documentary David Barnhart takes the opportunity seriously. It's hard not to be angered at what Barnhart discloses. Ignoring lead content in drinking water that's unequivocally known to cause brain damage in kids is criminal. Standing by while residents of all ages become ill from a wide variety of diseases (including cancer) is shameful.
Perhaps the most cynical revelation is that throughout this water calamity, Flint's residents have been regularly charged high prices for the water they cannot use. Then, when the bills go unpaid, they'll be held accountable and lose the houses for which there's no market. Flint: The Poisoning of an American City is not flashy, cutting-edge filmmaking. It's an old-school documentary -- just the facts, the faces, and the fire.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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