First Run Features has released Andrew James’ acclaimed documentary ‘Street Fighting Men,’ winner of the Spirit Award at Brooklyn Film Festival. The film follows three Detroit men, who facing dwindling public services, growing inequality and escalating violence, must fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations in a rapidly changing America.
Street Fighting Men takes a deep, observational dive into the lives of retired cop Jack Rabbit, who continues to patrol his own neighborhood as a citizen; Deris, who wants to further his education and serve as a role model for his baby daughter; and Luke, who labors mightily to rehab a dilapidated house while pulling together a meager living. Shot over three years in the neighborhoods of Detroit, Street Fighting Men is a story of hard work, faith and manhood in a community that never settles for defeat.
“I became interested in making a film in Detroit after reading a Metro Times article about James “Jack Rabbit” Jackson. The article featured a picture of Jack Rabbit standing on a street corner at night with his partner, Keith, close behind him. The two men, Jack Rabbit in particular, had taken it upon themselves to be the neighborhood watch after the local police station shut down, and their story of resistance resonated with me. Jack Rabbit’s story and the struggle of his largely black working-class neighborhood is the story of our times. It has become increasingly hard to ignore how the US system is leaving behind poor, working-class and even middle-class people, many of whom are people of color, in favor of global economic interests. I wanted to create something personal and experiential, with an emphasis on the day-to-day, that could speak to this systemic decay of opportunity. I contacted Jack Rabbit and asked if we could meet. He was enthusiastic about the idea and excited to tell his story, and eager to help me understand the ups and downs of his neighborhood. After spending some time in Detroit and getting to know Jack Rabbit, we began shooting with Deris and Luke as well. It was then that I decided to move to Detroit – to capture their stories in real time. I felt that a longitudinal, fly on the wall style would allow me time to get to know the community better and find the story in collaboration with the subjects. This extended time allowed me to form close bonds with the three men, as well as others in the community, and it gave me a unique opportunity to tell their story in a very personal way.”
– Andrew James, Director/Editor/Cinematographer