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Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd cover image

Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd 2021


Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Lindsey Seavert and Cy Dodson
Directed by Cy Dodson
Streaming, 21 mins

College - General Adult
African Americans; Protest Movements; Race Relations

Date Entered: 06/29/2022

Reviewed by Erica Swenson Danowitz, Chat Reference Librarian –Pennsylvania’s Chat with a Librarian (CWAL), Independent Contractor at Hosting Solutions & Library Consulting (HSLC); Retired Professor/Reference Librarian, Delaware County Community College

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers over Memorial Day weekend in 2020 generated global protests against systemic racism and police brutality. In this short film director Cy Dodson provides an eyewitness account of the reactions to Floyd’s death in his south Minneapolis neighborhood, considered the “epicenter of a revolution.” Dodson records events over the course of five days starting on May 26, the day after Floyd lost his life. It concludes on May 30 after days of uprisings caused mass destruction to the area.

Footage illustrates the community protests that resulted from Floyd’s murder. Demonstrations included individuals from all races/backgrounds and remained peaceful in the beginning. The first few days capture the anger and subsequent damage that accompanied the protests. By day two, some protests became more destructive as demonstrators attempted to burn down the police department’s south Minneapolis 3rd Precinct where Derek Chauvin and other involved officers were based. Dodson shows how the destruction harmed low-income people and many BIPOC individuals including a Native American community who lost a youth center as a result of the 3rd Precinct’s fire. The film also provides stunning aerial views of a ravaged south Minneapolis.

Throughout this short documentary the bystanders/protestors included in the film provide the only commentary. The filmmakers provide textual narration of particular incidents and news clips of other events (such as Chauvin’s arrest on day four) that paralleled the frictions transpiring on a particular day, but they do not participate in the narration. By day five the director presents scenes of a community rallying together to clean and repair the damage done to their neighborhood. Scenes of individuals donating food and clearing out debris from local businesses reveal how the community hoped to repair and move on together.

The five days featured in this film are bookended first by unsettling footage of Floyd’s slaying and then Chauvin’s guilty conviction for murder 11 months later. In 21 minutes, the director takes the viewer on an emotional trajectory of anger, frustration, sadness, which then ends in collaboration and unity with a message of hope that justice and better days will come. The music that accompanies this documentary reinforces the poignancy of these five days.

Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd is recommended for both the college and advanced high school levels. This film is available for internal use or with a public screening license. Some of the footage includes profanities and the initial scenes of Floyd pleading for his life may distress some viewers. Say His Name is short enough to screen during a class lecture or assigned as homework. It would support many academic courses including criminal justice, sociology, urban studies and, as the years continue to put a distance between George Floyd’s murder and the present, American history.

Best International Short (Academy Qualified), DocEdge Film Festival; Best Documentary Story, Cordillera International Film Festival; Juror Award, Centre Film Festival; Audience Choice Award, Pittsburgh Film Festival; Audience Choice, Best Documentary Short, Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival; Best Documentary, Big Waters Film Festival; Best Short Competition, Big Sky Documentary Festival

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.