One of Marc Silver’s primary reasons for making 3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS, was to humanize a statistic. In this case, a young black man, Jordan Davis, killed in an altercation over loud music. The case became notorious because of that reason, providing a catchy hook to media coverage, not because of the tragic loss of life over something so trivial. When I spoke by phone with the British filmmaker on June 16, 2015, one of the things I wanted to know was how he had gotten the trust of Davis’ family, and about his ongoing relationship with them now that the trial is over and the film finished. We also talked about how Florida’s “stand your ground” law did and didn’t apply in this case, how he got those amazing tapes of Dunn’s prison phone calls, and the role of media in race relations in this country.
3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS is a sobering documentary about media perception, race relations, the criminal justice system, and the death of another young black man by violence. Davis was gunned down by Michael Dunn at a Florida gas station when Dunn objected to the volume at which Davis was playing his radio. In what became known as the loud music murder, Dunn was put on trial, where his lawyer attempted to obfuscate facts and put alternate theories of the events before the jury fueled by speculation unsupported by any evidence. Using footage of that trial, clips of media coverage, phone calls between Dunn and his fiancée recorded while he was in prison awaiting trial, and interview with Davis’ parents, Silver makes troubling connections between media hungry for ratings and a pernicious brand of fear-mongering that, at the very least, feeds racism, and, at the worst, as in this case, leads to a teenager dying in a hail of bullets. Silver’s previous work includes WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL and LOS INVISIBLES.