Riotsville, USA


The Main 4 Fri, May 13, 2022 4:40 PM
The Main 2 Mon, May 16, 2022 2:10 PM
The Main 2 Sat, May 21, 2022 2:10 PM
Ticket Prices
General Public:$15.00 (+$2 online fee)
Members:$10.00 (no online fee)
Student:$8.00 (box office only)
Film Info
Premiere Status:Minnesota Premiere
Programs:New American Visions
Women & Film
Documentary Competition
Women Directors
Culture & Society
Social Justice
Release Year:2022
Runtime:91 min
Print Source:Wood Cleft Wedge
Director:Sierra Pettengill
Executive Producer:Charlotte Cook
Michael Y. Chow
Sue Turley
Grace Lay
Sumalee Montano
Producer:Sara Archambault
Jamila Wignot
Screenwriter:Tobi Haslett
Editor:Nels Bangerter
Composer:Jace Clayton


Riotsville is an actual place, but you won’t find it on any map. Built as a stand-in for Anytown, USA, Riotsville was conceived by the U.S. military in the late 60s to train riot police to quell dissent. Sierra Pettengill’s brilliant — and disturbing — all-archival film takes us back to the past as a lens for analyzing the present.


Utilizing riveting archival footage, Pettengill re-visits President Lyndon Johnson’s Kerner Commission, created in 1967 in the wake of civil unrest in the U.S. Ignoring the Commission’s recommendations for additional federal spending on housing and welfare, the government focused instead on increased police funding. Enter “Riotsville”, which became a training ground for the police tactics that would soon be deployed against protestors at the 1968 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The footage filmed of “Riotsville” is as stunning and surreal as anything you can imagine… it looks like something from a fictional TV show. But this unreality was ground zero for consolidating power and using the police as a force against democracy. “[A] sobering look at a distressing reality.” –Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter

Director Biography

Sierra Pettengill

A Brooklyn-based filmmaker and archivist, Sierra Pettengill is the director of the documentaries Town Hall (2013, with Jamila Wignot) and The Reagan Show (2017, with Pacho Velez). She was a producer of the Academy Award®-nominated documentary Cuite and the Boxer (2013). Riotsville, USA (2022) is her most recent documentary.