In a Florida car park in 2012, a middle-aged white man called Michael Dunn shot 10 bullets into a car containing four unarmed black teenagers after they refused to turn down what he called their “thug music”. One of them, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, died in what would later be described by one commentator as a “21st-century lynching”.
Marc Silver’s Sundance Award-winning documentary follows the Davis family as they seek justice in court, where Dunn is citing the state’s notorious stand-your-ground self-defence law that acquitted Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman in a similarly high-profile case the same year.
Silver’s last documentary, about a dead immigrant worker, Who Is Dayani Cristal? (2013), was criticised for being too didactic. Here, he makes no such mistake. Made up mostly of footage from the court and interviews with Davis’s parents, 3½ Minutes is an unobtrusive, tautly told account of a uniquely American tragedy that is heartbreaking, incensing and all too sadly familiar.
3½ Minutes is out now