Ultraviolence: the shocking, brutal film about deaths in police custodyOctober 12, 2020
Two decades ago the police tried to silence Ken Fero’s fearless documentary Injustice. Twenty years later, his follow-up is filled with even more pain and outrage
It has taken 19 years for Ken Fero to complete the follow-up to Injustice, his unforgettable film about deaths in police custody. But perhaps the surprising thing is that he finished it at all. Injustice is the great documentary about brutality in the police – a shocking exposé of deaths resulting from beatings, shootings, teargassing, asphyxiation and neglect. The film, co-directed by Tariq Mehmood, won numerous awards, yet was never shown on television and as good as destroyed Fero’s career. As he says today, no broadcaster would touch him after Injustice.
Yet Fero is now back with Ultraviolence, another collaboration with Mehmood and their film-making collective Migrant Media. Like Injustice, it does far more than document deaths in custody. It follows the families who have lost loved ones on their heroic, if thwarted, fights for justice. We witness the horror of their loss, see them build up hopes of justice, and gradually see that hope pricked. Nearly all the victims are people of colour – a reminder that Britain has been every bit as contaminated by police brutality over the decades as the US.