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Documentary at Denver Film Fest challenges Boulder's inclusive reputation

Documentary at Denver Film Fest challenges Boulder's inclusive reputation
Documentary at Denver Film Fest challenges Boulder's inclusive reputation 02:47

A documentary at this year's Denver Film Festival is challenging the City of Boulder's inclusive reputation. The film "This Is Not Who We Are" includes the testimonials of several black Boulder residents including Zayd Atkinson, who won a settlement from The City.

Boulder Police

On March 1, 2019, his life was upended. While picking up trash outside of his home in Boulder, he was approached and eventually held at gunpoint by then-Boulder Police Officer John Smyly.

That encounter thrust Zayd into the national spotlight for fighting a battle many black men and women have fought, standing up against police aggression toward the black community.

"From the white perspective, we don't understand our history very well. How we got this way, and we don't necessarily have enough awareness that this is what's happening," said Beret Strong the Director/Producer of "This Is Not Who We Are."

As Zayd spoke out, lifelong Boulderite, CU Boulder graduate and filmmaker Beret Strong listened. She was already in preproduction for the film and exploring how Boulder's history shaped the city's race relations.

"We're white, wealthy, liberal on balance, and pretty full of ourselves in a certain way," said Strong. "And yet we realize now what the people who are BIPOC realized all along, that we're not treating members of our community well at all."


She worked with Zayd to tell his story in her film.

She hopes it will help Boulderites look in the mirror and ask tough questions.

"Are we the community we want to be? Are we as welcoming and inclusive as we want to be and if not do, we want to do something about it?" asks Strong.

Zayd says touring with this film has helped him repair his relationship with the community in Boulder.

"There was this eminent healing process through every one of these discussions that I'm having with people in the community," he said.

Beret says his journey was something special to document.

"His work has changed Boulder and the film has tried to amplify that," she said.

Landlocked Films/Blackcat Video Production

If you want to see this film, it will be playing at the Denver  Film Festival in November.

LINK: 45th Denver Film Festival

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