Charm City

This documentary that captures the daily lives of citizens, police officers, and government officials in Baltimore between 2015 and 2017 also shows how encounters among this uncomfortable triad by turns help and compound the issues of a troubled city. Highlighted members of this system include a young councilman who declares Baltimore’s epidemic of drugs, violence, and poverty a public health crisis; a female police officer raised in one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods who empathizes with the residents’ struggles; and the paternal head of an East Baltimore community center who inspires peacekeeping on a high-risk block. Filmmaker Marilyn Ness gains extraordinary access to her subjects and apparently their trust, given her ride alongs with police and attendance at funerals for victims of gun violence. Moreover, in humanizing all sides of the conflict, Ness arrives at its crux: that all sides should spend more time talking and listening to one another.