"Verbatim drama, at its best, is aesthetically indistinguishable from high art."
— Michael Billington, The Guardian
LOS ANGELES (March 30, 2016) — The controversial shooting of Michael Brown is to be reenacted on the screen for the first time in FERGUSON, the filming of a play based on actual grand jury witness testimony.
Written by journalist and documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer and carried exclusively on The Daily Wire
represents the first filmed dramatization of the controversial shooting that prompted public outcry and riots. The shooting gave rise to the Black Lives Matter campaign with protestors claiming that white police officer Darren Wilson shot black teenager Brown as he was surrendering with his hands up.
is the filming of a staged reading of the play
of the same name that caused enormous controversy when it opened in Los Angeles last year. Nine of the 13 actors walked out when they discovered that the Grand Jury testimony did not match their understanding of what had happened.
the play was “verbatim” theater, which is defined as “a play constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event or topic.” In FERGUSON, the script consists of unaltered witness testimony, exactly as the Ferguson grand jury heard it. The actors complained that the testimony makes it clear that the jury was correct in not indicting Wilson and that Wilson had no choice but to shoot Brown.
Now The Daily Wire is bringing the truth
of what happened that day to the screen and offering it free online. Directed by veteran actor and director Basil Hoffman, FERGUSON
is a riveting minute-by-minute countdown to the last seconds of Michael Browns life as told by multiple witnesses with multiple viewpoints. It also features evidence from forensic experts and medical examiners.
“I want to bring the truth about what happened that day to a wide audience,” said McAleer, a veteran journalist and filmmaker. “I think they will be very surprised, even shocked, when they hear the clear and unaltered truth about the events that took place on Aug. 9, 2014. There are a lot of myths and half-truths circulating about the shooting. FERGUSON
is a chance to dispel these once and for all.”
Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire
was acclaimed by critics and drove national dialogue about what really happened the day Michael Brown died. It’s a mythbusting work of importance, and we couldn’t be prouder to bring it to the broader public for the first time
The left leaning LA Weekly
said Ferguson was "divisive, but riveting" and "an incendiary night of theatre". The play was covered by a huge range of media outlets including NPR
, The Hollywood Reporter
and Rush Limbaugh
Concludes McAleer, who covered numerous crime scenes and court cases while reporting on the troubles in Northern Ireland for The Irish News and UK Sunday Times, “I’ve always been fascinated with the truth and with reexamining facts once the controversy and grief have abated. That is what I want to bring to the audience with FERGUSON.”
McAleer is also a producer and director of documentaries, including FrackNation
, about fracking (“meticulously researched...provocative” — The New York Times
; “briskly paced... [a] mischievous pic.” — Variety
); Not Evil Just Wrong
, examining the devastating consequences of global warming hysteria; and Mine Your Own Business
, exploring campaigns by foreign environmentalists against large scale mining projects in the developing world, which the UK Guardian described as “A Michael Moore-style documentary [that] casts the green movement as the influential villain of a worldwide campaign to block development and deny people the chance of jobs and a decent life.”
He is currently producing Gosnell
, a feature film about Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, whom ABC News described as “America’s biggest serial killer.” As a foreign correspondent with the Financial Times
and The Economist
, McAleer covered the post communist chaos in Eastern Europe, and he is a regular columnist for the New York Post
. He has appeared on BBC
and Fox News
, among others.
The provocative nature of McAleer’s projects make traditional financing difficult. With FrackNation
, McAleer bypassed traditional funding methods and instead turned to Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website. It was one of the most successful documentary campaigns in Kickstarter history: in just 60 days, 3,305 backers donated $212,265. His Indiegogo campaign for Gosnell was the site’s most successful ever, with over 26,500 people contributing $2.25 million in 45 days. FERGUSON is also being financed through crowdfunding. For more information, or to make a contribution, go to FergusonThePlay.com