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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MKE Film Festival spotlight feature “The Blood is at the Doorstep”

Dennis Tracy
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Featured in the Milwaukee Film Festival as a Spotlight Presentation is Erik Ljung’s “The Blood is at the Doorstep.” The documentary covers the story of Milwaukee resident Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man who was shot fourteen times in the light of day by a police officer while relaxing in Red Arrow Park. This left behind a struggling community and brokenhearted family, including his mother Maria Hamilton and older brother Nate Hamilton.

“As were many Milwaukeeans, I was shocked by the amount of shots and that the shooting occurred in the middle of the day in one of Milwaukee’s most central parks, all stemming from a non-emergency wellness check. Local officials set the narrative early on as to what transpired, but the family’s voice was being drowned out,” Ljung said. “I was interested to learn more about the aftermath of an incident like this from the family’s perspective.”

That’s what Ljung said inspired him to start filming.

The Blood is at the Doorstep was filmed throughout a three-year period and directed itself on the Hamilton family as they pursued answers, organized the community together and honored Dontre’s memory. Not only did this loss greatly affect Dontre’s family, but it escalated tensions in a community where positive police-community associations were scarce. The residents of the community continued to seek answers for this injustice and became more restless as none were received.

“I hope that the film forces Milwaukee to reexamine their perceptions about the Hamilton family, grassroots activism and policing,” Ljung said. “I think the film contains something for everyone and will challenge all audiences no matter what your viewpoint is. It is not an easy film to watch, especially for those that live in this community.”

The film illustrates the Hamilton family’s journey into turning their anguish into advocacy. They rallied the community to transform society for the better and prevent similar situations in the future. He explored the death and aftermath. Ljung included essential details from all sides of the situation. It’s a stark reminder and indicator of what divides us in our communities and how we should stand up and make changes.

“The Hamilton family’s rise from apolitical to leaders of a movement is inspiring to many who watch the film. We hope that the family’s story will push viewers to take a more active role in issues they find important in hopes of bettering their community. Everyone is busy, and social media is a great platform to share ideas quickly, but if there is no action behind intentions and beliefs, we will fall into an echo chamber where everyone has a strong opinion on the hot button issue of the day. We hope that people will be inspired to engage on issues that they are passionate about for a sustained  period of time,” Ljung said.

Tickets can be bought hereThe Oct. 6 and 10 screenings are sold out, but tickets are still available for the Oct. 7 showing at 11 a.m. at the Oriental Theatre.


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