In a time when racially motivated murders are occurring at an alarming rate, 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets is the film we all need right now. The world was shaken when 17 yearold Trayvon Martin was murdered, and again when Mike Brown saw the same fate. Before, in between and after, there was Freddy Gray, Miriam Carey, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, Kenneth Chamberlain, and Sandra Bland. Over time, their names stick with us, but their stories begin to melt together. 3 1/2 Minutes digs deep into one story in particular, reminding us that these names are attached to real people – people with stories that are not the same, and that are not to be forgotten.
We learn that there was once a 17-year old boy named Jordan Russel Davis, son of Ron Davis and Lucia Bath. Lucia named him after the Jordan River of the Bible, symbolizing new beginnings – a fresh start. We learn Jordan had a good relationship with his parents, who despite their divorce, made every effort to ensure Jordan never felt any absence in love. Jordan had good friends, named Tommy, Tevin and Leland. We learn that Jordan had a girlfriend, he loved basketball despite being no good at it (according to Tevin), and he enjoyed rap music. We also learn that on Black Friday 2012, Jordan was shot to death by Michael Dunn in the parking lot of a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida.
The film digs into the evolution of racial discrimination in America, and highlights what it looks like today. The racism that ended Jordan’s life came from hate disguised as rationality. In his testimony, Dunn claims he tried to reason with Jordan and his friends to turn down their rap music, which he privately nicknamed “rap crap.” Dunn also claimed that Jordan flashed a gun, which is ultimately what provoked him to shoot. Despite there being no evidence that Jordan was carrying a weapon, making this an unprovoked murder, Dunn’s trial was long and grueling for Jordan’s family and friends. This, thanks to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which removes the duty to retreat before using force in self-defense in any case where a person feels that doing so will prevent death or great bodily harm. Through its narrative and exploration into this law, 3 1/2 Minutes uncovers the unabashed American truth – that a White man’s fear has priority over a Black man’s life. 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets forces us to look at Jordan’s story for longer than we are used to. Learning someone’s name, seeing the faces of the people who love them, and hearing their story, makes us care about what happens to them, making it less likely that we will cause them harm. Marc Silver does a tremendous job in creating this shield of defence through his narrative about Jordan Davis. The film protects Jordan’s story, identity, and innocence while reminding us that the long list of men and women mentioned earlier deserve the same respect, as do the ones who will surely follow.
Watch the trailer for 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets