EXCLUSIVE: John Ridley’s Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 — the feature documentary that looks at the years and events leading up to the April 1992 riots after the Rodney King verdict — is getting a theatrical release April 21 on both coasts. This film marks ABC News’ first theatrical production and release.
Let It Fall was produced in partnership with ABC News’ Lincoln Square Productions. A broadcast version of the documentary will air April 28 (9-11 PM) on ABC. It’s all pegged to the 25th tragde-versary of the uprising.
Ridley, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years A Slave, is still also working on a feature film with Imagine Entertainment on the L.A. Riots which is still in development, but he told Deadline the idea for the broadcast docu becoming a feature docu evolved as they began working.
“The idea to have a feature-length version of the documentary rolled out of the idea of a one-hour doc based on news clips. Then it became two hours and ABC said, let’s do a theatrical release,” Ridley told Deadline. “ABC News had an incredible amount of news footage. In working with them and being able to shape narratives, there felt like there was a real cinematic quality in a feature-length documentary. As the project continued to evolve, people really thought that the story was very strong as were the varying perspectives from different people.”
Let it Fall features exclusive interviews with eyewitnesses and people directly involved in the events from diverse neighborhoods across the city, including black, white, Hispanic, Korean, and Japanese Americans.
“The big takeaway for this for me was that individuals rose up and there were selfless acts as people tried to rescue each other and connect,” he said. “When the system failed not everyone as a person failed. It’s as emotionally beautiful as it is emotionally harrowing.”
The film, written, directed and produced by Ridley, also delves beyond the conflicts between law enforcement and the black community to look at tensions across the city as a whole, tracing the roots of the civil unrest to a decade before the riots.
The documentary was also produced by Jeanmarie Condon, marking her first theatrical production. Another producer on Let it Fall is Fatima Curry and the co-producer is Melia Patria. The film also has an original score from Mark Isham.
April is a big month for Ridley as his limited series Guerrilla will premiere April 16 on Showtime. That one stars Idris Elba, Freida Pinto, and Babou Ceesay and was co-produced by Fifty Fathoms and ABC Signature for Showtime and Sky Atlantic. Ridley is also the creator, director and exec producer of ABC’s American Crime; Season 3 of that is currently airing.