Most documentaries are notable for presenting issues that have often been explored at length from new angles or perspectives that add to the knowledge of the viewer. Kaepernick & America is not one of them, instead serving mainly as a repackaging of what is already well known with complimenting interviews sprinkled in.
After the murder of Philando Castile n 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began silently protesting racial inequities and police brutality during the national anthem at the beginning of each game, leading to a national uproar and divide that ultimately resulted in a lasting political statement. Filmmakers Tommy Walker and Ross Hockrow take a step back and present a look at Kaepernick’s upbringing before getting to the well-known history of his activist stances during games. What the film does well is that it accurately captures the social divides of our times and the racial inequities plaguing the country through a retelling of events and various perspectives. The inclusion of a former veteran teammate of Kaepernick’s, the man who actually ended up recommending kneeling instead of sitting, is a bright spot in the film that not only sheds a different light on subject, but also represents the ability for two people to come together, from different perspectives and backgrounds, to move forward.
But it all just felt like it was done before, that instead of revealing something we already didn’t know (about Kaepernick and the events), the film is content with just recapping them. What’s clear is that Kaepernick took a stand and has suffered greatly professionally and in the court of public opinion, and that the ugliness that erupted as a result of his kneeling revealed true fissures that persist in our society. The film, however, doesn’t do much new with that.
Seen at the 2022 Tribeca Festival