‘72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square” Documentary INFO
Prepared by Jill Ross Stein, publicist, UPFront Communications, LLC
For filmmaker Tigre Hill
Philadelphia-based documentary filmmaker Tigre Hill tackles race, class, criminal justice, the media and ultimately the truth in his new documentary titled: “72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square.”
“72 seconds” is the tick-tock to the intertwining lives of two young men - one black, one white, one from North Philadelphia, one from the Philadelphia suburbs, one an aspiring rapper, the other a well-off real estate developer.
Michael White and Sean Schellenger meet on a hot July evening in the ritzy Rittenhouse Square section of Philadelphia in 2018. One man allegedly says, “I’m going to beat the black off of you.” Their 72 second encounter features a large knife, an alcohol infused rage, a mysterious Taurus car driven by a person never found...the result, one man dead, the other ultimately on trial. Does this racially charged language make the victim a racist? Does race really matter in this case? It is murder or self defense? Is the knife a weapon or one man’s protection? The details matter but so does our current political climate.
The Philadelphia District Attorney (DA) Larry Krasner is a well-known progressive with a political agenda. Does this cloud his judgment? Why does a City of Philadelphia Public Defender step up after a 7-year hiatus in court to personally litigate this case. This is a story of murder, self defense, and ultimately, how people “perceive reality” in the age of progressive and right-wing political clashes. The story made national news when Fox News and other national media address the case. Fox News TV host, Tucker Carlson asks a national audience, “Why is the Philly DA, ‘soft on crime’?”
The 72 second encounter is riveting in its details and filmmaker Hill takes the viewers behind the scenes with more than 20 interviews with White, his family members, Schellenger’s parents and defense and prosecution team members, media and cultural commentators. From the 911 calls to the trial to the sentencing hearing, Hill tackles the case with his usual “eye to detail” that only a documentarian can convey.
Tigre Hill tackled political corruption in his critically acclaimed documentary, The Shame of a City, and in Barrel of a Gun, he addressed the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and the conviction of black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. Hill’s work tackles cultural controversial subjects but ultimately his goal is the truth.
“72 Seconds” will take the viewers through the fateful evening, the background of the two men, Michael White and Sean Schellenger and the trial that has their families and Philadelphians still talking about race and justice. The 2020 relevance is how Hill wraps the story around the politics of the left and right while addressing the way the Philadelphia news media mis-reported the story. Hill gets to the bottom of the story using film and story techniques to tell the viewer the truth no matter how controversial.