Baltimore

Synopsis in updating process presently.

Conrad is a black homeless author of a physics book. Tommy is a white, gay, Catholic Republican in jail for a hate crime. They grew up six blocks from each other in West Baltimore. And on a bitter cold night in 1972, their lives clashed violently for the first time when Tommy's father - Henry Selhorst - was shot on the street in cold blood by Conrad and two other teenagers.


Maryland's most famous civil rights attorney took the case, and the boys were acquitted. Stunned and confused, Tommy's family fled Baltimore. For generations, an inability to comprehend the crime or the acquittal infected the family like a virus.


In 2009, with her family in crisis, Tommy's niece Emily Topper takes a camera to Baltimore on a winding, frustrating, and sometimes frightening journey for answers that could help Tommy, and her family, find peace. Emily's return causes her family to dramatically intersect once again with the three men who, as teenagers, shot her grandfather.


Baltimore is the story of this intersection.

In Baltimore, riveting verite of Emily vainly searching for the killers amidst rundown row houses is supported by intimate conversations with everyone and anyone directly connected to the murder - a priest, a cop, a nurse, educators, lawyers, local luminaries and Governor William Donald Schaefer, in his last recorded interview.

We are led by Emily, our narrator and co-director, with a classic, minimalist cinematography echoing the emotional candor of the film. Memories from both white and black people recall the riots following Martin Luther King's assassination, as well as red-lining and "blockbusting" - a phenomenon that flipped neighborhoods from 100% white to 100% black in the span of five years - enriching a few real estate agents and impoverishing and confusing thousands of families. A raw, candid oral history emerges - one both achingly specific to Baltimore and recognizable anywhere in America.

Eventually, Emily meets Conrad, one of the offenders - and with this charged and emotional meeting outside of a Dunkin Donuts, decades-old fears, monsters, and assumptions begin to crumble. As the Selhorsts absorb the dramatic details of this meeting, visceral, clear shifts take place in their lives. Where the criminal justice system failed, a clear example of the power of Restorative Justice emerges.

Baltimore begins with one American family trying to save one of their own. It explores a West Baltimore neighborhood in the early seventies crumbling under the stresses of blockbusting and racism. It paints an honest portrait of a city - and a nation - still reeling from decades-old divisions. As it expands to the story of four American families - the victims and three offenders- the film shows how one violent night in 1972 impacted hundreds of lives. And through the powerful themes of restorative justice, it lays out a hopeful roadmap of how they - we - may reach across the divide to begin the repair.

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