Private Project

Lights of Baltimore

LIGHTS OF BALTIMORE documents the war of images surrounding Baltimore in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in 2015—images produced by media, community, and police each battling to tell the story of one of America’s greatest and most troubled cities. It asks what has changed in Baltimore, and in America, since the MLK protests on those same streets in 1968.

  • Sabrina Bouarour
  • Sabrina Bouarour
  • Sabrina Bouarour
  • David Lindeman
  • Beau Willimon
    House of Cards, The First
  • Jordan Tappis
    The First
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 15, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Saint Louis International Film Festival
    Saint Louis, Missouri
    United States
    November 16, 2020
    North America Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Ocean City Film Festival
    Ocean City
    United States
    March 4, 2021
    Best feature film winner
Director Biography - Sabrina Bouarour

Sabrina Bouarour is a French independent filmmaker with strong ties to Baltimore. After having taught film theory and filmmaking at Johns Hopkins University and at La Sorbonne Nouvelle, she now teaches at Columbia University (Reid Hall) and Gustave Eiffel University. She holds a PhD in film and media studies from La Sorbonne Nouvelle and graduated from L'Ecole Normale Supérieure (rue d'Ulm), and the CFJ (School of Journalism) in Paris. The articles she wrote as a journalist appeared in a wide variety of publications including Le Monde and So Film. She is a Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund Fellow and has been supported by the Maryland Humanities, the Roy W. Dean Foundation ("2016 Hot films in the making"), the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and the Ile-de-France Region (FORTE). In 2016, she founded Flying Impalas, a Baltimore-based film company. Lights of Baltimore is her first feature film.

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Director Statement

I arrived in Baltimore in 2013, as a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University while beginning my Ph.D. in film studies at The Sorbonne University. Fascinated by the city, I stayed. For four years. I wanted to understand the particular character of each neighborhood and the nature of the invisible boundaries between them which, I later learned, are the legacy of redlining practices.
I wanted to explore the city images and dig into its local archives. I became fascinated by the colors of its murals that beautify decaying buildings. I met street artists who want to change their city, discovered the city's local art scene, its jazz history, its Club Music. I came to love Baltimore’s sound during the summer. Its fireflies, its quirkiness, its mystery. I started diving into Baltimore’s past to better understand its present.
Lights of Baltimore is the result of five years' questioning of a city I came to call home.
This film was made with little funding but great support. Making a documentary was an incredible journey, and I am grateful to my team, friends, mentors, supporters, but mostly the Baltimore communities who keep fighting and stay resilient despite all the challenges they face.
This documentary is my personal vision of a city that I hope the Baltimorean will recognize as their own. Perhaps those who have never been there will feel drawn to visit.
My hope is that stories of some of the people who are helping to build Baltimore’s future will help audiences understand all that is at stake, deepening their empathy for those they think they already know and, more challenging still, developing empathy for those they did not previously understand.