Flint: The Poisoning of an American City Movie Review

Written, produced and directed by David Barnhart, ‘Flint: The Poisoning of an American City,’ tells the terrifying story of an abandoned city that feels forgotten. 
After all these years of knowing what they’re faced with, it is, heartbreakingly and at great cost, still in crisis. The information within this film is informative and, purposely, easy to understand. In case you don’t understand what’s really going on in Flint, as an American citizen, you owe it to yourself to watch this film to see what can become of a once thriving community. This documentary not only servers to cry out for the people of Flint Michigan, but to function as a warning to the American people that your city could be next.

Documentary footage made by GM in the 1950’s is used throughout to show you how valuable GM was to the Flint. The most noteworthy use of this to connect us to what’s happening today is the voiceover actor telling the people of Flint then that what’s happening here in Flint can happen to any city in the U.S… any city. It exclaims blithely that it happened in Flint, it can happen in your town, too. Barnhart didn’t include this to tell us that an automobile industry could be moving in and create a boom for the economy, but instead that we, too, can be poisoned by people who just don’t care about us.


Barnhart manages to compile years of information into this documentary that not only clearly explains what the people of Flint have gone through and are still going through, but how they feel and what they’re doing about it. Clips of politicians are inserted during senate hearings. Those who take the citizens of Flint into consideration and those who don’t. This is very powerful. Members of Michigan’s government and the EPA were asked the hard questions as to how this water crisis happened. Where was the accountability? Governor Rick Snyder, who ended his final term in 2018, appointed an Emergency Manager who made all critical water decisions.

The largest decision was made in 2014. Flint disengaged from the Detroit water department, that were drawing from Lake Huron, to Flint’s river water… all to save a little money. The river water had been contaminated by decades of industrial use. Back in the 1960’s, they resolved not to use the river water because of what they already knew. Why go back to using an old system knowing the community will be drinking, basically, toxic sludge? Due to a Michigan law, the Emergency Manager’s decisions were final and could not be questioned. The river water was to be used and that was that. After the country learned of what was going on, President Obama declared Flint a state of emergency. The people who are unable to leave Flint due to their economic position, still do not have clean drinking water, even though they are sent a water bill every month. A resident said in so many words that they’re being charged to be poisoned.


In an entertaining manner, Barnhart’s film tells us a great deal of the history of Flint. After, it dives deep into the amount of lead in the water, gives us personal accounts of the damage it’s doing to people, especially the new developing brain of the very young and also gives important insights into what can happen if this country doesn’t start looking into infrastructure and replacing old pipes as soon as possible. Water is sacred and scarce. Shouldn’t we be treating it as such?

Swiss company Nestle sure understands the importance of water in America. They’re pumping water out of Northern Michigan wells and bottling it. They’re charged by the state only $200.00 a year and making profits in, most likely, the billions. The residents of Michigan can buy up to seventy cases a month per family. When the deal was made, Gov. Snyder was asked how Nestle could get such a deal. His appalling answer was that they complied with current rules. I can’t think of anything more enraging than Flint residents being taken advantage of to that degree.

I cannot possibly state how important this is to see but a postscript tells us that 100,000 people were exposed to lead and chemical poisoning in Flint, of which many have died or will be ill for the rest of their lives. Since, only fifteen employees of Snyder’s administration and the Department of Environmental Quality were charged in the water crisis. That hardly seems fair. I implore you to see this exceptional documentary to gather illuminating information that will help you understand what can be done to stop this from happening in your state. 


*Flint will be available on Digital January 27 from Upstream Flix.


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Flint: The Poisoning of an American City

Director: David Barnhart
Writers: David Barnhart
Running Time: 1h 25m
Genre: Documentary



tmc.io contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for tmc.io. I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. I'm now working on my first feature film which is a lot of work but a lot of fun! Though it's hard to answer this questions when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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