Linda Cook review: ‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ is one of the best documentaries you never heard of

Local News

“Finding Kendrick Johnson” is one of the best documentaries you never heard of. It’s a sad story – a mystery, really – about how a high-school student died and why his family seeks justice.

On Jan. 10, 2013, Kendrick Johnson hadn’t come home from school. His parents were worried. His father, interviewed for this film, says he had a feeling he was dead, because his children always came home on time.

On Jan. 11, 2013, Kendrick’s body was discovered rolled up in a gym mat in the high school he attended.

The state of Georgia ruled his death was accidental, and that he died from asphyxia. But his parents and the rest of his family hired their own forensic pathologist.

And he says Kendrick died from blunt-force trauma. Also, after the autopsy, some of Kendrick’s organs were missing.

To this day, no one knows what really happened. Well … maybe someone does. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

After a four-year investigation, writer/director Jason Pollock (“Stranger Fruit”) has compiled a moving film that compares Kendrick’s death to earlier deaths of young Black men. Among those interviewed are Kendrick’s family, his classmates and law enforcement officials. Pollock says the case is one of the most important in U. S. history.

Actor and activist Jenifer Lewis narrates the film with compassion and urgency.

This is not family fare, nor is it for those who are easily upset by the grisly images shown here. Pollock doesn’t shy away from the aftermath of the incident, nor does his camera turn away from the heart-wrenching grief of the family.

The story includes some stranger-than-fiction twists, but provides no answers. It’s a compelling story that deserves attention and reconsideration.

3 ½ stars

Unrated, but similar to an “R” for foul language and gruesome images.

Streaming on Prime Video, Vudu and Google Play.

Watch the trailer here.

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