Street Fighting Man (2014 title) Changed to Street Fighting Men for 2017 Release


This was the website for the film, Street Fighting Man whose title has since changed to Street Fighting Men. The documentary follows three generations of men living in Detroit. The site was created in 2014 when the film was finished and ready for the film festival circuit.

The film was just released in April of 2017.

Street Fighting Man is a feature-length, narrative documentary that follows three inner-city men - each a generation apart - as they seek to define their lives in post-industrial Detroit. Deris Solomon is a young single father who wants to leave behind a high-risk life on the streets, Luke Williams is a middle-aged man remodeling a former crack house after being homeless for several years, and James "Jack Rabbit" Jackson is a retired police officer struggling to save his neighborhood from crime after the local police station is dissolved. Street Fighting Man pushes beyond statistics and headlines by sharing the lived experiences of the people who call Detroit home. Through the stories of these men, the film unflinchingly reveals how hard it can be to build a future when everything seems to be crumbling around you.

As Luke collects cans and acquires reclaimed materials to make an old home new again, Jack Rabbit must stand up to violent young criminals who were once children in his neighborhood. Meanwhile, Deris has to decide how he will provide for his daughter: by struggling to get an education, or by selling drugs like many of his peers. For each of these men, it is a war of little battles, often waged at home, at school, or in the streets. Ultimately, their three narratives collapse into one, telling the tale of one man as he attempts to make it though his youth, mid-life, and old age in post-industrial America.

Content is from the site's archived pages as well as other outside sources.

Note that the official site for Street Fighting Men can be found at: and don't forget to check out the film's facebook page at:



2014 Documentary Film Fund Winner



Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 2014
Running time: 100 minutes
Director(s): Andrew James
Producer(s): Sara Archambault, Andrew James, Katie Tibaldi
Cinematographer(s): Andrew James
Editor(s): Andrew James, Jason Tippet
Music: Zachary Saginaw (SHIGETO)
With: James "Jack Rabbit" Jackson, Luke Williams, Deris Solomon
Commercial Release Date: 30 April 2017 (USA)


From Their KickStarter Site

STREET FIGHTING MAN - a feature-length documentary

Hey Everyone! Exciting News!

We’re only days away from STREET FIGHTING MEN’s World Premiere at Independent Film Festival Boston, this Sunday, April 30th at 1:00 PM at the Somerville Theater. As a way to say thank you (and celebrate the premiere!) we are offering an early glimpse of the film. Thank you again for your support, encouragement and friendship. 

A feature-length ensemble documentary featuring stories of survival and community action on Detroit's East side.

Detroit Michigan has been decimated by the economic crisis. With the highest unemployment rate in the country, Motor City is dying, one neighborhood at a time. Not only are foreclosed homes boarded up and empty, so too are factories, warehouses, apartment complexes, and even police stations. Neighborhoods and communities with little resources have been left to fend for themselves as violent crime, drugs, vandalism, poverty, and hopelessness seep into the brick, steel, and concrete. At night, gangs and junkies literally take over, roaming the streets in search of drugs and money. According to one Detroit resident, "it's like Omega Man."


Instead of focusing on the broader question of why Detroit is suffering, "Street Fighting Man" will hone in on the specific struggles of individuals as they fight for the future of their community. One man who personifies the day-to-day struggles of the East Jefferson community is James "Jack Rabbit" Jackson, a retired cop who's lived in the Chalmers neighborhood on the east side of Detroit for most of his life. With the recent closure of the local police station, Jack Rabbit has begun to fight back.

Armed with a video camera (and a firearm when necessary) Jack Rabbit cruises the streets of East Jefferson, intimidating criminals, recording evidence, and making his presence known. He's a community activist, a post-modern sheriff, and according to some, a "socially conscious vigilante." Jack Rabbit is a complex and interesting figure. He's a father, a mentor, a boyfriend, a tow-truck driver, and a deeply committed member of the community who spends 24 hours of every day in the service of his neighborhood. Every weekend, he and his partner, Keith Hines, hit the streets to protect community interests. They know who the criminals are, where they live, where they drink, and where they do business. Amazingly, Jack Rabbit and Keith have prevented all kinds of burglary, violent crime, and vandalism over the past few years. When we were in Detroit, we had the opportunity to accompany Jack and Keith on one of their patrols.

"Street Fighting Man" will also follow several other subjects in the community as they live and work day-to-day. Each character will bring a unique perspective to the story and provide different insights into the landscape, the problems, and the possible solutions. In fact, we have made contact with several people who we are interested in participating in the project, including local business owners, pastors, homeless teenagers, drug dealers, and community activists.

Our goal as filmmakers is to paint a multilayered mosaic of this fluctuating landscape using real people and real stories. Each character will inform the next, providing both interesting and challenging juxtaposition. This will help to clearly outline the problems, complicate the solutions, and strengthen the story. In essence, the film will be more truthful, more organic, and more real if the story is told by the subjects who are living it.

The film will seamlessly weave from character to character as they make phone calls, attend meetings, spend time with their children, plant vegetables, cook, shop, work, participate in community activities, patrol streets, and debate the future of their neighborhoods with friends and loved ones. By telling the stories of several different people who share varying perspectives, "Street Fighting Man" will paint a complex portrait of a struggling community in transition.

"Street Fighting Man" will serve as an important historical record of this particularly volatile period in Detroit's history, making this film significant from a cultural, political, and anthropological standpoint. It is our hope that the film will create greater awareness and put pressure on the local government to provide public services to its citizens. Additionally, we aim to inspire, educate, and entertain. "Street Fighting Man" is a film about real people in a real place, dealing with real problems. This is a story that needs to be told and you can be a part of this empowering and important documentary.

Our goal of $6,500 is for preliminary expenses. This initial sum will help us get back to Detroit to film more footage as well as rent and/or purchase some of the equipment that we need for the shoot. The footage will be used to create a longer preview for large-sum investors. The funds will also pay for all the great rewards that we are offering for those who decide to donate.



Filmmaker's Bio

Andrew James (director) is a nonfiction filmmaker pursuing uniquely American stories with an emphasis on character and place. In 2009, Andrew completed Cleanflix, a feature-length documentary about Mormon movie sanitizers re-editing Hollywood films without permission. The  film premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival before enjoying a healthy run on the North American festival circuit. Cleanflix, which explores morality, subjectivity and censorship through the lens of Mormon movie culture, has been praised for its witty yet balanced treatment of two starkly different worlds clashing over matters of artistic censorship.

After finishing Cleanflix, Andrew moved to Michigan to begin work on Street Fighting Man, a direct cinema documentary about three men fighting to build a stable life for themselves in post-industrial Detroit. Andrew lived in the city for more than a year and cultivated close bonds with the three men featured in the film. Cited as a "Filmmaker to Watch" by The Independent, Andrew has taken Street Fighting Man to such notable venues as Independent Film Week, the Hot Docs Pitch Forum, the Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Lab and the Film Independent Documentary Lab.




In Focus: Andrew James on Street Fighting Man

June 04, 2014
SF Film Society Blog


In a new America where the promise of education, safety and shelter are in jeopardy, three Detroit men fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations.

Street Fighting Man is a 2014 SFFS Documentary Film Fund winner.

How did you first discover your subjects, and what made you decide to make a film about them?
In early 2010, I saw Sweetgrass and Last Train Home back-to-back at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. This was a turning point for me. I realized that nonfiction filmmaking could be as beautiful, complicated, cinematic and diverse as fiction filmmaking. Inspired by those films and the work of earlier pioneerslike Frederick Wiseman, I set out to do something cinematic, character-driven and timely. To that end, I began looking for a location that spoke to the themes I was interested in (inequality, self-preservation, community). I was confident that if I found the
 right place, the stories would follow. I was trying to find people who could embody something bigger than themselves - where the environment itself could be a lens through which to understand their humanity - and Detroit seemed like a good place to start looking.

I found Jack Rabbit by way of a great Detroit reporter, John Carlisle, who reports on unique Detroit stories under the pen name Detroitblogger John. He put me in touch with Jack Rabbit who accepted my offer to come to Detroit and meet. We hit it off and I began shooting almost immediately. Our next subject, Luke, actually approached us on the street when we were shooting b-roll. He told us he had scraped together 1500 dollars to buy a former crack house and was living there and fixing it up. We went that night to see the house and I shot what is still his opening sequence of the film. We found our final subject, Deris, at Young Detroit Builders. We went there with the sole purpose of finding a younger male and began meeting with kids in the program. Deris stood out to us immediately. He told us about his new baby and his desire to provide for her, and after a few weeks of getting to know him at school, he invited us to tell his story.

What do you see as the greatest challenges for documentary filmmakers today?
Funding and distribution. Consumer habits and technological advancement are real barriers to sustainable, career-centric nonfiction filmmaking. I want to make films for the rest of my life, but I worry that in order to do that, I’ll be freelancing for the rest of my life too. Outside of a broadcast deal, making money in this business is really hard.

What new opportunities are making the biggest difference to your filmmaking process?
Thanks in part to the support we’ve received from organizations like the San Francisco Film Society, the Sundance Institute, Film Independent and others, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some very smart and talented people. I’m surrounded by amazing filmmakers and artists who have given (and continue to give) generously of their time and talents to the project. The opportunity to learn from my collaborators has been one of the most rewarding parts of this process so far. Without them there wouldn’t be a film, especially our two producers, Sara and Katie.

Describe what impact San Francisco Film Society support has had on your film.
Having the support of the San Francisco Film Society gave our team a huge boost in morale at a critical point in the edit. Making a documentary feels a lot like running a marathon and there are times when you need some tangible encouragement. SFFS has a history of supporting amazing projects and it’s an honor to be included in such a strong lineup of films and filmmakers. Thanks to this grant, we are now solidly on track to finish the film by late Summer.




Independent Film Festival of Boston 2017

Review by Sarah Brinks | Post on

Street Fighting Men is a documentary that takes a close-up look at three men’s lives in modern Detroit. Detroit is a city with a troubled past and a troubled present. It is a city that is struggling with poverty, drugs, and gang crime. Street Fighting Men takes a close look at how three men in modern Detroit are making it through day to day life over about a three-year period of time.

The first subject of the film is an ex-police officer named James “Jack Rabbit” Jackson. As a civilian, Jack Rabbit works as a tow-truck operator but what we mostly see is his life as an avid member of his neighborhood watch. Jack Rabbit has all the knowledge and skills he gained as a cop and he uses them in his efforts to keep his neighborhood safe. He drives around in his big, diesel truck and video tapes suspects, writes down suspicious license plates, and patrols the streets day and night. You see how his neighbors often call him instead of the police when they see suspicious things in their neighborhoods or when they need help. He is a kind man who looks out for the little guy and goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep his neighborhood safe. Jack Rabbit is the heart of the film and a fascinating subject in the film.

The second subject is a man named Deris Solomon. He is motivated at the start of the film by the birth of his daughter to turn his life around and get educated and find a good job. He starts off well with a group called Young Detroit Builders. But he falls back into old patterns and you see how he loses momentum, returns to a life selling drugs, and ends the film in prison.

The final subject is a man Luke Williams, who has sunk all his money and time into renovating an old, dilapidated house. With his dog as a side-kick he works tirelessly to fix up the house. He is often exhausted and he is frustrated with the theft in the neighborhood as he tries to fix things up. Tragically the house goes up in flames and he loses everything except his car and his dog.  He does land on his feet working in an elder-care home but he has to hit absolute bottom first. We see him at the end of the film working on a new house that is even bigger than the one that burned down. Clearly he has a dream of owning a home in Detroit and he will not be deterred.

The timing of the film feels very pertinent after last year’s best picture winner, Moonlight, addressed very similar subject matter and as our president bemoans the problems in the inner cities without actually having a plan to help them. There are many conversations inStreet Fighting Men about the cycle that leads people to deal drugs in order to feed their families and keep their homes. The emphasis that regular employment is essential to keeping people off the streets is a repeated theme throughout the documentary, as are the many reasons that people are not able to get those jobs whether it is a family at home or an invalid ID or an inability to read an application.

Street Fighting Men embraces some heavy subject matter but it shows the natural ebb and flow that exists in people’s lives. There are some really sweet moments with Deris and his baby daughter but there are some tragic moments too like when the drugs he is selling get stolen and he gets beaten up or him watching his friends graduate from Young Detroit Builders while he sits in the audience. After Luke loses his house he gets his dog back you see him completely break down as his dog licks his face and wags his tail. Luke tells his dog that they lost everything in the world in that fire, but at least they have each other. The single shot goes from happy to sad naturally.

Street Fighting Men is the first solo directing effort by director Andrew James. James proves his ability to make a competent and compelling documentary with Street Fighting Men. There is no real narrative to the film and no one ever speaks to the camera but it tells a clear story. James’ camera captures some moments of natural levity, some deeply touching moments, and some moments of real horror and sadness. James also catches some really beautiful shots like Luke lit by the firetrucks lights as they try to put out the fire in his house or Jack Rabbit fixing a kid’s bike.

If Street Fighting Men comes to theater near you it is worth your time to check out, especially if you likedMoonlight last year.