After his autobiography (My Friend Dahmer) and his autofiction (Trashed), the American author Derf Backderf directed a masterful historical documentary on the 1970s and the protest against the Vietnam War. Kent State describes the events leading up to the May 4, 1970 demonstration and its violent repression on the campus of this Ohio university. Four protesters, aged 19 to 20, were killed by the National Guard on that day. The event was a major turning point and provoked huge demonstrations across the country with more than four million people in the streets, marking a turnaround in public opinion about U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Derf Backderf, was 10 years old at the time of the events. He saw troops crossing his city in 1970, and was deeply marked by the bloody repression of the May 4th demonstration. In Kent State, he portrays the students who will be killed during the demonstration as well as a member of the National Guard. His detailed description of the day on May 4, 1970, shows how the incompetence of local officials led to a veritable butchery. Derf Backderf devoted three years to the realization of Kent State, he did a real journalistic work and interviewed about ten people who participated in the demonstration. Kent State is an extremely gripping, poignant story, a history lesson and a relentless demonstration of the absurdity of using armed force to control demonstrations.