“It’s very important to be able to move across the veil, to allow these stories to be told, these voices to be heard,” Whitaker said. “Because they aren’t heard enough, and certainly not with any depth or clarity.”

Whitaker pointed out to ITK that Booker presided over a 40 percent decrease in crime rates in Newark during the year in which the film was shot.

“What’s going on in Newark is actually a model for what can happen in cities across the country. We want to see models, and we want to see models that are working. And this is one of them.”

Levin and Benjamin told The Hill they were initially approached by Bloods gang members from Newark in 2007 who were promoting the concept of “de-ganging,” or educating local youths to dissuade them from joining gangs.