Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Sundance Dispatch #3 - A Black Man's Identity Search In "North Starr"

This one hasn't been as lucky in the distribution department as the last film I mentioned (The Black List). But based on the review below from The Hollywood Reporter, it looks just as promising. The film is called North Starr. Let's hope someone picks it up and we get to see it eventually.

From The Hollywood Reporter...

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL, PARK CITY, UTAH... The story of a young black man's search for identity, it is more vibrant and affecting than many movies with 10 times the budget. What it lacks in polish, it almost makes up for in heart and soul. The film could attract a modest crossover audience before finding a home on cable.

First-time producer-director-writer-actor Matthew Stanton clearly is working more from inspiration than experience. Blending the poetic with the prosaic and originality with the formulaic, he has put together an old-fashioned, socially conscious picture with a contemporary beat. Music of all kinds -- rap, blues, country, tribal drums -- is pulsating throughout the film.

"North Starr" operates on a literal and allegorical level. It opens in the Houston hood where Demetrius (Jerome Hawkins) is reluctantly pressed into doing some nefarious job with his pal Justice (David Haley). When Justice is killed in action, Demetrius starts out on his life journey, winding up as if blown by the wind in the tiny West Texas town of Trublin.

Befriended by Darring (Stanton), Demetrius soon encounters the remnants of the old South. The sheriff and his two racist sidekicks are so venal as to be almost cartoonish. As in most places like this, they are harboring an awful secret that somehow starts to show up in Demetrius' dreams. Haunted by his past and uncertain of his future, he is nurtured by Darring, his foul-mouthed friend Wayne (Wayne Campbell) and the hospitality of an elderly white couple at the North Starr ranch.

It's the feeling and sentiment that counts here more than logic, as changes in tone between the mystical and real world are occasionally jarring. The young cast, often awkward in front of the camera, doesn't help the cause. Yet the film has a great energy and means what it says. The poetry and songs Demetrius writes in his journal are used as a voice-over and a way to show his inner self. As a city kid lost in the Texas wilderness, it's hard not to root for him...


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