Connect with us

Film

‘Two Distant Strangers’ and the Reality Black Americans Face Every Day

Written by Betti Halsell
Interview by Tiara Taylor

Creatives have been no stranger to using art as a medium for controversial context. Writer and co-director Travon Free has done just that with the creation of his short film Two Distant Strangers. When his heart was convicted by the racial uprisings that took place last summer, the cycle of grief and anger became a recognizable pattern that Free painted. He partnered with director Martin Desmond Roe to bring forth a film that is sure to leave a life-long impression amongst viewers.

Diving deeper into the intentions of the project, Free unpacked the nature of his idea and the meaning he intends for the the short film to carry. Two Distant Strangers follows a cartoonist Carter James (played by Joey Bada$$) who enters into a dimension of his day on a looped cycle, reliving his worst nightmare.

“This story came from just the raw feeling that I felt around last summer when I was internalizing all the stories you kept seeing and hearing about,” the filmmaker reflected on the inspiration behind the film’s conception. Free referred to the despair that overshadowed the country when the video of George Floyd’s murder was released.

There are so many stories similar to Floyd’s – the murder of Breonna Taylor, Ahmuad Arbery, Stephon Clark, Philando Castille, and others. For Free, it was like reliving the same horrendous day – “…You go through this cycle of emotions, processing each one. You’re angry and you’re sad. You’re hopeless and then you find a way to accept it, and get yourself back to life.”He continued, “It happened so frequently, you go through that cycle so close together that you find those cycles overlapping.”

Two Distant Strangers ingeniously projects what is happening within the Black community, as the same story of police brutality repeating itself. He describes it as “living in the worst version of groundhog’s day”. Building off that concept, the project was conceived and moved forward into production. The filmmaker depicts the feeling of no escape from the horrific account of brutality that lives within the community, by having the main character live through the same torturous hours over and over again.

The intention of the film is not only to relinquish the shared experience of anguish that comes over people of color, but to also bring attention to the conformity that works as a callous to the insensitivity towards Black people – an entire community must move forward without proper healing or corrective resolve. The community instead orbits a plaguing realm that there is no true escape from.

In regards to the power that lies behind the message of the short film, Free said, “I really wanted that to be a big part of what the film represented. For Black people, it’s not something that you don’t already know– it’s supposed to represent to the world how we feel.”

The short offers insight to the affliction that people of color feel when news of injustice revisits their doorsteps. Two Distant Strangers is not just 28 minutes of submersion into an encounter between a white cop and a Black man. It’s also 28 minutes of narrative exploration and the humanizing of lives that often aren’t seen as valuable.

Touching on the supporting role of Perri (played by Zaria), Free likened Carter to many young men in the world-exploring love interest. However, Perri doesn’t just serve as a love interest. She also emulates a model reprensentation of the type of support that someone can provide in situations as these.

Free has been a writer for late-night television for over five years. He started his career doing stand-up comedy. His experience in tackling heavy topics while keeping the audience engaged resonates throughtout the short. The film follows a tragic cycle with pockets of comic relief to ease the weight of the subject matter.

Free’s depiction of police brutality is masterfully crafted, making a solid statement of the juxtaposition between people of color and law enforcement. Two Distant Strangers will live as a film presented to bring awareness to those who seek a better understanding of the injustices against black people. Through Free’s conviction, he created a conversation piece and a time capsule that can live as a reminder to never stop fighting for the much-needed change.

The credited cast of Two Distant Strangers includes rapper Joey Bada$$, Andrew Howard, and Zaria. The film is co-directed by Martin Desmond Roe with music by James Poyser.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Film

Zendaya Talks Starring in Upcoming Blockbuster ‘Dune’

The Spiderman star is opening up about playing Chani in the upcoming feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, Dune.

The movie is taking the audience on a journey past the stars. The film explores a new frontier of fate that tethers all living creatures to one moment of existence. Those tuning in, observe Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a “gifted” young man born into a narrative of great power. Atreides prepares to take on a perilous mission and save his people. Along the way, he must face all of his greatest fears. 

Zendaya plays the voice of reason, encapsulated in the character, Chani. She is seen mostly through the consistent visions of Atreides through his expedition.

ZENDAYA as Chani and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE"
(L-r) ZENDAYA as Chani and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release.

Zendaya says there is a certain wisdom to that character, which she resonates with. She told Statenews,

“I’ve always been called an old lady since I was born,” she shared, “I’ve always been Grandma, and I think that (Chani) has that wise spirit. I think part of both of us having to grow up in a more adult space and always constantly working with people who work are so much older than us or having to be thrown into situations where you’re the youngest one in the room, I think causes you to grow up a little bit faster.”

Set in a futuristic era, the audience is free to experience a world where prophecy rules the nature of the galaxy. The only thing familiar in this narrative is the authority of human emotion. 

It took over $160 million to create this world, under a shared production of Legendary Entertainment, Villeneuve Films, and Warner Bros. Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean) scored the music for the film.

Other iconic talents sharing the screen with Zendaya are Rebecca Furgeson (Mission Impossible,) Jason Momoa (Aquaman,) and Oscar Issac (X-Men: Apocalypse.)

The previously noted source recorded Zendaya stating, “That’s what I love about this film. There is so much going on. There is so much to talk about and just to look, to hear. There are so many things, like metaphors. We’ve talked about it a million times, but something as simple as a relationship between a mother and a son.”

Watch Dune on Friday, October 22.


Betti Halsell, senior writer at HM

Continue Reading

Film

Christian J. Simon Talks ‘Under Wraps,’ Comedy and Disney Legacy

Best known for his role as Max’s best friend Leo in family comedy Sydney to the Max, Christian J. Simon is now starring in a reboot of Disney Channel’s first original movie, Under Wraps. Just in time for Halloween!

The story follows small-town teen friends Gilbert (Simon), Marshall (Malachi Barton), and Amy (Sophia Hammons), who accidentally revive and release a 4000-year old mummy in the days leading up to Halloween.

At first terrified, the friends quickly learn that the Mummy, who they affectionately name ‘Harold,’ is actually nice and in dire need of assistance. A group of criminals captures and intends to sell the mummy. To save the life of their friend, the trio has to come together, face their fears, and rush to return Harold to his sarcophagus before midnight.

Christian J. Simon, Malachi Barton, Sophia Hammons in 'Under Wraps'

We chatted with Christian, a rising comedic star, and talked about the movie, the legacy of Disney, and what it means to be a part of it.


HM: Tell us about your character, Gilbert.

CS: Gilbert loves to have a good time. He is smart, funny, gets scared very easily; he doesn’t like horror movies, which is funny because he is the total opposite of his best friend Marshall, who’s always pushing him to face his fears.

HM: What was the scene you enjoyed filming the most?

CS: Every scene was fun to shoot. There was something in every scene. But I remember how fun the car scenes were, and I say the last scene. I’m not gonna say too much cause y’all gotta tune in.

HM: How familiar were you with the original movie?

CS: No, I didn’t know what Under Wraps was when I got the audition. And I actually ended up watching it after I booked the job with my castmates in Vancouver, Canada. Which I think was great cause it was after we already put our own spin on the characters and what we thought they would be.

HM: With Disney as a brand known for creating a lot of original movies and you are a part of this legacy, which has a lot of significance to generations coming after you. How does it feel to be a part of this legacy?

CS: It feels amazing. I grew up watching Disney Channel, so to be on a network like this and [do] not just one but two things. Oh gosh, God is so good! I say to all kids out there, keep working hard and don’t give up. If you believe in something and have something that you wanna do, don’t stop. You gonna face a lot of rejection [for] whatever you choose to do. But you gotta let it be fuel for your fire and keep going and know that you can do it.

Watch our full interview above, and make sure to check out Under Wraps on Disney+ on Friday, October 8.

Continue Reading

Film

Denzel Washington Brings New Drama to Macbeth

A new level of visual art was showcased through the freshly released teaser of The Tragedy of Macbeth. Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington brings his omnipresent demeanor to the modern depiction of the play, interpreted by film producer Joel Coen (Money Talks). Oscar-winner Frances McDormand is co-starring alongside Washington Oscar and many other theatrical titans. 

The Tragedy of Macbeth is sizing up to premiere as the solo work of Coen, who worked with his brother, Ethan Coen, and produced past scenic projects together. Coen announced his redirection in focus back in August. 

Acting heavyweights in the drama genre are playing iconic roles such as Lady Macbeth, played by McDormand, and Lord Macduff, embodied by Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead). 

The melancholic footage provided to the public worked as a small savory bite before the full course of the project, arriving in theaters on December 25, before streaming on platforms like Apple+. It was heavily passed along and re-shared on Twitter this past Tuesday. 

The New York Post captured McDormand stating, “In Joel’s adaptation, we are exploring the age of the characters, and in our adaptation, the Macbeths are older. Both Denzel and I are older than what is often cast as the Macbeths. We’re postmenopausal, we’re past childbearing age. So that puts pressure on their ambition to have the crown. I think the most important distinction is that it is their last chance for glory.”

Washington is seen in the new teaser, implementing his signature smirk, leaving the audience with enough suspense to brush up on the Shakespearean knowledge of the story. The feeling of finding out more about this portrayal is at an all-time high. The film will set the tone for the New York Film Festival on September 24. 

Watch the official trailer below.


Betti Halsell, senior writer at Hollywood Melanin

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Hollywood Melanin