On Wednesday 06.05.2010, Berlin Film Festivals gave out invitations for a screening of the film Bullets Over Brownsville from Openmindz Productions at Rathaus Schöneberg at the John-F.-Kennedy-Platz as part of the Black International Cinema event (04.05. – 08.05.2010).
The evening started very laid-back, as the atmosphere prior to the movie was friendly and the two producers, Damon Diddit and Natural Langdon, are very open people, both outgoing and down to earth.
When arriving, we were greeted warmly and had a great talk even before the movie started.
Then, it was time to open the doors and take our seats in the theater.
As the lights went out and the film started, we weren’t quite sure what lay ahead. Will it be a documentary style movie or fiction? What kind of storytelling should we expect, and, most importantly, will it carry the message?
The first frames of the film started with great music and a chopper flight over NYC. News shots from the American media were shown, detailing crime and violence in New York Brownsville / Brooklyn. This first impression already carried the film’s main message. Life over here is a f***ing hard knock struggle!
After the opening scene, the movie continued with an introduction of characters and the situations they live in. The story focuses on four different people, each with their own hopes and dreams. Only as the film unfolds it becomes apparent how strongly their stories are connected to each other.
This in turn makes it clear how life is in the Neighborhood. And it’s quite similar to Berliners and their relationship with the Hood. You know each other. You meet each other. You live next to each other, and when you grow up in the Hood / the Neighborhood, and stay there for (nearly) the rest of your life, you get close to your neighbors. You live in an urban microcosm.
These are the four stories told:
Dante, a young boy. He’s got his life ahead of him and has every chance of making it, if he doesn’t take the wrong path. He’s a fan of famous rapper Danger, an advocate of gun violence both on posters and in music clips.
•Eva da Diva, a girl with the same dream as so many others her age. She dreams of being famous, working in the music or film industry and living the life of a star. Firmly believing in her success, she ignores all signs of danger when it comes to the casting for a new music video of rapper Danger.
•Mark, a former dealer who made a lot of money. That is, until a crack addict sells him a video camera for a few lumpy dollars that will literally change his life. (Crack guy: “This cam will change your life!”)
•Lymiek, a gangster living the typical life of many in the ghetto. Having been nearly shot to death, he gets discharged from hospital and has a second chance to look back at his life and not repeat the mistakes he’s made.
The movie is a very accurate depiction of the life of the people in Brownsville:
a life of hope and dreams, yet also one of no hope of ever escaping the ever increasing vicious circle of violence in the ghetto. In the end, many just accept their fate. The possibility of free choice and personal development is restricted by the rigid structures und patterns of behavior in the ghetto of Brownsville.
These pave the way to a future full of violence and abuse. There are only criminals and victims, although really both are victims in the long run. There seem to be no winners in this society, and luck, if you have it, always runs out.
Most likely, if at all, you can only learn something worthwhile in jail. An athlete interviewed during the movie only got to learn base ball there, a chance and possibility of a better life he’d never have gotten in the ghetto. There, you’re way too busy just staying alive without ending up born dead.
But the ghetto doesn’t only take, it gives something back. Many there have gotten to know people who look like the toughest gangsters, yet carry a lot of love inside that they’d gladly share. Circumstances don’t permit this though. Don’t ever show fear. Never expose yourself. Eat or be eaten – that’s the law of the urban jungle.
Most impressing about the movie is the very successful connection between beginning and ending, clearly illustrating the circle of life in Brownsville.
Artistically, Bullets Over Brownsville makes an excellent impression as well, all dialogues, story, cuts, takes, casting and even the music having been produced by Natural Langdon und Damon Diddit only.
But if you think there has to be a lot of money and investors involved, you’re mistaken. The two even completely financed the film. This much passion for their work and Brownsville should be respected and honored.
The movie is a graphic capture of a small microcosm – Brownsville in Brooklyn/NYC. This microcosm and the associated repression and restriction are present worldwide. Close to everyone has already experienced what it means having to submit.
No matter if school, job, family, neighborhood or society in general, there’s a little Brownsville in every one of us, in some more, in some less.
After the movie, a discussion of the movie was held in the library of Rathaus Schöneberg. It was a good choice as a background, providing a friendly and productive atmosphere in which not only the film was talked about.
Blackoutz can only recommend this film to all of you!!!
And if you’ve missed the screening, don’t worry. The guys are busy pressing some DVDs for posterity’s sake.
We’ll keep you up to date.