Currently we’re in the middle of the We Are One Film Festival, a free ten-day online festival that’s running exclusively on YouTube. The festival is running till the 7th June (started on the 29th May) and currently has a load of features, shorts and Q&A’s for people to watch that is co-curated by over twenty film festivals (including BFI London Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival as examples) and even if you miss the premiere screenings, the films will remain on the page duration the festival’s run for free in order to raise funds that will benefit COVID-19 relief funds. So I’ve spent time watching a few of the short films that’s available at the moment and put my reviews for them below.
WHEN I WRITE IT
DIRECTED BY: Nico Opper and Shannon St. Aubin
STARRING: Leila Mottley and Ajai Kasim
Two Oakland teens explore what it means to be young, Black and committed to making art in their rapidly changing city.
When I Write It is directed by Nico Opper and Shannon St. Aubin and focuses on two Oakland teens, Leila Mottley and Ajai Kasim, during their last days of summer before college, exploring what it means to be young Black artists in their rapidly gentrifying city. With the documentary coming in at just under fifteen minutes in length, the one thing that I took from it was how authentic it felt, it immediately immerses you into the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood, feeling in the moment with Leila and Ajai as they converse with each other constantly, from their creativity to sharing ideas, as well as showcasing moments of vulnerability talking about their love and sexuality, looking forward to the future ahead. It’s clear that they are passionate about what they want to do and I found it really interesting to watch.
When I Write It is a solid short that also serves lovely time capsule moment for Leila Mottley and Ajai Kasim to look back on.
MOTORCYCLE DRIVE BY
DIRECTED BY: David Wexler
STARRING: Stephan Jenkins, Colin Creev, Alex LeCavalier, Brad Hargreaves and Kryz Reid
Third Eye Blind cannot finish their new album in time for a massive tour. Their fans still show, breaking attendance records, and highlighting the importance of the band’s deep cuts.
Directed by David Wexler, Motorcycle Drive By focuses primarily on the song by Third Eye Blind, from its inception, to it’s reception and legacy since it appeared on the bands debut album over thirteen years ago. I’m aware of the band, mainly when their debut album came out and a couple of songs got airplay (Semi-Charmed Life, Jumper and Losing A Whole Year) but since then, for me personally, I never heard much of them after that. So colour me surprised to find out during the documentary that this song came from that debut album and it was due to the fans turning it into a cult favourite, the official anthem of the band, and there’s little details of history that are interesting but they don’t really deep dive into, like having fans state why they love the song so much and also lead singer Jenkins talks about the label not wanting the song on the album but I would’ve liked that to be explored further. While the idea behind the documentary is interesting, the execution does rub you the wrong way, the choice of filming in black and white makes it pretty bland, it all feels like a self-congratulatory in its nearly twenty-two minute runtime and it spends the majority of the time interviewing Stephan Jenkins, who comes across awkwardly, whilst the rest of the band are at least given their name appearing once whenever they’re on screen.
For fans of Third Eye Blind, I’m sure twenty minutes spent discussing the significance of Motorcycle Drive By would be entertaining for them, but for me as someone not familiar with the song and the way the documentary is presented here, I just couldn’t get into it.
NO MORE WINGS
DIRECTED BY: Abraham Adeyemi
STARRING: Ivanno Jeremiah, Parys Jordan, Joshua Cameron, Tyrus McKenzie and Sashen Naicker
At a divergent point in their lives, two lifelong friends meet at their favourite South London fried chicken shop.
No More Wings is written and directed by Abraham Adeyemi, his directorial debut, that focuses on two lifelong friends, Isaac and Jude, meeting up at their favourite fried chicken shop Morley’s in South London. It’s a simple story that’s filmed in two halves, with one featuring young kids coming into Morley’s and that optimism of youth that you would have at that age, followed by Isaac and Jude now, being reflective on how their lives have shaped them to this moment and where they go from here. It’s an interesting story and harsh reality of while you grow up with a close friend for several years in an area that, no matter where you go, you identify as home, sometimes you just have to move on in order to take a different approach to what you want to do. So as Isaac tells Jude that he’s moving from South London to East London, I felt that as everyone, everyone has with one person that they grew up with move on elsewhere while you remain attached to what you know as home. The performances from Ivanno Jeremiah and Parys Jordan are really good, as are the young actors Joshua Cameron and Tyrus McKenzie, with some solid direction by Abraham Adeyemi, particularly in the last few minutes, good editing by Jim Page and some solid cinematography by Olan Collardy.
An impressive directorial debut by Abraham Adeyemi, with a ten minute short that has a lot more layers to it than I expected.