"Something in the way of things. Something that will quit and won't start. Something you know but can't stand... can't know... but get along with, like death riding on top of the car peering through the windshield for his cue. Something entirely fictitious and true. That creeps across your path hallowing your evil ways, like it was yourself passing yourself not smiling."
-- Amiri Baraka from the Poem "Something in the Way of Things (the town)"
Mostly when we* get together, we complain about the state of things: poverty, the shallow pockets of whomever's responsibility it is in our society to fund an artists' work, the last time we were misrepresented on celluloid, the last time we were denied an opportunity to represent ourselves on that same stock.
The disappointment is persistent. Musician to director, "I mean, I see what you're saying, but the video MUST end on a shot of my face." Development executive to director, "I feel like... if the film features an interracial couple, it won't sell. No one can relate to that story (said un-ironically under a photograph of Barack Obama)."
Sure, every once in a while we make a film...but writing / directing is a lonely process. So in the meantime - in between time - when we see each other in the streets...
But on September 7, 2012 we did not complain. We watched THIS.
We watched it again, and again.... and AGAIN. As if some spell had been cast, we were no longer complaining. Kahlil Joseph's film Until the Quiet Comes and Flying Lotus' music from the album of the same name stopped us in our tracks and required all of our engagement.
I sat down to write a review but realized that reviews always include at least a brief synopsis of what happened on screen. No one should ever write a synopsis of this work. Reducing the images and sounds to words would be a crime.
Instead, I offer some freewheeling thoughts that have not been resolved. I suspect that this is because Until the Quiet Comes opened me up. It does not resolve, it loops.
What came through the screen into my room was FREEDOM. Freedom brought on by movement, innocence, the transient power of water, the freedom that death provides, the freedom that childhood whispers in our ears and adulthood relegates to our subconscious. Another thing came through: a document of how we as a people, and especially our children, have been interacting with each other for the last few generations. How we talk with guns and enigmatic stares. How we find validation, strength, swag, and sensuality in blood letting. And, of course, how intense and embedded all of that is.
At one point, a child bleeds the blood of all our young boys. George Z. didn't shoot this one. He is the master of his world and is fighting a war within himself, within his culture. There are Bloods near where I live in Crown Heights, The Bronx, Newark. They should see this - it isn't a condemnation. It is a document that says to us, intensely but poetically, "there is something in the way of things." **
This is where we are. It is a magic place where even the pain is breathtakingly beautiful, if for no other reason than the guarantee that it will end, and another childhood awaits on the other side.
All of the above aside...
Kahlil, Flylo... you dominated THE conversation and reframed it.
None of us have complained since.
We watched this film and the only thing we could talk about after the 1000th viewing was:
WHAT are we going to MAKE NEXT?
*we = young black indy filmmakers, mainly those of us based in NYC.
**an Amiri Baraka quote from this fantastic poem.
***Pre-order Until the Quiet Comes at flying-lotus.com
Terence Nance's feature film debut, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, currently touring the film festival circuit, was an Official Selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival