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Preview Award-Winning Found-Footage Fraternity Hazing Film 'He Ain't Heavy'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
July 6, 2012 5:21 PM
17 Comments
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A found-footage hazing film titled He Ain’t Heavywritten and directed by jeff obafemi carr (the all-lower case is his emphasis not mine), made its World Premiere at the 2012 Nashville Film Festival, where it won the Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature Film.

It's carr's feature film debut, which he says took 9 year to make.

It follows five young college students, Charles Starnes, Hannibal Barca Davis, Robert Johnson, Bodine Gabriel, and Horace Theelder, as they begin the pledge process for a prestigious African- American Fraternity. A Graduate Film Student and Fraternity member, Thomas Hayes, captures their journey on video. Weeks into the process, an early-morning 911 call leads police to a high school football field, where they discover the body of one of the pledges. Told with Pro-sumer Cameras, Cell Phone Videos, Flip Cams and Security Cameras and News Footage, He Ain’t Heavy totally restructures traditional filmmaking with its fly-on-the-wall perspective.

Director carr says that he's currently working to secure distribution for the film, with hopes of being in theaters in the fall of 2012.

I actually dig the concept of this, but the execution I'm not so sure about, if I'm to go based on the trailer below.

But watch the teaser and decide for yourselves:

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17 Comments

  • Valerie | July 11, 2012 5:59 PMReply

    I saw this movie a few months ago when my husband and I were visiting my brother-in-law in Nashville. Being Greek men, my husband and my brother-in-law were both interested in seeing this film although they were on opposite sides of the fence about how felt about a film like this coming out. I, on the other hand, was indifferent, maybe because I'm not greek. However, I did look forward to seeing it. Though I will applaud the filmmaker for tackling such a sensitive and important issue, I have to be honest and say that it was not an enjoyable movie-going experience. I am a supporter of indie films, especially black indies, but this film simply was not good. The camera work made me dizzy, the film was too long (or at least it felt like it) some of the acting was weak and the plot was thinner than dental floss. There was no story. Then we had to sit through this increasingly long Q&A, where no one spoke the truth about just how flawed the film was. I assume it was because the audience was made up of friends and family of the cast and crew. It's to be expected when screening in your hometown. The screening seemed to be sold out and I was happy to see a black independent film succeed in that way but my I did not enjoy it at all. Although my husband and brother-in-law enjoyed certain moments that they could relate to (pledging), even they had to admit that the film was poorly done overall. NOT RECOMMENDED!!!!

  • Ladybug | July 8, 2012 10:31 PMReply

    I'll pass . . .

  • maria | July 8, 2012 9:42 AMReply

    looks interesting...worth taking a look at

  • Olson | July 8, 2012 2:11 AMReply

    One of the reasons I never pledged in the first place. I am glad somebody has finally brought these horrific practices to the light so that we can re-evaluate our traditions. Carr I applaud you for making this. This is a must see film and I cannot wait until it is available in my city!

  • antonio | July 7, 2012 12:21 AMReply

    This more than just a film. This movie is thousands of black men reality whom sacrifice for something they believed in. Unfortunately some of them don't make it because, they get brutally hurt or possiblely die form the aftermath. This is a must see film. Anyone interest in joining a frat or soro need to see the conseqence of that reality.

  • James | July 6, 2012 10:48 PMReply

    Wow! I do not know whether to applaud the creator/producer or to call him a sellout for what I am seeing here. But this has been going on for too long. I thought my fraternity was the only one that did some of the things I am witnessing in this documentary. This thing is deep and brings back recollections of events during my pledging days. The secrecy is so deep that I never even hinted to brothers in other fraternities about our rituals. This guy Carr is really on to something here. I am going to tell my fraternity brothers to make plans to see it. This definitely needs to hit the big screen!

  • Ku | July 6, 2012 10:38 PMReply

    Hazing is the enslavement process our ancestors went through. Why are we still repeating it? He Ain't Heavy calls a halt to the deadly methods of keeping us in bondage. I'm so glad the director decided its time to get free.

  • Lanise | July 6, 2012 10:21 PMReply

    I like it. It's ballsy for someone to pull back the covers on the world of underground hazing. I hope the full length tours universities including ones near me.

  • Stephanie | July 6, 2012 10:19 PMReply

    Oh em gee... This film is going to be one of those classic cult films that will be around forever. Move over Skool Days and make room for He Ain't Heavy he's my brotha!!!!!!!

  • Kayla Scott | July 6, 2012 10:12 PMReply

    I'm very intrigued by the trailer and cannot wait to see the full length film. This is uncharted territory and with a country being more open to look at hazing with the death of Robert Champion at Florida A&M, I think a real dialogue can start. Hats off to the filmmaker for a daring look into the secret life of fraternities.

  • Dwayne | July 6, 2012 9:08 PMReply

    I like the trailer. I would love to see the entire movie. This movie may spark a well over due conversation about hazing. Can't wait!

  • Tara | July 6, 2012 6:36 PMReply

    i hope this comes to my city. No joke.

  • Valencia | July 6, 2012 6:34 PMReply

    This really does look like an interesting film. I'm in a sorority and I would really like to see which angle this is coming from.

  • ok | July 6, 2012 6:01 PMReply

    so this is where that footage came from that was posted on World Star Hip Hop??!?!!?

    that was very irresponsible of the director of this film to release that footage and not give any context or information about it. sh1t had people thinking that was real, people were trying to figure out what frat it was that was stupid enough to video tape their set and all types of stuff, that junk almost got people in trouble. hazing/pledging is serious/deadly and you shouldn't have trivialized it in order to get "hits"/publicity for you film by releasing that small segment of your trailer to the public like that.

    as far as this film and this trailer, i'd have to agree with adam scott thompson, the trailer was not very engaging visually. i don't know if that's the look that you were going for but it didn't make me want to see your film. i know it's an indie and you're not a professional and all that but there are decent cameras out there that aren't too expensive that can give good visuals, this just looked low rate. i think you can do better. but good luck with it!!

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 6, 2012 5:38 PMReply

    In the wake of FAMU (and a great many other incidents), it's a concept whose time has arrived -- again. We need a "School Daze" for the newer generations. I wrote a screenplay about this subject back in 2005, "The Line," which dealt less with the process itself and more with the clandestine nature of black Greek pledging and the consequences incurred when things go awry. That said, it doesn't look all that... appetizing. As a viewer I'd actually be more interested in the relationships between pledges, between them and their DOP and between them and the other brothers -- plus how those outside the situation help or hinder them. That's your story... like "School Daze" meets "Michael Clayton." I tired of the "found-footage" genre as a whole, but I'm eager to see the rest of this film -- if only to deliver a full critique. That trailer, though... I don't think indie/amateur filmmakers really pay attention to how their trailers flow vis-a-vis how a legit TV/film trailer flows. There's a reason your heart rate goes up after watching a preview at the theater -- it should be like a shot of adrenaline, not a "yawny." There, I'm finished.

  • Ya'llKnow | July 6, 2012 5:37 PMReply

    :-) Reminds me of my first short from my sophomore year in college.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y697-WXvIxI

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 6, 2012 5:53 PM

    Small world! I know Jordan K. Spradley.

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