Friday, April 17, 2015

SFIFF58: Romeo is Bleeding

This week I attended a preview screening of Romeo is Bleeding, a documentary about an East Bay youth arts program created in response to deadly gang violence in Richmond. The film centers on Donté Clark, the smart & persevering leader of a group of teenagers who are mounting a production of Romeo & Juliet. In their version, the feuding families are rival gangs of North & Central Richmond, & the cast's own urgent & angry spoken word poems replace Shakespeare's speeches. The collegial atmosphere of the preparations is apparent, though we only get small glimpses of the actual play in performance. The film has an elaborate sound design, crisp photography & a strong sense of place. A floating camera sometimes gives us views above BART trains & neighborhoods. I liked a sequence in which the camera accompanies D'Neise Robinson, the high school student playing Juliet, on her tedious nighttime commute home after a rehearsal.

Romeo is Bleeding has its official premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival this month, at a special event at El Cerrito High School, where the play documented in the film was performed. Mr. Clark will attend the premiere, as well as festival screenings at the Kabuki & the PFA. Jason Zeldes, the film's director, will attend the premiere & Kabuki screenings.

§ Romeo is Bleeding
Director: Jason Zeldes
2015, USA, 93 mins.

§ 58th San Francisco International Film Festival
April 29, 2015, 7:30 p.m.  El Cerrito High School
May 1, 2015, 6:30 p.m.  Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 3, 2015, 2:00 p.m.  Pacific Film Archive Theater

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