Tuesday, 8 January 2019

FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT: Danielle Russell intrigues with This City of Mine + Joshua Paul captivates with Kinto

BOY WONDER: How did he end up there? Where are his parents? Those are just two of the puzzling questions viewers will ask upon watching Kinto, a riveting and thought-provoking 15-minute film that comes laden with scenes that are sometimes very hard to watch. It’s about a 14-year-old street kid named Kinto, who we are introduced to hustling at the traffic light, wiping motorists’ windscreens for small change. These are mean Kingston streets, and in one of the film’s most brutal scenes we witness the little boy (played with impressive conviction by Sekai Smart-McCaulay) being savagely pounced on by a bunch of thugs for his money. Battered and bruised, Kinto feels defeated. But later that evening, he witnesses an occurrence that will open his eyes and change his life. Director Joshua Paul succeeds admirably in crafting a captivating film that speaks powerfully with next to no dialogue. It’s well-paced, with ample suspense and dramatic tension and life lessons. [A-]

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO? Writer-director Danielle Russell raises several existential questions with her haunting film This City of Mine. It’s centred on Julia (Shanique ‘GiRL’ Brown, terrific), a soulful young woman who we meet at the bus stop awaiting the 7:14 to get to Half-Way-Tree. She has a new job and she doesn’t want to be late or, worse, fired. Once in Half-Way-Tree, braving the tough hustle-and-bustle crowd, she boards a bus to get to Downtown Kingston, and it’s the most uncomfortable ride of her life. It’s a jam-packed, claustrophobic space, and Julia is quick to make her discomfort known, much to the ire of one male passenger (One Patty’s Odaine Clarke). Is it just paranoia on Julia’s part? Or does she have reason to be wary of everything and everyone around her? Russell proves herself an excellent chiaroscurist behind the lens, employing an effective balance of light and dark in telling this story of a ‘stranger in a strange land.’ What’s more, the writer-director prompts us to consider our own circumstances, and whether it’s really about the destination or the journey. [B+]

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