Romeo Is Bleeding
directed by Jason Zeldes
starring Donte Clark
Leo Persham Pictures
Two cities, both alike in their street cred form Richmond, CA, where we lay our scene. From an ancient grudge it breaks to new mutiny, scattering black bodies everywhere. So what does an ancient British poet have to do with the gangster street scene? Plenty according to Donte Clark, local spoken word artist and poet laureate of Richmond, CA. He started out like all his fellows in this perpetually gang-ridden city until a helpful teacher (Molly Raynor) was able to point him in a positive direction. His current project: a local production of his version of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo hales from North Richmond, Juliet from Central and this is a local feud as bad as anything between the Montagues and Capulets.
While we never see more than a snippet of the well-received show this documentary explores the history and lifestyle of Richmond. This city on San Francisco Bay brought blacks up from the south to build ships and even built them their own ghetto. Richmond wasn’t as bad as the south, but still the blacks had to be kept away from the whites. Today industry revolves around the Chevron refinery; it’s work but the pollution pushed up the asthma rate and the place tends to explode every 5 or 6 years. This documentary looks at all sides of the city’s issues; they police are armed and nervous, the arrest rate hovers around 38%, and for every success story like Donte there are hundreds of failures. We meet people in this film who don’t survive to the credits, and overall, there’s not much hope. Fun as spoken words might be, it’s not a replacement for steady paying jobs and stable families. There’s sadness, there’s hope and above all this is a snapshot of the ‘hood that shows these are real people who would prefer a better life.
This film will be shown as a part of the 2016 Florida Film Festival. For tickets, show times and location please visit www.floridafilmfestival.com