Sunday, June 13, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: All These Sons

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

All These Sons
Directed by Bing Liu and Joshua Altman
Documentary Competition – Screening Information

The number of deaths by gun violence in the United States is truly startling, and the solution to the problem isn’t as simple as some may think. Those likeliest to be either the perpetrators or the victims aren’t random, and there are many root causes that both fuel violence and increase the potential for confrontation. In many locations deemed “urban” and “unsafe,” an excessive police presence designed to keep violence in check may instead proliferate it, worsening a problem for which it is in fact not the solution, and a sincere system review is needed to bring about lasting change.

This documentary follows community programs designed to help young men escape a cycle of violence that too often engulfs the population of the South Side and West Side in Chicago. Two organizations, The Inner-City Muslim Action Network and MAAFA Redemption Project, allow Chicagoans to indulge in creative pursuits and work their way back to positively contributing to society if they have already gone down a road that has put their life on a certain path. Those whose actions during their teenage years marred the next few decades of their lives serve as role models and mentors to the next generation that hopes to avoid the same fate.

This film comes from Bing Liu and Joshua Altman, who previously collaborated on the documentary “Minding the Gap.” Like that film, the examination of a group of people succeeds tremendously due to its intimate feel and its sincere desire to get to know the individuals it is profiling. This is about Chicago and the way systemic racism leads to systemic violence in America, but it is also about Shamont, Zay, and Charles, three very real and specific people who are confronting their own struggles and issues, fully aware of what their futures could look like and the work they must do to cement the version they want to see of their lives.

This film isn’t a catch-call solution to the epidemic of gun violence in America, but it’s a striking and important first step. The investment in youth and the acknowledgment that they are just as likely to be the victims as they are the perpetrators is a resounding call to action, one that doesn’t excuse violent acts but seeks to take active measures to build communities that are not over-policed and can chart a new course for their citizens. Projects like the ones showcased are affirming and uplifting, and this film does them a strong service by amplifying their existence.


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