11:45 | United States | 2022
April 21, 2023
Eager to celebrate the 4th of July, a group of young black and Latino friends experience a police encounter that shatters the meaning of the holiday.
Johnny Kirk is a California State University, Los Angeles graduate originally born in Chattanooga, TN. He has directed several short films. He is now the creative director and founder of Dark Blu Productions, a digital film production company that has produced several local projects. He is passionate about helping youth and his community. Kirk created a community-based group that works with local teens to help them find their voice through acting. Kirk is currently writing several scripts revolving around social issues.
Sometimes the best arguments wouldn't change a person's heart or mindset. The only thing that can do so is a good story and how you tell it.
THE FOURTH is based on the countless footage we see on the news of young men of color who experience police stops, for those who don't make it home after a police or traffic stop. I can see it even in some parts, and it's a story based on my own experiences of being a man of color. And what it can feel like when you don't feel free to express your voice. Writing it required truth and vulnerability that was, quite frankly, frightening to expose.
Though it's common to see another police shooting an armed black man, people, and when I mean people who aren't black or considered the other in the United States, don't know what's it like to experience being stopped. The anxiety of not knowing if this minor stop will escalate into something severe. We always if you only knew how it feels to be in a situation.
Here, I've imagined a situation. Wait. I didn't have to imagine. I literately read, watched, and interviewed situations they were seen and created a short film.
Here we have a young black man in an urban setting creating the United States of American most patriotic holiday that represents the start of freedom that people in America has. This story unites themes of freedom, double standards, how people are seen, and reminders of the country's hypocrisy on liberties while stimulating a visual intelligence of more prominent themes.
James Baldwin once stated, "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time." Angry because it's a country that loves your culture, influences, and even your physical features but hates you.
I've found the script to be a sort of Rorschach test, allowing people to project their beliefs and experiences onto the story in ways that open a dialogue about the black experience, policing, and the limitations of freedoms.
THE FOURTH has brought together an exceptional team of talented actors and filmmakers who believe strongly in the film's potential to touch audiences. THE FOURTH is a film meant to bring deep-seated blind spots in all of us into focus. Especially in a time when Constitutional rights are at risk of being removed. Remember, if your freedom has to be made a law, is it freedom? When will a counter law take away that freedom?
This is a movie I needed as a simple outlet for expression of what I felt as I watched the George Floyd video. It's my voice as I teared up watching the details of the Philando Castile traffic stop. My artistic outlet as I compared how this country would treat someone like Dylan roof with respect but killed Tamir Rice without warning. And now, as a filmmaker, I get to make the movies I need, so anyone else who needs them can have them, too. To have conversations about where to go from here.
In stories like this, people are tired of hearing and seeing, but as a black man, I am tired of living through it. It is not a story, it's my reality.
Jason Chau, Mario Smith
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