*A film that aired at the Tribeca Film Festival and in theaters now is the raw and riveting “Kicks.” In an exclusive interview with the man behind “Kicks,” writer/director Justin Tipping, he tells how close to home “Kicks” hits.
Inner city stories about kids being robbed and/or killed for clothes and sneakers are far too many. The latest kicks stolen from fifteen-year-old Brandon (Jahking Guillory) and his quest to get them back is behind this urban drama.
With so many urban dramas released, what inspired you to put this out?
JUSTIN TIPPING: This was inspired by my teenage years growing up in the Bay area and a time I remember getting judged initially by how I dealt with it. When you’re robbed of your Nikes you’re not only subjected to the violence and loss but the scrutiny your friends and peers. Your manhood is questioned and even my brother was like, ‘you’re a man now.’
So in retrospect I was exploring the idea of masculinity and how it’s always associated with lawlessness and violence. It’s completely backwards and wrong. Just look at the current climate and its cycle of robberies, deaths, and violence. It must stop!
Do you offer any solutions to stop it?
JT: For me it’s a tribute to how not to be preachy but reach teenagers in a bigger way. They ultimately make adult decisions. In a lot of other movies and situations you might be able to justify somebody dying at the end of the movie, but I actively tried very hard to end it in a way where hopefully all the kids will choose better paths.
The proliferation of guns is sickening and it seems everyone has one in this area. Some might even say it’s a license for police to react the way they do?
JT: I would say you gotta be crazy. Guns in the black community have nothing to do with police brutality. I think blaming the victims is disgusting and for people to be like, ‘oh well, look what they’re up against’ is insane. The police are meant to protect and serve and that has nothing to do with the violence surrounding teenagers and what they’re going through.
Gun violence ‘period’ is plaguing the country. Where I grew up, it was so easy to get a gun that it’s scary. It’s a sad truth but one that needs to be addressed and talked about. So it’s my hope to start a dialogue.
“Kicks” also stars Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer, Kofi Siriboe, and Mahershala Ali.
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]
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