Brooklyn filmmaker Lawrence "Law" Watford wants to start a war between the people we are and the people we want to be with his new film Catharsis.
"In the chaos of that internal conflict is where I hope the message of this movie will have the power to at least shift the mindset, even in the slightest degree for the shortest of moments," he said.
The short film shot on location in Brooklyn follows a Black woman mourning the death of her child, who was murdered at the hands of a police officer.
As she grieves, she confronts the District Attorney who refuses to bring charges against the officer. The movie shows what a future looks like where Black and Brown Americans have grown weary of marches, rallies and protests as systemic racism and biased policing is able to endure.
"In an era where police killings of black people earn 10 million YouTube views, this film is about jolting people out of their comfort zone, out of their bubble and into unfamiliar, uneasy and perhaps frightening territory," Watford said. He added that although the plot was timely in the wake of recent events, the idea came to him five years ago.
"I have always had somewhat of an activist spirit, so when the cases of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin happened, they affected me," he said. "As a storyteller, it is only a matter of time that the things that you fear -- the hurt, the anger -- manifest into some piece of art that hopefully give you a release."
He said it was terrifying how relevant the film still was, but he wanted it to spur a conversation on what came next when people felt marches and riots weren't working. "What will they do then to actually force change?"
With a year of Black Lives Matter protests, Watford hoped people walked away with a real sense of concern for the next evolution of activism.
An avid political junkie, Law received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Hampton University and a Masters of Arts in communications as a directing student at Regent University. He credits movies like The Matrix for his fascination with art that forced people to think about the dissonance between the individuals we are and the individuals we hope to become.
Catharsis was intended to be released earlier this year, but with COVID-19 restrictions and the city's recent lockdown the film's release date was pushed back to December. It will be shown at a free, special screening in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Stuart Cinema & Café on Saturday, December 5 at 4 p.m. at the Stuart Cinema & Café. A Question & Answer session with the Law will be held at the end of the film.
Stuart Cinema & Café has been safely hosting socially distanced film festivals and private events since the city entered its phased reopening. As a part of the cafe's COVID-19 standards, masks are required and the emails and phone numbers of attendees will be collected as a precaution for contact tracing purposes.