I got the chance to watch Crips and Bloods: Made In America, a brilliant little known documentary chronicling the black presence in Southern California from the industrial boom at the onset of World War 2 until the present in an effort to chart the social conditions that led to the creation of the Crips and Bloods gangs whose ongoing war has lasted for decades unabated except for a brief period during and after the riots triggered by the Rodney King verdict.

Out of everything I encountered one specific line of narration has haunted me, the fact that many of the people living in the effected areas of Los Angeles have never seen the Pacific Ocean. From that basic fact arose the idea for a story that for now I'm just going to call Cees, a hip hop slang term for children that I believe I first heard in Dead Prez's Bigger Than Hip Hop. The basic plot is that two young brothers (aged somewhere between nine and twelve) living in war torn Los Angeles get it into their heads that they are going to the beach to see the ocean and nothing is going to stop them.

One thing I've noticed in practically every current narrative portrayal of abject poverty and the violence it generates in the urban US children are portrayed as not much more than victims of circumstance that more or less function as subjects of pity. I loved the fourth season of The Wire as much as anyone did, but the youth put in prominence were there to show the human cost of the breakdown of the social safety net and education system. Outside of surrealist and fantasy cinema (Pan's Labrynth, Surveillance) there hasn't been much of a report on the resilience and spirit of children in the face of adversity that crushes most adults.

What I want to create is something that is as whimsical and hopeful as it is poignant and disturbing, like the early childhood scenes of Slumdog Millionaire but with more mythic grandeur. To my protagonists in Cees, their trip to the beach- incredibly banal by the standards of most of the intended audience- carries the same mythic weight and dizzying sense of adventure as Frodo Baggins joining Gandalf or Luke Skywalker leaving Tattooine for the first time. They're crafty, canny youth who understand how to navigate the complex and dangerous jungle of their home environment albeit with the guileless naivety of youth. Stay tuned.


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