Wednesday, December 14, 2011


STL native filmmaker turns gang life into art noir

By Ma’at Atkins

Award winning STL native filmmaker Kevin Coleman had a second run screening recently of his two shorts SNAPSHOT and OSI that were shown at the Moolah Theatre in the Central West End.

Both shorts, which were about 20 minutes long, had a common theme—the circumstances from gang life. Yet they had different outcomes and elements that elevated into social and art commentary .

A scene from SNAPSOT with Eli Hernandez (with gun) and Fanny Veliz (next to Hernandez) and Sandy Sanchez.

The first short shown was SNAPSHOT(which was awarded Best Student Film at the Black Hollywood Film Festival in 2006 among other awards) that tells the story about an aspiring suburban photographer Esperanza (played by Sandy Sanchez) from Pasadena who becomes inspired by her friend, Rosa (played by Fanny Veliz) and her East L.A. gang member boyfriend, Al(played by real life gang banger Eli Hernandez).

Written by John Cruz, SNAPSHOT is set in the barrios of Boyle Heights. The use of the the landscape, landmarks and real life gang members brought a sense of grit that is needed in these type films. Yet, Coleman was able to find tranquil and passionate moments within the film during scenes where dialogue weren’t used between the characters--only thought-filled stares and nonverbal interactions emoting an intensity and realism rarely seen in film.

Director Kevin Coleman on the set of SNAPSHOT with actors and crew.

The standout was Hernandez who brought a boyish charm appeal to his badness and a seductiveness that was chilling. Although the ending of the film, was predictable of Hernandez’s character, the sense of irony in this film in relation to the shots of a picture camera top the bullets of a gun took this film to another level that was quite spellbinding.

Actor Greg Fenner plays the lead role of Osi in OSI

The second short was OSI, which tells the story about a black street youngster, Osi (played by Greg Fenner) and his drug addict white girlfriend (played by Sarah Hitzel) who gets seduced by a leader of North St Louis gang, Reggie (played by Antonio St James).

Written by Reondo Minor, OSI, although not as emotionally connecting as SNAPSHOT, does have its moments showing the street life of an interracial Romeo and Julietesque couple surviving daily on the violent streets of St Louis.

What’s interesting about this film was the standout was actually a character not associated with the plot--a homeless woman who spends her time feeding ducks in the park (played excellently by Lisa Rachel Harris) who gives Osi words of wisdom to live by and after the “luck of the draw” ending between Osi and Reggie, she becomes Osi’s muse.

Actor Antonio St. James in a scene from OSI

With more character development between the main characters, OSI could have been a brilliant film, but based on the time allotted, it was still able to send a message on the choices one makes between life and death in the streets.

These two films are definitely must sees.

For more info on these films go to

No comments:

Post a Comment