Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 107 July 2020 - Page 157

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Flashmag July 2020 www.flashmag.net

After her speech on the lack of diversity in French cinema, Aïssa Maïga presents the prize for the best newcomer to Algerian actress Lyna Khoudri, during the Césars 2020.

In “17 Blocks,” Cheryl Sanford, matriarch of a low-income African American household in southeast Washington, D.C., talks wistfully of a “parallel universe” where she and her family enjoy cookouts, vacations and gift-filled Christmas mornings. This melancholy confession comes moments after a closeup of her casually snorting cocaine. It’s a heartbreaking scene in a devastating film that stays entirely focused on a single family’s struggle to overcome the intractable problems of drug addiction and gun violence that have destroyed the future, and often claimed the lives, of too many African Americans in poor communities.

Though it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019 and was subsequently slated for distribution by MTV Documentary Films last fall, Davy Rothbart’s intimate and uncompromising documentary was then held back for 2020. The subsequent coronavirus outbreak put those plans in limbo once again, with theatrical and broadcast release still in flux. In the interim, “17 Blocks” has taken on fresh relevance amid the #BlackLivesMatter protests, speaking even more directly to this moment and an America convulsing in protest over racial inequality.

’17 Blocks’: Film Review

Reviewed online, Los Angeles, June 12, 2020. (In Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 96 MIN.

Production: (Documentary) An MTV Documentary Films release of a Beachside Films production. Producers: Michael B. Clark, Rachel Dengiz, Davy Rothbart, Alex Turtletaub, Marc Turtletaub. Executive producers: Cheryl Sanford, Jennifer Tiexiera.

Crew: Director: Davy Rothbart. Writers: Davy Rothbart, Jennifer Tiexiera. Camera: Zachary Shields. Editor: Jennifer Tiexiera. Music: Nick Urata.

With: Cheryl Sanford, Emmanuel Durant, Jr., Akil "Smurf" Sanford, Denice Sanford-Durant, Justin Sanford, Carmen Payne.

Sources Variety

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CINEMAG

17 Blocks Davy Rothbart