Adam Margolis, Jim St. Germain
Jim St. Germain, James Kicklighter, Adam Margolis, Ari Rutenberg
So many of us have been there before. Getting on with your day, driving along the road and suddenly... you've been pulled over by a cop. Maybe because you did something, maybe because the cop thought you did something - or maybe for no real reason at all. No matter how you slice it, it's an uncomfortable situation. Nerve racking and sometimes even scary. Happens to the best of us - but for some, it happens more often than I should.
I'm just going to say it. I'm a white, middle aged dude. My vision can at times, be very narrow. "Every Nine Hours" is a racially driven short film, and I'm trying my hardest, to keep my eyes and mind wide open. It's tough. I see initiatives such as the Black Lives Matter movement and think to myself - all lives matter. Color doesn't/shouldn't even factor in. I also realize writing that is probably the worst thing I can do, as saying things like that is considered a huge no-no. Yet I'm being honest - as well as writing as someone with tunnel vision - as I wrote above.
And yet... I do get it. Somewhere within me. I could never mentally understand the hardships a black man or woman faces daily - but I do see it. Some of it. I seen it a few days ago in a variety store, as I stopped for gas and a coffeee before work - around 4:00am. I pumped my gas, went into the store, walked to the coffee station at the back, and poured myself a cup of joe. As I was paying, another man entered the store and proceeded to the coffee station - much the same as I did. The clerk however, made it a point to yell hello to this new customer. Twice - as a matter of fact. As if the first shout weren't quite enough. I didn't get a hello? I didn't get a second glance. I occurs to me now, that the clerk probably wanted to make sure this other man knew he was noticed. That he knew he was being watched. Did I mention the other customer was a black man? Unconscious or not... this is what life is like if you're a black person. Always watched. Always questioned and sometimes - that racism transcends a simple hello.
"Every Nine Hours" goes into all this - as our lead explains the fear and shame he deals with every day. The fear and shame simply because he's black. It's pretty powerful when spelled out quite this way. Our hero in the film Justin, on the hood of a police car, is really just the start of this story - and although just the catalyst, it beautifully opens the door for the rest of the film. The problem with humans, as this film demonstrates, is not always outright fear and racism. It's our ignorance.
"Every Nine Hours" is a beautifully acted and produced film. There's experience here, no question about that. So instead of blabbing on about cameras and acting, let me go a little deeper into the heart of this movie. By now I'm sure you're thinking it's another drama about racism. Keeping with my theme of honesty, there's nothing new about that. No major story that's going to surprise anyone really. Film should focus on real life problems from time to time. Keep things fresh in peoples mind and perhaps open a few eyes. Groundbreaking? Not really - you've seen this story done before.
However, this film manages to go a step further. Remember above I was writing about my own personal ignorance - and the ignorance of so many others? That's touched up on here, by Justin's girlfriend Christina no less. But even more interesting is that "Every Nine Hours" take yet another step, suggesting that racism isn't the only issue. It's people in general. During the excellent final scene, Christina talks about how even she, a white woman, walks through situation after situation - that a black man never would. She tells Justin that he would never second guess what he would wear - thinking one wrong color could lead to rape. It's a moving discussion that is a lot longer than my quick blurb here. But, I'd like to keep this relatively spoiler free. I could also add in the friendly lecture from the driver picking up Justin - again, it basically spells out one thing. Black people have their struggles. No question about that. But so does everyone else. Everyone struggles and deals with different problems, stereotypes and racism. This is where this film differs from so many others, and branches off from the standard racism flick.
We're all human. We all have ordeals. We all deal with some form of racism or stereotypical assumptions. Does this mean there isn't a problem right now - and that being black doesn't put a target on your back? Hell no. Anyone with half a brain can see what's happening in the world. Those that don't? They're part of the problem. Could I personally ever understand what being black really means? No. I'm white. I can see what the news reports, and know what racism and hate is... but I've never had to experience something like that man in the variety store. What I can say is that I liked the slight spin on the horrendous story presented here. It also didn't hurt that it looked great. "Every Nine Hours" offers up some real food for thought. Period.