TerenceCrutcher, Keith L. Scott... As unarmed people of color continue to die from the gunshots of police officers and become a social media hashtag, the nation asks, "When will it end?" With the forthcoming special Happy Birthday Mario Woods, REVOLT continues its efforts to turn a critical eye to the surmounting tragedies and social justice matters of the 21st century.
Between new issues coming to the forefront and the clamor arising when prominent figures like Colin Kaepernick take a stand against them, it's easy to forget the people behind the headline; the families affected by the hashtags. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder," Kaepernick said.
Mario Woods was one of those bodies. He was just 26 when he was shot 21 times by police in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood on December 2, 2015. Ironically, the San Francisco police protesting Kaepernick’s position are responsible for Woods' unfortunate death. Happy Birthday Mario Woods, turns the lens on those left behind to tell Woods' story: his mother, Gwen Woods. "He wasn't who they said he was," a tearful Gwen says. Our new special follows Gwen as she fights through her grief and represents her son throughout their community, commemorating the first official Mario Woods Remembrance Day.
Happy Birthday Mario Woods is the third installment in "The Happy Birthday Project," following the short films on Oscar Grant and Philando Castile. It is produced by Even/Odd Films in collaboration with Ryan Coogler's Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.
This entry in the HBD series sees REVOLT team once again with the filmmaker trio of Mohammad Gorjestani, Malcolm Pullinger, and Ephraim Walker. As Gorjestani told REVOLT:
We're hoping that these films push the lens past the polarizing dialogues and the sensationalized coverage and frame these tragedies inside of empathy, the value of human life, and what it is like to experience the deep grief that loved ones will feel for the rest of time. Hopefully this project can be a catalyst in creating common ground and dialogue around the value of human life. I couldn't think of a better way to frame this goal than by creating these films on the birthdays of the individuals who have been killed. What is more universal than birth, and the birthday which is meant to be a celebration of life's continuation?
With REVOLT Specials #JUSTICEFORFLINT, Chicago Love, Baltimore Burning, Justice or Else, and more, REVOLT has from its inception documented the new civil rights movement, but through our millennial, urban point of view. REVOLT tells the side of the story that other networks do not.