Dir; Shuree Rivera. Starring; City Crossroads Director Javier Reyes. Documentary. NR. Color. 9 min.
I discovered this gem under very hypocritical circumstances. A short documentary about impoverished communities stumbled into my lap through a billion dollar company you may have heard of, Facebook. A long time friend of mine and films’ cinematographer Isaac Garcia posted this random video titled “Black Boy Joy”. Needless to say, it is worth far more than the nine minutes it will take you to watch.
When it comes to poor communities it takes exceptionally kind hearted people to keep things going. Established by Larry Acosta more than 25 years ago in the Los Angeles area and currently headed by CEO Tommy Nixon, the Urban Youth Workers Institute is a non-profit that works to raise awareness of income inequality. The organizations first documentary, a short titled “Black Boy Joy,” centers around an urban community leader named Javier Reyes. A graduate of the UYWI program titled 90 Degrees, Reyes works day in and day out to help young people as the director of the City Crossroads Program in San Francisco.
In the short time allotted Reyes shows the ups and downs of what he refers to as ‘Urban Ministry’. According to the documentary, San Francisco has the fastest growing rate of income inequality of any city in the nation. I do not know that for a fact, but it would not surprise me. Silicon Valley. We meet other figures such as Pierre, an African-American gentleman who works with helping families to receive subsidized housing. Both men wish to give back to the community.
As for the film itself, “Black Boy Joy” is moving but also a bit of a tonal debacle. Rivera and Garcia are doing too much. Keep it simple. When Community Activist Jeremy goes off in a very humanistic way about Day’Von “Day Day” Hann being killed this year is real stuff. But please, stop with the theatrics. Obviously you have to do some to make things look professional, but my goodness how many times can you cut away from your main character talking in front of a blank white screen instead of just letting him talk on the streets that he is trying to help rebuild? Also, the slow motion stuff on the streets. Beautifully shot, but my goodness there is enough slow-mo to fill a full length documentary directed by Ken Burns. For the younger readers, look him up.
Ultimately what keeps this touching story from being a great film is that there is no consistent flow. Montages of walking in slow-mo combined with an ending of one second images that would give an older person seizures simply does not go together. You’ve got to choose between ‘Namaste’ and ‘Find Me in Da Club’. Both visual styles do not belong together.
Having said all of that knit-picky criticism nonsense, “Black Boy Joy” is a rewarding experience. Watching a piece that is truly interested in humanity, especially when the story is of someone you cannot help but root for, is the best thing in the world. While I am not a man of faith admittedly, I can always get behind a group that seeks to better human beings instead of trying to exploit them. As a simple fanatic of all that is cinema, I cannot wait to see the groups next video. The doc is currently available on Vimeo.
Suck Factor: 2out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!