In an environment as tumultuous as the one we find ourselves living through, we are reminded that complacency and indifference in the face of injustice are not only unacceptable but unpatriotic. And so my writer/director partner Christopher Renz and I partnered with collaborators Tidal and Sankofa.org (founded by Harry Belafonte) to create a protest short film titled Versus, starring Jesse Williams and V. Bozeman.
We should stand, kneel, scream, shout in protest to hate and intolerance; but what we should never be is silent. Especially because we live in an era that conflates facts with fake news (sometimes propagated and promoted by President Donald Trump himself), that considers the right to carry and use automatic weapons superior to the right to live without fear — and that still seeks to tell us where and how we should protest. But America isn’t a static entity, and the only hope we have of remaining a shining example of a great democracy is if we all continue to fight for what’s right and to march toward a more perfect union.
Versus is an artistic expression of the fear and anxiety that so many of us in America are feeling. As creatives, we have a responsibility to protest injustice through our work. As Americans, no matter our occupation, we have a responsibility to use our voices to be heard — in the most constructive and effective manner possible. Our film’s star Jesse Williams put it best:
“In a world consumed by organized confusion, it’s perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure. We have to press on with focused energy, creativity, respect and love, not overlooking all that we already possess. One of the ways this piece spoke to me was as a reflection of gender dynamics in society and movements work: men struggling with expectations and resources; Black women leading, nurturing and strategizing with wisdom beyond their years. These are merely moments, among many. Keep being yourself — take care of you and yours, or hate wins.”
Our ardent hope is that Versus catalyzes a dialogue and makes us stop for just 7 minutes to ask ourselves — what if love is the answer? Let’s at least give that a try.
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