TIFF 2020 – Charles Officer’s new film AKILLA’S ESCAPE

Canadian based director Charles Officer made the film out of his passion to expose a vicious cycle of violence that has devastated and debilitated young black boys for generations. He wanted to delve deeper into this epidemic and create a character study framed within a crime noir that spans Jamaica, New York and Toronto. He wanted to connect the genesis of Jamaican gang culture at the height of political unrest during the late 1970s. And reference the historic role political factions have played in the sustainability of criminal organizations and continue that role to this day. 

In the spirit of the Iliad, the ancient Greek poem by Homer, AKILLA’S ESCAPE chronicles the politics behind violence, the humanity that is destroyed, and what is worth fighting for. Akilla is a play on Achilles, the Greek warrior central to the Iliad set during the Trojan War. His mother was Thetis, and his father, Peleus, was the king of the Myrmidons. The term “Achilles heel” has come to mean a point of weakness, especially in someone with a strong constitution. The title also plays on Jamaican slang for gang members who described themselves “A KILLA”. Beyond these aspects, AKILLA’S ESCAPE explores hallmarks of the noir genre; a robbery gone wrong, a man on a mission and a climactic standoff that ends in hopeful tragedy. Akilla’s Escape is my catharsis and the story was conceived to reflect on the question; What is the cost for Black boys to escape generational violence? 

Synopsis: In a crime-noir about the urban child-soldier, Akilla Brown captures a fifteen-year-old Jamaican boy in the aftermath of an armed robbery. Over one grueling night, Akilla confronts a cycle of generational violence he thought he escaped. 

Director: Charles Officer
Screenwriter: Charles Officer, Motion
Producer: Jake Yanowski, Charles Officer
Executive Producer: Martin F. Katz, Karen Wookey, Michael A. Levine, Reservoir
Principal Cast: Saul Williams, Thamela Mpulmwana, Donisha Prendergast, Shomari Downer, Olunike Adeliyi, Ronnie Rowe Jr., featuring Colm Feore, with Bruce Ramsay and Vic Mensa 
Year: 2020
Premiere Status: World Premiere 
Genre: Crime-Noir
Screening Section: Planet Africa 25 – Special Events
Country: Canada
Language: English
Runtime: 90 minutes

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