After America @ Slamdance

Life is full of anxieties. Do I make enough money to pay the bills? Does the person I like like me? What is my grade going to be in this class? Am I good enough? The questions are endless and they don’t always have answers. Or at least easy to figure out ones. As this world has become more “advanced” it seems like people have had more reasons to be anxious.

In this film director Jake Yuzna films a criminal justice de-escalation worker and other non-actors in Minneapolis. Shot in 2019 together they conceived of a film which they would work on together which used radical theatre workshop techniques to examine their own real-life anxieties. The result is a film made up of different stories which questions whether Americans can ever truly be free of what it is to be Americans?

Over the past four years, which coincided with the presidency of Donal Trump, the United States’ reputation has taken quite a hit. The esteem the rest of the world has for it has fallen. As a result the power it once wielded has diminished. In After America this issue is examined in a very unique way.

All non-actors in the film – a criminal de-escalation improv worker, a Somali poet, a bullwhip expert who specializes in S&M and a queer hearing impaired male model all are leads in their parts of the story being told. All of their stories are based on real life experiences. The seven characters are based on the lives of the actors themselves.

While the stories are all different what links them together is the tension running underneath all. It is palpable. Different but always there. All expressing their different experiences of living in America.

As almost a cementing of what this film is aiming at, the week after it was finished George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.

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