We have all judged people just based on the way they look. Someone like Tereek many would categorize as trouble or lazy as a young black man living on the streets. We don’t look past our biases or the situation we see them in to see the human being. A clear example of us not treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Here in this wonderful Oscar nominated short film by director Doug Roland we get a double instance of that – the viewer probably judging Tereek and he judging a man he sees at the bus stop. Hopefully by the end of the 18 minutes we have all learned the very important lesson that judging people merely by what we see is wrong in many ways.
Teenager Tereek (Steven Prescod) is wandering around the streets of New York. He meets up with a couple of friends. Courtesy of the texts he is making on his phone we see that he is scrambling for a place to stay that evening. He is homeless. Having struck out so far, his night is about to change in a profound way.
Standing on a street corner is a man (Robert Tarango). After chasing away someone who is harassing the man, Tereek realizes after trying to talk to him a couple of times that the man is not only blind but deaf. The man writes that he is looking for the way to a bus stop. He is trying to get home. Instead of just doing the minimum and abandoning him to move on to his own problems, Tereek does something which is going to change him for good. He helps someone who is in a worse situation than he is.
This is the first film in which a deaf/blind actor in a leading role has been nominated for an Academy Award. It is a film which is overtly manipulative, but there is no attempt to hide that. It knows that sometimes to get a message across you have to be heavy handed. An emotional response is sought after and obtained.
Showing care for a stranger or any other human being does not have to be a grandiose gesture. Just as writer/director Doug Roland’s story is a fairly simple one so is Tereek’s gesture. Both have effects which are larger than the effort they took. We now as humans are more isolated from each other than probably any time in history. A film like this really is needed to remind us that there is good in all of us. Plus the importance of empathy and kindness.
The film has been cleaning up on the festival circuit winning a lot of awards and it is easy to see its appeal to audiences and critics alike.