Chicken @ Tribeca Film Festival

A 13 minute short attempts to encapsulate what it is to be 16-years-old, black, in a juvenile prison, and also about to lose custody of your child. Then along comes a little chicken and it teaches you lessons about what it means to be a parent. To be responsible for another living thing. It is a short film but Josh Leong’s film does not short-change the viewer.

Leong, a graduate of Tisch School of Arts, was inspired to write and direct this film based on the lives of real residents of the Bronx Juvenile detention centre he volunteered at. Nothing is candy coated here. Even in the moments of silence it is raw. We watch as a teenager who is on the cusp of being an adult tries to navigate the situation he is in while also parenting a child…or trying to. We see that what they need in life is someone to believe in them as they have grown up in a system that is set up for them to fail. The deck is stacked against them as they are black, male and economically challenged. There is no way out, so many turn to crime. They need some hope. Hope is provided to the teenage boy in the form of a fuzzy yellow chick. That chick becomes his responsibility. And within the context of the film, a metaphor for parenthood and what it involves.

The two young male actors in the film are both first-time actors. Both Jordan C. Biggs and Biorkys Acosta bring an authenticity to everything they do here that it really allows you to submerge yourself into the story.

Unlike many short films, this one does not feel bigger than its 13 minutes. What I mean is that the story is sufficiently fleshed out here; you do not leave it feeling it could be a feature.

Another example of how important film is to giving a voice to those who we usually don’t hear from. This young, black, male population either melts into one or is ignored as they are not afforded the tools needed to be successful. They disappear from our collective consciousness as they are struggling so often turn to crime or end up incarcerated. Once in the system they often re-offend and then disappear, never to be seen again. That is a shame and we have to do better for them. Chicken can be seen as a call to action in this regard.