Through June 9, Ithaca’s independent movie theater Cinemapolis, in partnership with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) is hosting free virtual screenings of “America Street,” a documentary written, produced, and directed by Ithaca College assistant professor Idrissou Mora-Kpai.
The documentary was filmed in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, following the shooting of Walter Scott. In it, Mora-Kpai focuses on a neighborhood in the east side of the city, and in particular corner-store owner Joe Watson, with the goal of illuminating the depth and impact of institutional racism on a community and its residents.
“The killing of Walter Scott occurred, and journalists came to Charleston for two weeks to talk about the events, and then they left. That happens a lot,” Mora-Kpai said. “But this short-term reporting cannot provide a complete picture of how people are actually struggling on a daily level with institutional racism. The film goes beyond current events and offers this in-depth look inside a community resisting police violence, as well as all other aspects of systemic racism. I want people to understand the complexities in which these mediatized incidents unfold.”
That’s a message that’s especially pertinent right now, in the wake of nationwide protests that have sprung up following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has succeeded in putting the race question back into the public debate, films such as ‘America Street’ that investigate from the inside our urgent questions are more relevant and timely as ever.”Idrissou Mora-Kpai, assistant professor of media arts, sciences, and studies
“The current context has amplified the urgency of getting this film out to the public now to expand and deepen the conversation about race in America,” said Patricia Zimmermann, professor of screen studies and co-director of FLEFF. “We are indebted to Professor Mora-Kpai for his collaboration on this necessary initiative to contribute to the national dialogues on race.”
“As a documentary filmmaker, my role is to set the mirror in front of people, to share how I see the community,” Mora-Kpai said. “At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has succeeded in putting the race question back into the public debate, films such as ‘America Street’ that investigate from the inside our urgent questions are more relevant and timely as ever.”